A hospital in New York, and a woman seems to be losing the baby she’s carrying. Complete placental abruption, possibly brought about by cocaine use (not recommended, especially in the third trimester). Wait though, maybe it’s not the patient in trouble, but the doctor, Tora Hamilton (Neighbours graduate Radha Mitchell). Is she losing her baby too? There’s blood all over the place, anyway. There will be plenty more blood in Sacrifice (Channel 5, Sunday). And plenty more confusion.
Warped in all senses, fascinating and bizarre: this is the 1920 silent movie by Robert Wiene – now re-released in cinemas – that lay down a template for today’s scary movies, noirs and psychological thrillers. And it is topped off with a surprise ending that still gets used all the time now. With all the weird gaping and gurning, and the distorted perspective of its expressionist sets, Caligari is a nightmarish cinematic extension of Bram Stoker’s 1897 classic Dracula, combining as it does romantic superstition with the supposedly rational world of psychiatric surveillance and control.
Vampire fiction has long hewed to its Gothic roots, with rare deviations from the stake-fearing, sunlight-avoiding cornerstones.
But with their new FX series The Strain, based on the bestselling novels by Guillermo del Toro and Chuck Hogan, executive producers del Toro and Carlton Cuse hope to take a more modern – and more scientific – approach to bloodsuckers without losing the visceral thrill of bloody horror. Ahead of tonight’s premiere, Spinoff Online participated in a press call in which the two discusses their uncompromising view of vampire biology, the benefit to working on cable television, the design of their master vampire and the series’ five-year plan.
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Unconventional posthumous options were available in the concluding episode of Sky Atlantic’s gothic horror series Penny Dreadful. Billie Piper’s character Brona Croft, the consumptive Irish prostitute may have died a gruesome death, but that doesn’t prevent her from involvement in series two. Not if Victor Frankenstein (Harry Treadaway) has anything to do with it. After treating Brona on her deathbed, the young doctor gave this chilling reassurance to grieving Ethan (Josh Hartnett): “Don’t worry… I’ll take care of the body.”
Much as he did with the Western in Dead Man and samurai-gangster movies in Ghost Dog: The Way of the Samurai, writer-director Jim Jarmusch has a blast recontextualizing genre rules we thought we knew by heart with his latest film, the droll comedy Only Lovers Left Alive. In this case, he infiltrates the bloodstream of the “vampire movie” with a deadpan critique of cultural vapidity, and he doesn’t spare the imperiously condescending bloodsuckers too drug-addled and self-pitying to make a difference.
– Film Reviews – Film – May 22, 2014.
The latest examples of gothic horror on TV have ranged from the enjoyably campy (American Horror Story on Fox) to the oddly bloodless (Sky Living’s Dracula, cancelled after a single season). Producer/director Sam Mendes and his Skyfall collaborator, writer John Logan, have hedged their bets with Penny Dreadful (Sky Atlantic), a new series that acts as a kind of compendium of all the genre’s favourite tropes: body snatchers, opium dens, spiders and lots and lots of blood.