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.
The Little Stranger
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).
The Limehouse Golem
Thriller2016109 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.
Dead of Night
Horror194599 minsDirector: Alberto Cavalcanti
A group of guests assembled at a country house swap uncanny and supernatural stories in this classic Ealing chiller from 1945.
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.
Horror193170 minsDirector: James Whale
The gothic horror that ushered in a wave of cinematic terror, starring Boris Karloff as the reconstructed monster with a human soul.
Horror201798 minsDirector: Jeremy Dyson
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.
The Curse of Frankenstein
Horror195783 minsDirector: Terence Fisher
Meddling with nature has devastating consequences in Hammer's first Gothic horror, a visceral take on Mary Shelley's novel.
Horror201785 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.
Blood on Satan's Claw
Horror197096 minsDirector: Piers Haggard
Depraved sexual practices and satanic violence envelop a remote country village in this exciting period horror.
98 minsDirector: Cyril Frankel
Joan Fontaine stars as an ex-missionary drawn to investigate the sinister undercurrents beneath the surface of English village life.
A Ghost Story
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.
Period drama194794 minsDirector: Marc Allégret
Valerie Hobson stars as the scheming governess with designs on taking over the Fury estate, in this atmospheric Gothic melodrama
The Man in Grey
Melodrama1943116 minsDirector: Leslie Arliss
James Mason, Margaret Lockwood and Stewart Granger star in the first of the fantastically successful Gainsborough melodramas.
Night of the Living Dead
Horror196896 minsDirector: George A. Romero
Landmark film from 'zombie godfather' Romero, whose makeshift heroes fight for their lives against a new and terrifying enemy.
Horror197291 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.
Where Has Poor Mickey Gone
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
The Fall of the House of Usher
Horror195071 minsDirector: Ivan Barnett
An eerie British version of the classic Poe chiller, strong enough for a rare 'H' (for Horrific) certificate.
The Tell-Tale Heart
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.
The Tell-Tale Heart
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
The Pendulum, The Pit and Hope
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.
The Castle of Otranto
Animation & Artists Moving Image197718 minsDirector: Jan Svankmajer
Czech animator Jan Švankmajer's adaptation of Horace Walpole's Gothic novel.
Haunters of the Deep
Children's198461 minsDirector: Andrew Bogle
A ghostly boy returns from the grave to warn against reopening 'The Devil's Mine' in this spooky drama.
Out of the Darkness
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.
The Man from Nowhere
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.