Contemporary Gothic and Horror Film

Contemporary Gothic and Horror Film

Transnational Perspectives

By Keith McDonald & Wayne Johnson

This book examines contemporary Gothic cinema within a transnational approach by focusing on the aesthetic and philosophical roots which lie at the heart of the Gothic. The study will invoke its literary and filmic forebears by exploring how these styles informed the modern filmic Gothic.

Hardback, 178 Pages


June 2021

£80.00, $125.00

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About This Book

This book looks at contemporary Gothic cinema within a transnational approach. With a focus on the aesthetic and philosophical roots which lie at the heart of the Gothic, the study invokes its literary as well as filmic forebears, by exploring how these styles informed strands of the modern filmic Gothic: the ghost narrative, folk horror, the vampire movie, cosmic horror and finally, the zombie film. In recent years, the concept of transnationalism has ‘trans’-cended its original boundaries, perhaps excessively in the minds of some. Originally defined in the wake of the rise of globalisation in the 1990s, as a way to study cinema beyond national boundaries, where the look and the story of a film reflected the input of more than one nation, or region, or culture. It was considered too confining to study national cinemas in an age of internationalization, witnessing the fusions of cultures, and post-colonialism, exile and diasporas. The concept allows us to appreciate the broader range of forces from a wider international perspective while at the same time also engaging with concepts of nationalism, identity and an acknowledgement of cinema itself. It also facilitated studies to focus on notions of hybridity where terms were not fixed but were constantly shifting and mobile.

The central idea of the book is that after horror/Gothic film was dragged into disrepute by the rise of torture porn and endless North American remakes, a set of international filmmakers are seeking to emphasize the aesthetic, artistic and philosophical potential of the Gothic. Such filmmakers include Guillermo del Toro (Crimson Peak), Ana Lily Amirpour (A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night), Park Chan-wook (The Handmaiden, Stoker), Tomas Alfredson (Let the Right One In), Wim Wenders (Only Lovers Left Alive), Ben Wheatley (A Field in England), Jane Campion (Top of the Lake), and Carol Morley (The Falling).

Although written in an accessible manner, the book incorporates theory and engages extensively into research to tap into key developments in Gothic studies – transnationalism, fandom and genre fiction, and transmedia exchanges – bringing these together along with popular culture and associated phenomena.


“This is a stimulating exploration of the ways in which Gothic conventions and tropes are not simply features of classical horror, but are to be found in so many corners of the modern horror film. Nor do they just belong in the familiar narratives of ghosts and vampires, but also in the less obviously Gothic movie worlds of folk horror, ‘cosmic horror, and zombie horror. A worthy addition to the horror movie literature.” —Andrew Tudor, Professor Emeritus, University of York, UK.

Contemporary Gothic and Horror Film: Transnational Perspectives presents a truly transnational vision. Its scope is broad and its reach global. The book presents an expert introduction to the subgenres of Gothic and horror film including ghost stories, folk horror, vampire and zombie movies, while drawing from examples across the world. An essential book for lovers of horror looking for something new.” —Deborah Shaw, University of Portsmouth, UK

 “Cultures from around the world not only have their own traditions of horrific storytelling but contemporary cinema has witnessed the emergence of a huge international trade in such stories. Contemporary Gothic and Horror Film: Transnational Perspectives explores the films and the filmmakers that have benefited from this trade. As such it is a crucial contribution to our understanding of both the horror genre and international film culture more broadly.” —Prof. Mark Jancovich, University of East Anglia, UK

Contemporary Gothic and Horror Film: Transnational Perspectives's most surprising and astute contribution is its painstakingly constructed argument that the Gothic as a genre has been a transnational endeavour from its very inception and has carried global underpinnings throughout its lengthy history as both a literary and filmic tradition.” —Dr. Guillermo Rodríguez-Romaguera, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, US

Author Information

Keith McDonald holds a PhD from Birkbeck College, University of London, and is a senior lecturer of film studies and media at York St John University, UK.

Wayne Johnson is a senior lecturer in media and film studies at York St. John University. He received his PhD from Keele University, UK.


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Table of Contents

Acknowledgements; Introduction; 1. The Gothic Tradition Illuminated on Screen; 2. Grief Encounters: Ghost Narratives; 3. Folk in Hell: Rurality in Transition; 4. Vampire Gothic as Post- Exotic Gloom; 5. Shock and Awe: Cosmic Horror as Existential Crisis; 6. De-composmolitanism: Zombie Horror as Apocalypse; Coda; Bibliography; Index.


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