Gothic movie fans have a broad choice of true classics to chose from, starting with the legendary Hammer films, the vampire flicks featuring the late Christopher Lee, Boris Karlow and of course the unforgettable Max Schreck. But we are not only blessed with older (but timeless) masterpieces, the 80's, 90's and new millennium also brought us some modern movies with the right amount of dark mood, eerie atmosphere and great entertainment value. Here - and in no particular order - some of our personal favorites that you should watch, or more likely re-watch.
The Addams Family
The 1991 big-screen adaptation of the beloved TV-series might not entirely live up to the quality of the original show, but it still features memorable moments and whole cast of brilliant actors: Anjelica Houston, Christopher Lloyd and Christina Ricci as everyone's favorite scary little girl, Wednesday Addams. Set up as a dark comedy, the movie is peppered with one liners and funny quips, but suffers from a weak script and a serious lack of cohesion. Still, wether you are a fan of the original TV-series or not, this movie is still very enjoyable and offers many fun moments as we follow the Addams and their ghoulish antics, and the uniquely demented chemistry between Gomez and Morticia is spot on. Christina Ricci also owns the role of Wednesday, cold, scary yet fascinating and intriguing. Always worth re-watching, especially on a nice Halloween weekend-afternoon, to get in the mood. And just try getting the theme song out of your head!
This 1988 movie features the brilliant and bizarre signature style of Tim Burton, and one of the greatest performances of Michael Keaton as Beetlejuice, the scruffy and rabble-rousing revenant spirit at the center of the story. When Geena Davis and Alec Baldwin's newlywed characters Barbara and Adam are killed in a freak car accident, they are tasked with haunting their former home until the celestial bureaucratic paperwork clears them for heavenly ascension. Unfortunately the lack-luster haunting skills of the newly deceased fails to scare the new owners of their former home away: the Deetzes, a pair of obnoxious yuppies and their black-clad gloomy daughter, played by a fantastic Winona Ryder. If you were a young goth at the time the movie came out, chances are big that Lydia Deetz was your first fantasy crush. We know we fell for her charming darkness, and so did Beetlejuice, the veteran-scaremeister hired by the Adam and Barbara to help them with the house hunting and get rid of the undesirables. The ensuing chaos brilliantly mixes wit with creepy fun, making this a very entertaining movie for both adults and little darklings. As usual with Tim Burton, the soundtrack is signed by Danny Elfman.
There have been countless movies about everyone's favorite fanger, and not always of best quality. With the 1992 release of Bram Stoker's Dracula, the godfather of vampires finally got the high-quality treatment he deserved. A visually opulent masterpiece directed by none other the Francis Ford Coppola, this movie features a top-class cast including Anthony Hopkins, Keanu Reeves, Winona Ryder (again) and an iconic performance by Gary Oldman as Vlad Teppes himself. Winner of three academy awards, the movie offers a brilliant mix of horror and romance, focusing not only on the blood-thirsty aspect of the vampire legend, but also offers emotional depth ranging from eternal love to death and redemption. The soundtrack is bombastic and beautifully enhances the strong images to create atmospheric layers that suck your mind right into the story. Despite both main actors (Oldmand and Ryder) not getting along on set, their on-screen chemistry is solid. From the subtle horror of independently moving shadows, the pure madness of Rennfield at the mental asylum to the irresistible temptation of Dracula's daughters (Monica Belluci is pure eroticism) seducing poor Jonathan Harker, the movie is an emotional roller coaster that perfectly captures the mood of Stoker's novel.
Before Johnny Depp became a parody of himself, he seduced movie viewers with uniquely quirky portrayals of flawed but lovable characters. And boy, his rendition of constable Ichabod Crane IS quirky, lovable and funny, on par with his most iconic character, Jack Sparrow. Sorry, Captain Jack Sparrow. Based on the tale "the legend of Sleepy Hollow" by Washington Irving, the film brilliantly mixes horror and fantasy with a lighthearted comedy tone. Set in 1799, young constable Crane is confronted with the supernatural when he is sent to the tiny rural village of Sleepy Hollow to inspect a series of grizzly killings, and the murderer seems to be none other than the headless horseman. Directed by Tim Burton, the movie features his trademark visual style, the images are opulent, and beautifully enhanced by Danny Elfman's musical score. An entraining and atmospheric film that we love to watch over and over again. Some of Depp's best work. And it also features our favorite goth vixen since Elvira, Christina Ricci in the role of Katrina van Tassel, the ambiguous love interest of Ichabod. The TV show is good, the movie is much better.
The Crow is a true classic that combines a dark anti-hero as main protagonist, gritty visuals, a beautiful soundtrack that features The Cure, NIN and My Life with the Thrill Kill Cult and a horrendous real-life tragedy: actor Brandon Lee was killed on set, and rumor has it that the movie does feature the scene where he got shot (a prop gun was loaded with real bullets instead of blanks). This is eerily similar to what happened to Bruce Lee, Brandon's father, in one of his movies. As you can imagine, the conspiracy theories surrounding the movie are thus abundant. Conspiracy or not, this 1994 movie features a sweet story of death and revenge when rock musician Eric Draven and his fiancée are murdered on their wedding night, and Draven returns from the dead one year later, on the anniversary of their death. Pale faced and dressed all in black, the Crow exacts bloody vengeance on the thugs that killed him, making him sort of the first gothic vigilante. The movie is not quite as radical and violent as the graphic novel by James O'Barr, on which the film is based, but it is a good vengeance movie that led to a bunch of terrible sequels.
Interview with the Vampire
Legions of goths avidly devoured the books, the on-screen adaptation of Anne Rice's novel about the vampires Louis and Lestat and the struggle with eternal life, the conflict of conscience feeding of humans, the ennui de vivre and the old world versus the new. Played by Brad Pitt and Tom Cruise respectively, Interview with a Vampire does not indulge in the lighthearted tone of sparkly teenage-vampire tropes, rather it focuses on a much grimmer and realistic vision of what it must be like to be a vampire. Which is, never ending sadness. This approach makes this movie the worthy heir of the original Nosferatu, which also emphasized the suffering instead of glorifying undead eternity. The movie follows Louis and Lestat in their effort to regain a resemblance of life, only to see it corrupted and eluding them. There is no happiness for the characters, not in San Francisco, not in Paris in the company of Armand (Antonio Banderas), and not when they turn a young Kirsten Dunst into their vampire progeny. There is no happiness, and therein lies the strength and beauty of this movie.
But of course the opposite can be fun too, as proven by our last entry.
The Lost Boys
"Sleep all day. Party all night. Never grow old. Never die. It's fun to be a vampire." The tagline sets the tone for this iconic 80's movie featuring Corey Haim and Corey Feldman, as well as Kiefer Sutherland in his most memorable pre-Jack Bauer role. To be frank, we loved this movie when it came out, and we still love it today. The soundtrack and the carefree innocence that only 80's kids can understand set the tone for this horror-comedy. Set in Santa Carla, a small coastal town plagues by unexplained disappearances and rivaling biker gangs, the movie follows brothers Michael (Jason Patric) and Sam who are forced to relocate there with their mother. While younger sibling Sam makes the acquaintance with the Frog brothers, self proclaimed vampire hunters, his older brother Michael tries to impress the mysterious Star (Jami Gertz) by joining David and his rowdy biker gang. All things are not as they seem in Santa Carla, and it is great fun to watch the story unfold in a mix of 80's pop culture, outrageous clothing and memorable one-liners. Death by stereo, that's all we say!
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