Gothic Terror

A monstrous setting is a crucial component in gothic terror; becoming as important as any character. Gothic settings usually include specific types of architecture where space and darkness become paramount to the plot; subterraneous dungeons, tunnels, dark corridors, and winding staircases meet flickering candles, beams of moonlight, and shadows to evoke the desired terror in the audience. One commonality across several of our settings is that they appear to function as “monstrous” homes. These monstrous homes can be observed in natural settings, such as islands and coasts, and in more conventional home-type spaces, such as “The Murder House” in American Horror Story and “The Overlook Hotel” in The Shining. The monstrous home has also been portrayed in other fantastical or exotic settings such as the spaceship in Prometheus. In each setting, the home, whether it be a coast or a spaceship, plays a critical role in highlighting the monstrosity of the characters that it houses. Ironically, these “homes” do not provide comfort and relief to their inhabitants and instead create feelings of isolation and confinement; this serves to further exaggerate the horrifying events which take place in each work. Additionally, settings have greater functions than simply providing a space for monsters; the setting can not only create horror but also help articulate the values or morality of a character, or even serve as a commentary about society or a cultural moment.

You can find all our group posts by searching for the tag “gothic terror.” Here is a clickable list of all our settings:

Alcatraz in Escape from Alcatraz (Don Siegel, 1979)

The cabin in Evil Dead (Fede Alvarez, 2013)

The coast in The Mermaid (Anne Bannerman, 1800)

The hotel in The Shining (Stanley Kubrick, 1980)

The house in The Conjuring (James Wan, 2013)

The laboratory in Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (John S. Robertson, 1920)

The Mines of Moria in Lord of the Rings (J.R.R. Tolkien, 1954)

The “murder house” in American Horror Story (Brad Falchuk and Ryan Murphy, 2011-)

The Paris Opera House in The Phantom of the Opera (Andrew Lloyd Webber, 2004)

The spaceship in Prometheus (Ridley Scott, 2004)

The shopping mall in Dawn of the Dead (George A. Romero, 1978)

Group Sources:

Bailey, Dale. American Nightmares: The Haunted House Formula in American Popular Fiction. Bowling Green, OH: Bowling Green State University Popular, 1999. Print.

Bantinaki, Katerina. “The Paradox of Horror: Fear as a Positive Emotion.” Journal of Aesthetics & Art Criticism. 70.4 (2012): 383-392. Print.

Bayer-Berenbaum, Linda. The Gothic Imagination: Expansion in Gothic Literature and Art. Rutherford: Fairleigh Dickinson UP, 1982. Print.

Beebe, John. “The Shining by Stanley Kubrick; Stanley Kubrick; Diane Johnson.” The San Franciso Jung Institute Library Journal 1.4 (1980): 57-61. Web. 18 Nov. 2013.

Borel, Petrus. “Petrus Borel, Prison Horrors, and the Gothic Tradition.” Forums on Fiction 2.2 (1969): 143-152. Print.

Boswell, George W. “Tolkien as Littérateur.” The South Central Bulletin Winter 32.4 (1972): 188-97. JSTOR. Web. 19 Nov. 2013.

Botting, Fred. “Future Horror (the Redundancy of Gothic) Gothic Studies (1999): 133-55.

Brisbois, Michael J. “Tolkien’s Imaginary Nature: An Analysis of the Structure of Middle-Earth.” Tolkien Studies 2 (2005): 197-216. Project MUSE. Web. 5 Nov. 2013.

Cambridge, Ada. “The Haunted House.” The North American Review 207.747 (1918): 268-277. JSTOR. Web. 20 Nov. 2013.

Cavallaro, Dani. The Gothic Vision: Three Centuries of Horror, Terror and Fear. London: Continuum, 2002. Print.

Cohen, Jeffrey Jerome. “Monster Culture (Seven Theses).” Monster Theory: Reading Culture. Ed. Jeffrey Jerome Cohen. Minneapolis: U. of Minnesota Press, 1996. 3-25.

Cuddon, J.A. The Penguin Dictionary of Literary Terms and Literary Theory. London: Penguin Books, 1991. Print.

Craciun, Adriana. “Fatal Women of Romanticism.” Cambridge University Press. 2002.

Craciun, Adriana. “Bannerman, Anne (1765 – 1829).” Oxford Dictionary of National Biography. 2004.

Creed, Barbara. “Kristeva, Femininity, Abjection.” The Horror Reader. Ed. Ken Gelder. New York: Routledge, 2000. 64-70. Print.

Curtis, Barry. Dark Places: The Haunted House in Film. London: Reaktion, 2008. Print.

