Deliberately slow-paced as if stuck in a permanent nightmare – Werner Herzog’s homage to F.W. Murnau’s 1922 German expressionist horror is richly textured and heavily stylised, even pestilence and the walking dead briefly unite for a dance macabre whilst certain doom looms over the town of Wismar.
As Kate Bush announces her first tour in 35 years, let’s delve through her back catalogue and discover how the darker side of cinema influenced some of her greatest hits.
Despite a well-publicised reluctance to perform in front of an audience (although excitingly she has just announced a new tour after a break of 35 years), Kate Bush has embraced film, and many of her music videos are works of art in themselves. Cloudbusting may be the most celebrated, an exhilarating and moving short conceived with Terry Gilliam and starring Donald Sutherland, but the video for Experiment IV – a darkly comic tale of government conspiracy starring Dawn French, Hugh Laurie, and Bush as a horrific banshee – has to be seen to be believed.
Movies – specifically gothic horror movies – have had an acknowledged influence on Bush’s back catalogue. Hammer Horror, named after the British production company, tells of a death and subsequent haunting on the film set of The Hunchback of Notre Dame. One of her most unnerving tracks, Waking the Witch from Hounds of Love, imagines the drowning of a woman accused of sorcery and seems indebted to Michael Reeves’s Witchfinder General (1968). Sutherland was cast in the Cloudbusting video following his appearance in Don’t Look Now (1973), and she borrowed the choral section of Hello Earth – the Georgian folk song Tsin Tskaro – from Werner Herzog’s remake of Nosferatu (1979).
While the BFI Southbank’s epic Gothic season trundles on, reaching a Part 4 that includes Cocteau’s eerie Beauty and the Beast, this week another extraordinary classic — Charles Laughton’s Night of the Hunter — is reissued.
The cream of contemporary British designers got to work to create gothic special edition covers for eight titles in our BFI Film Classics book series. Here they talk us through their inspiration.