The Best Gothic Horror Movies
The haunting (1963)
At the heart of nearly every gothic horror film is a towering and sinister edifice, dating all the way back to Georges Méliès’ silent short of 1896, The devil’s mansionknown in English as The haunted castle and widely considered the first horror film. Of course, stories set in evil or corrupt houses date back centuries, so it’s no shock that such settings have also played a major role in horror cinema since the beginning. Still, 1963 The hauntingdirected by Robert Wise (West Side Story) and the famous novel by Shirley Jackson The Haunting of Hill Housemarked a major change.
This is because, unlike previous haunted house images which were often placed in period settings, The haunting takes place in the present (or at least as it was in 1963). Its four main characters – a paranormal investigator, a troubled young woman seeking to escape her dreary life, a chic and sexually free lesbian clairvoyant, and the empowered young man who has become a great wealth – are all modern. And the abode itself, Hill House, though dark and ominous on the outside, is brilliantly lit on the inside. Nevertheless, it has its share of secret corners and forbidden places.
The tormented woman at the center of the story, Eleanor (Julie Harris), is manipulated by the house almost as soon as she enters, and Wise does a brilliant job of not only throwing the audience off balance, but never letting us see what’s going on. exactly haunts Hill House. Darkness eventually encroaches on its inhabitants, and the house looms over the film’s finale like something out of a nightmare, making it the gold standard of haunted house films to this day. – DK
Usher House (1960)
It was only a matter of time before one of the masters of gothic literature, legendary American writer Edgar Allan Poe, found his way to the big screen. And that’s thanks to an unlikely source: Roger Corman, a B-movie producer and director known for churning out cheap black-and-white fare for drive-ins. Corman did much of his early work for American International Pictures (AIP), which decided to take a risk on a (relatively) larger, full-color film based on one of Poe’s best-known short stories.
The result was so successful that Corman made seven more films in what became known as the “Poe Cycle”, but Usher House define the model. Drenched in glorious color and a morbid atmosphere, the film was a cut above Corman and AIP’s previous efforts and a turning point for gothic horror films as well. The film follows Philip Winthrop (Mark Damon) to the main building, where his fiancée Madeline Usher (Myrna Fahey) lives with her brother Roderick (Vincent Price). No sooner does Winthrop arrive than the spectral Roderick informs him of his disapproval of the couple’s wedding plans: all members of the Usher family, Roderick claims, are ultimately afflicted with madness, and he wants the curse to end. with him and Madeline.
A ruined, ghostly and isolated mansion, mysterious illnesses, obsessive and unhealthy family dynamics, a horribly premature burial, madness and murder – these are all elements of Poe’s fiction that have become standard movie trappings. gothic horror, but Usher House and Corman’s subsequent Poe adaptations infused them with a new level of psychosexual dread and fatalism. Vincent Price’s Doomed Roderick was one of his greatest performances, and Richard Matheson’s screenplay and Floyd Crosby’s cinematography solidified the mood Corman was trying to evoke – a mood that would linger through subsequent films. and beyond. – DK