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Gothic Melodrama

by Tadzio Bonaparte
In literature, the first type of melodrama to emerge was the Gothic Melodrama. Gothic Melodramas had romantic settings, such as crumbling castles, like in Holcroft’s Tale of Mystery (1824) and Matthew Lewis’ The Castle Spectre (1797), or forest cottages, as in Isaac Pocock’s The Miller and His Men (1813). Castles in these plays usually had several dungeons and these were inhabited by either ghosts or rightful heirs. The forests are as dark and gloomy as the castles, although they are brightened by flashes of lightening. The supernatural element may not always be present, but the frightening, foreboding and mysterious atmosphere always… Read more

In literature, the first type of melodrama to emerge was the Gothic Melodrama.

Gothic Melodramas had romantic settings, such as crumbling castles, like in Holcroft’s Tale of Mystery (1824) and Matthew Lewis’ The Castle Spectre (1797), or forest cottages, as in Isaac Pocock’s The Miller and His Men (1813). Castles in these plays usually had several dungeons and these were inhabited by either ghosts or rightful heirs. The forests are as dark and gloomy as the castles, although they are brightened by flashes of lightening. The supernatural element may not always be present, but the frightening, foreboding and mysterious atmosphere always remains.

In film, Gothic Melodrama is a very special brand of the ever popular Melodrama style that emerged in the late 30’s and that featured not only old Gothic mansions, dozens of burning candles, foggy streets illuminated by gaslight, mysteries and haunting family secrets, Victorian ladies walking through dark corridors, Byronic heroes like Orson Welles or James Mason, tall dark villains like Vincent Price and tragic ghost stories… but also tragic, doomed love, haunted by guilt, remorse, betrayal or death.

The following are some of the best examples I can find of this genre (in no particular order). Enjoy.

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