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.
Biopic1980124 minsDirector: David Lynch
David Lynch's moving true-life tale of the severely deformed Joseph Merrick and his rescue from the hell of a Victorian circus sideshow.
Thriller2017109 minsDirector: Juan Carlos Medina
Bill Nighy plays the arch detective investigating a series of grisly murders around the music halls of Victorian London, in this pungent Gothic mystery.
Horror201885 minsDirector: Matthew Holness
"Can you spy him deep within? Little Possum. Black as sin." The reliably deranged Sean Harris is plagued by an evil puppet in this dark, brooding fable from Matthew Holness.
Horror195882 minsDirector: Terence Fisher
Hammer's 1958 version of Stoker's Gothic novel was the most exciting to date, boasting lavish costumes and sets, a vibrant score and red, red blood.
Horror195988 minsDirector: Terence Fisher
Classic Hammer horror of a reanimated ancient Egyptian mummy, who returns from his tomb to seek vengeance on its desecrators.
Horror195783 minsDirector: Terence Fisher
Meddling with nature has devastating consequences in Hammer's first Gothic horror, a visceral take on Mary Shelley's novel.
Drama201792 minsDirector: David Lowery
David Lowery's haunting exploration of love and loss, with Rooney Mara and Casey Affleck is a high-point of recent independent American cinema.
Thriller2018111 minsDirector: Lenny Abrahamson
Lenny Abrahamson (Room, Frank) directs this Gothic mystery, with Domhnall Gleeson as a doctor helping the heir of a haunted stately home (Ruth Wilson).
Horror201898 minsDirector: Jeremy Dyson and Andy Nyman
Being scared has never been this much fun, as Martin Freeman, Andy Nyman and Paul Whitehouse bring the chilling London stage play to the screen.
Anthology194599 minsDirector: Alberto Cavalcanti, Charles Crichton, Basil Dearden and Robert Hamer
A group of guests assembled at a country house swap uncanny and supernatural stories in this classic Ealing chiller from 1945.
Animation & Artists Moving Image198315 minsDirector: Jan Svankmajer
Švankmajer's second adaptation of the work of Edgar Allan Poe, in which a prisoner is forced to undergo trials of torture.
Horror196896 minsDirector: George A. Romero
Landmark film from 'zombie godfather' Romero, whose makeshift heroes fight for their lives against a new and terrifying enemy.
Horror197391 minsDirector: Don Sharp
The greatest zombie-biker, toad-worshipping-Satanists horror in British cinema is an undisputed cult classic brimming with exciting action and fantastical mayhem.
Horror197185 minsDirector: Peter Sasdy
In Edwardian London, a series of gruesome murders match those of the Whitechapel Ripper, revealing an unlikely suspect.
Crime1964111 minsDirector: Bryan Forbes
Bryan Forbes’ stylish psychological thriller about a medium who plans to kidnap a child and help the police solve the crime to bolster her reputation as a clairvoyant.
Children's198568 minsDirector: John Krish
A ghostly drama of the Derbyshire plague village of Eyam, as unquiet spirits of the long dead make contact with the living.
Period drama194894 minsDirector: Marc Allégret
Valerie Hobson stars as the scheming governess with designs on taking over the Fury estate, in this atmospheric Gothic melodrama
Drama194798 minsDirector: Charles Frank
Gothic chiller based on the novel by J. Sheridan Le Fanu. Jean Simmons stars as an heiress pursued by her unbalanced uncle and his perverted son.
Melodrama1943116 minsDirector: Leslie Arliss
James Mason, Margaret Lockwood and Stewart Granger star in the first of the fantastically successful Gainsborough melodramas.
Horror195071 minsDirector: Ivan Barnett
An eerie British version of the classic Poe chiller, strong enough for a rare 'H' (for Horrific) certificate.
Animation & Artists Moving Image198216 minsDirector: Jan Svankmajer
The first of Švankmajer's 'tactile experiments', chosen partly because the title was on an official list of 'approved' texts. In this version there are no humans, just a glimpse of a live raven as the camera roams around an eerie derelict house.
Drama195321 minsDirector: J.B. Williams
Stanley Baker enacts the classic Edgar Allan Poe story in this chilling short film, only recently rediscovered after being lost for 50 years.
Horror200411 minsDirector: Stephanie Sinclaire
What's under those floorboards? A man is driven to murder in a modern retelling of Edgar Allan Poe's ghoulish story shot by the legendary cinematographer Jack Cardiff.
Horror193450 minsDirector: Brian Desmond Hurst
A madman harbours murderous thoughts about an old relative with an evil eye in this chilling Edgar Allan Poe adaptation
Children's197659 minsDirector: James Hill
Victorian orphan Alice Harvey - arriving to live at her great uncle's spooky house - is frightened by a mysterious, dark-clad intruder.
56 minsDirector: Gerry Levy
A fairground showman (Warren Mitchell) exacts a terrible revenge upon the hooligans who terrorise him in this haunting tale of mystery and magic