“Discontinuity: Spaceships at the Abyss.” Science Fiction and the Two Cultures: Essays on Bridging the Gap Between the Sciences and the Humanities. Ed. Gary Westfahl and George Edgar. Jefferson: MacFarland, 2009. 131-139. Print.

Douglas, Mary. Purity and Danger, an Analysis of Concepts of Pollution and Taboo. New York: Praeger Publishers, 1966. Print. An International Journal of the Humanities

Dunnigan, Sarah. “Strange Stories: Collecting, Translating, and Imagining Mermaids in Early Nineteenth-Century Scotland.” Sun Yat-sen Journal of Humanities. 2011.

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Foucault, Michel. “Of Other Spaces.” Diacritics 16.1 (1986): 22-27. Print.

Gannon, Todd. “Return of the Living Dead: Archigram and Architecture’s Monstrous Media.” JSTOR. 2008. Web.

Glover, Willis B. “The Christian Character of Tolkien’s Invented World.” Criticism Winter 13.1 (1971): 39-53. JSTOR. Web. 19 Nov. 2013.

Goddu, Teresa A. “Introduction to American Gothic.” The Horror Reader. Ed. Ken Gelder. London: Routledge, 2000. N. pag. Print.

Grider, Sylvia. “The Haunted House in Literature, Popular Culture, and Tradition: A Consistent Image.” Contemporary Legend: The Journal of the International Society for Contemporary Research 2. (1999): 174-204.

Haining, Peter. Foreword. The Phantom of the Opera. By Gaston Leroux. New York: Dorset, 1985. 7-24. Print.

Hall, Ann C. Phantom Variations: The Adaptations of Gaston Leroux’s Phantom of the Opera, 1925 to the Present. Jefferson, NC: McFarland &, 2009. Print.

Hogle, Jerrold E. The Undergrounds of the Phantom of the Opera: Sublimation and the Gothic in Leroux’s Novel and Its Progeny. New York, NY: Palgrave, 2002. Print.

Holland, Norman and Leona Sherman. “Gothic Possibilities.” The Johns Hopkins University Press. New Literary History. Vol. 8. No. 2, Explorations in Literary History. Winter, 1977. 279-294.

Huckvale, David. Touchstones of Gothic Horror: A Film Genealogy of Eleven Motifs and Images. Jefferson, NC: McFarland &, 2010. Print.

Keech, James. “The Survival of the Gothic Response.” University of North Texas Press. Studies in the Novel, Vol. 6, No. 2. Summer 1974. 130-144.

Kidd, Briony. “Scream Time: Women Take Power Over Horror.” Metro. 17.3 (2012): 102-105. Print.

Kilker, Robert. “All Roads Lead to the Abject: The Monstrous Feminine and Gender Boundaries.” Literature Film Quarterly. 34.1 (2006): 54-63. Print.

Kosofsky, Eve. The Coherence of Gothic Conventions. New York: Arno Press, 1980. Print.

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Leiobwitz, Flo, and Lynn Jeffress. “The Shining by Stanley Kubrick.” Film Quarterly 43.3 (1981): 45-51. JSTOR. Web. 19 Nov. 2013.

Long, Carolyn Morrow. Madame Lalaurie, Mistress of the Haunted House. Gainseville: University of Florida, 2012. Print.

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Murphy, Bernice M. “‘You Son of a Bitch! You Only Moved the Headstones!’ Haunted Suburbia.” The Suburban Gothic in American Popular Culture. Basingstoke, Hampshire: Palgrave Macmillan, 2009. 104-135. Print.

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Poole, W. Scott. “Haunted Houses.” Monsters in America: Our Historical Obsession with the Hideous and the Haunting. Waco: Baylor University Press, 2011. 167-191. Print.

Punter, David, and Glennis Byron. “Gothic Film.” The Gothic. Malden, MA: Blackwell Pub., 2004. 65-70. Print.

Radner, Hilary. The Naked and Undead: Evil and the Appeal of Horror. Boulder: Westview Press. 2000.

Vargish, Thomas. “Technology and Impotence in Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein.” War, Literature & The Arts: An International Journal of the Humanities 21. 1/2 (2009): 322-337. Print.

Tracy, Ann Blaisdell. Patterns of Fear in the Gothic Novel, 1790-1830. New York: Arno, 1980. Print.

Williams, Anne. “The Horror, The Horror: Recent Studies in Gothic Fiction.” MFS Modern Fiction Studies Fall 46.3 (2000): 789-99. JSTOR. Web.

Williams, Tony. “Introduction: Family Assault in the American Horror Film.” Hearths of Darkness: The Family in the American Horror Film. Madison: Fairleigh Dickinson University Press, 1996. 13-30. Print.



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