The public venerates the character of Hannibal Lecter as a celebrity, as an icon, as a cult hero, and indeed, the public appears to love Hannibal Lecter. But why do we love him? Lanchester has suggested that Hannibal Lecter “is attractive because we are repulsive: the more people like Lecter, the worse the news about human nature.” It does seem strange that the public would embrace a villain in such a way. One journalist astutely asked, “How can one make a murderous psychopath who not only kills his victims but eats them, sometimes alive, into a cult hero? What kind of civilisation celebrates such a creation?” This is an important question. Indeed, the veneration of a cannibal killer may imply that something has gone horribly awry within our culture. But perhaps Hannibal Lecter resonates in the public imagination for some other, more profound reason.
If many of Creighton Tull Chaney’s characters were afflicted by psychological problems, these problems were rarely the megalomania that so often underpinned the characters of William Henry Pratt and Béla Ferenc Dezső Blaskó. On the contrary, he often portrayed tragic figures, men who were the victim of forces beyond their control (as in the case of ‘The Wolf Man’). Consequently, while many have seen him as a wooden or mechanical performer, in his characters were often no more than tragic, if tortured, hulks who were motivated by external forces such as arbitrary curses, pagan priests, and mad scientists.
When we consider gothic storytelling, we do not often concern ourselves with where it came from. Preferably, most of us have a general sense of the genre, which has, like all other genres in fiction, evolved over the years. A gothic tale does not necessarily belong to a particular specific setting or era but evokes an atmosphere comprised of fear, horror, and darkness — though often with distinct glimmers of romance or hope beneath the surface.
Whereas the Western and the crime film were the dominant genres of the late sixties and early seventies, horror and science fiction are the reigning popular forms of the late seventies and early eighties. Launched by blockbusters like ‘The Exorcist’ and ‘Jaws,’ the cycle has flourished steadily; it seems as unstoppable as some of the demons it has spawned. The present cycle, like the horror cycle of the thirties and the science fiction cycle of the fifties, comes at a particular kind of moment in American history-one where feelings of paralysis, helplessness, and vulnerability (hallmarks of the nightmare) prevail. If the Western and the crime film worked well as open forums for the debate about our values and our history during the years of the Vietnam war, the horror and science fiction film poignantly expresses the sense of powerlessness and anxiety that correlates with times of Whereas the Western and recession, Cold War strife, galloping inflation, and national confusion.
Cellphones and new and affordable technologies can be an incredible promotional tool for aspiring writers and directors to create a short film. Finding new ways to express ideas using audiovisual means seems a never ending task for those who are not financially capable to buy or even rent the equipment required for high-level technology, but with smartphones that advertise themselves to be as good as a professional camera, the possibility to produce a film seems to be more accessible now than ever before. That is the premise of Smart Films Festival, where you can create a short film and find out how to apply for an orange economy in the film industry. This festival is in its third year at the Teatro Cafam de Bellas Artes.
It is within the medium of cinema that the concept of the vampire is introduced, born out of the ideology surrounding the myth. In the first decade of feature films, Andrea Weiss noted “[…] at least forty films about this mortal female vampire, whom men could find sexually enticing while women could fantasize female empowerment.” The notion of the “vampire” derived from the cinematic offering of ‘A Fool There Was’ (1915). The movie was inspired by a poem by Joseph Rudyard Kipling called ‘The Vampire’ (1897). However, the film itself did not portray an actual vampire, rather a woman who possessed seductive powers over men and used those powers callously without conscious or remorse, to the detriment of men and one married man in particular.
It is now nearly thirty years since David Pirie published his seminal ‘A Heritage of Horror,’ and far too many since it was last in print. In the intervening period, there has been an explosion of interest in the Gothic in general and in horror cinema, Gothic or otherwise, in particular. Whereas the unfortunate David Pirie had little more to draw on for critical sustenance than works such as Mario Praz’s ‘The Romantic Agony’ (1933), Devendra P. Varma’s ‘The Gothic Flame’ (1957) and the journal Midi Minuit Fantastique — all of them admittedly formidable in their different ways — the modern enthusiast for horror in all its forms has a truly remarkable number of texts to consult.