1/23/13

Artful Conception #17: Women Running from Houses



The Gothic horror tradition can be traced back to any number of sources.  I've heard Mathew Lewis' Monk as the progenitor of them all, and it is indeed a horrifying treat to say the least.  It's got every convention you can imagine: darkened tombs, black misty forests, haunted hallways, satanic clergy.  It would make one helluva movie, but it's so nonlinear that I honestly don't see how you could translate it to a screenplay.

I've tried to trudge my way through other Gothic horror literature; more often than not, I have a difficult time making it through them.  Melmoth the Wanderer and Uncle Silas are classics of the genre, but I've never made it past the first few chapters of each.  The Turn of the Screw and The Fall of the House of Usher are much more pleasant reads.

It was Ann Radcliff's The Mysteries of Udolpho that really began the "women running from houses" motif.  The brand has extended across the decades, hitting a crescendo in the 1960s and 70s, where there was a seemingly infinite array of "women running from houses" paperbacks hitting the shelves.  Part Gothic horror, part romance - the ladies back then just couldn't get enough.  And every book, without exception, bore the same composition so there could be no doubt what genre we're dealing with.

The Gothic romance wasn't quite the sensation in other media.  I suppose you could include Dark Shadows as a television translation of the genre; and perhaps Mario Bava's work captured the feel of these books better than any other director.  But, by and large, the phenomenon was confined to paperback novels.  And here is a few shining examples.  Enjoy.




















9 comments:

  1. Amazing how many variations there are on certain themes!

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  2. I remember a post just like this on a retro site a few years back. 'Sokay by me, there's more than one art gallery in the world!
    I bet that Lyda Belknap Long is really Weird Tales Frank.

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  3. One of the early promotional photos for the TV show Dark Shadows featured Alexandra Moltke (Not sure of spelling), who played Victoria Winters running from Collinwood.

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  4. I remember the Nancy Drew novels had similar types of pictures of her running from a house. Wait...you should do a post on Nancy Drew book covers....but perhaps you already have.

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  5. I read some of these! The Devil's Dreamer, Seminar in Evil, and Seed of Evil were pretty good! Definitely great reads if you're in the mood for something light (but kinda dark) and fun. Also the ones set in 'contemporary' times give a nice glimpse into the time (mid 60s to mid 70s).

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  6. Ta da!

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Monk_(2011_film)

    It isn't bad either

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  7. Love 'em! An artist named George Ziel was responsible for some of the greatest Gothic paperback cover art; Google him, you won't be disappointed!

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  8. I have read that Ace Books (which in the '60s had a gothic line edited by Terry Carr) was the first to hit on the formula for covers that involved the woman in foreground running from the large imposing house with 1 (one) lit window...man in background in front of house (but small, to make him more faintly sinister and suggest the immensity of the house) optional.

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  9. You've neglected the other absolute indicator: The presence of one (1) lighted window. Never two; no porch lights, car headlights, or other distractions. Window, Lighted: One (1) - check.

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