Gothic: The Dark Heart of Film

Gothic horror and romance tales feed on our darkest fears and desires, and conjure the creatures of the night into being.

The sensational tales of 18th and 19th century writers like Horace Walpole, Mary Shelley, Bram Stoker and the Brontës, have defined popular culture, inspiring some of film and television’s most memorable characters, from Dracula and Frankenstein to Cathy and Heathcliff. The technology of film always did fulfil a deep-rooted Gothic fantasy, by capturing the spirits of the living, conjuring ghostly and disembodied forms, and re-animating the dead. Now the undead creatures of the Gothic imagination return to our screens again and again, shape-shifting and breeding new genres. In 2013 the BFI’s spellbinding season lifted the lid on this dark storehouse of the imagination, which found its heart in Britain, and came to life on film. Delve into a dark heart of film here.

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The Mistletoe BoughThe Mistletoe Bough

Fantasy19049 minsSilent

Discover a haunted gem, the earliest film of the Christmas ghost story The Mistletoe Bough. Guaranteed to spook a whole new generation over a hundred years after its creation. With new music by Pete Wiggs of Saint Etienne, commissioned by the BFI.

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Horror195519 mins

Christopher Lee in perhaps his earliest supernatural screen role, as a ghost who returns from the grave to seek revenge.

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Horror19277 mins

A man hallucinates being buried alive after reading an Edgar Alan Poe story.

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The Testament of Caleb MekeThe Testament of Caleb Meke

Amateur film196925 mins Location: Bangor

A young man is left an old mansion in his uncle’s will. Too late he discovers that he's also inherited a legacy of witchcraft and demonology!

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A Visit to Whitby (1913)A Visit to Whitby (1913)

Documentary19133 mins Location: Whitby

Early film footage of the place where Bram Stoker's Count Dracula legendarily arrived in the UK.

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The Tomb of FrankensteinThe Tomb of Frankenstein

Amateur film196426 mins Location: Comber

A strange old hermit uses witchcraft to give life to the Frankenstein monster. Will the creature be his instrument of revenge, or will it turn on its creator?

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Tut-ankh Amen's TombTut-ankh Amen's Tomb

Non-Fiction19233 minsSilent

Rare, shaky but priceless images of one of the great excavations of the early 20th Century - and its legendary leader, Howard Carter

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Whistle and I’ll Come to YouWhistle and I’ll Come to You

Amateur film195610 mins

A decade before the BBC's version of M R James supernatural classic came this chilling version from the North Downs Cinematograph Society

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The Coming of the Black DawnThe Coming of the Black Dawn

Amateur film196525 mins Location: Newtownards

Something sinister this way comes in one of The Spence Brothers earliest films.

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Haunted HotelHaunted Hotel

Fantasy191817 minsSilent

Guests find things that go bump in the night.

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Two-faced Killer: A Modern ThrillerTwo-faced Killer: A Modern Thriller

Amateur film19515 minsSilent

Amateur award-winning dramatic thriller influenced by 1940s Universal Horror movies and made by husband and wife team John and Dede Wright.

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Dracula and the Turn of the TideDracula and the Turn of the Tide

Documentary198126 mins Location: Whitby

What connects a vampire count and feuding fishing families? Five miles of coastline, storms at sea, and two contrasting imaginations.

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Amateur film19948 mins Location: Harlesden

A female protagonist falls prey to the ‘Shadowman’, who stalks his victim before attack. Uses stop-motion animation as well as live action.

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Fangs for the MemoryFangs for the Memory

Student film19708 mins Location: Durham

A vampire with a taste for the demon drink prowls the dark alleys and subterranean cellars of Durham in the 1970s.

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Dead HungryDead Hungry

Comedy200910 mins

A hungry zombie finds love while terrorising teenage campers in this gruesome but fun twist on the zombie movie.

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Hand in GloveHand in Glove

Amateur film197612 mins

To carry on his important work the ego-maniacal scientist Dr Kelly must obtain another hand … a hand which begins to take on a life of its own.

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