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The Cambridge History of the Gothic The Cambridge History of the Gothic
Volume 3: Gothic in the Twentieth and Twenty-First Centuries
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3.4 - Hollywood Gothic, 1930–1960

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  29 July 2021

Catherine Spooner
Affiliation:
Lancaster University
Dale Townshend
Affiliation:
Manchester Metropolitan University
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Summary

This chapter challenges the notion that the period is framed by two cinematic moments: the release of Dracula (1931) and The Curse of Frankenstein (1957). In contrast, it demonstrates that the former film emerged out of trends established in the 1920s and that, even in the 1930s, Universal was not the only game in town, and that other models of the Gothic cinema existed alongside it. It then moves on to explore developments in the 1940s, when many Gothic horror films pursued respectability through both the use of psychological materials and an association with female viewers. Finally, the chapter moves on to examine how the science fiction horror films of the 1950s sought to legitimise their monsters through scientific rather than supernatural explanations. The chapter also explores the ways in which these films provided a context for the making of The Curse of Frankenstein, even as they were countered by an alternative tradition of psychological horror that developed out of the success of the art house hit, Les Diaboliques (1955), and of the television series, Alfred Hitchcock Presents (1955–65).

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The Cambridge History of the Gothic
Volume 3: Gothic in the Twentieth and Twenty-First Centuries
, pp. 80 - 98
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2021

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