Some Documentaries on Gothic Horror Literature and Writers – Full Episodes

Hello my little bottles of multi-coloured decorative sand. I’m watching more weird films for my next blog post but in the meantime here are a few documentaries from the web featuring our gothic horror writing ancestors, dodgy re-enactments and ominously misty trees included.

Edgar Allen Poe: Love Death And Women is an informative and entertaining account of Poe’s life and the women around him by crime writer Denise Mina. Plus whoever did the music is a serious goth; Bauhaus, The Cure, The Hunger soundtrack and more.

Frankenstein and the Vampyre: A Dark And Stormy Night illuminates the exciting summer in which Frankenstein (Mary Shelley) and the Vampyre (John Polidori) were created. Mary Shelley was only 19, which is fascinating, but less known is the author of the other story, a man mercilessly ridiculed by Byron.

Here’s a little more on Mary Shelley’s fabulously unusual life in Birth of a Monster.

Nightmare! Birth of Horror was a documentary from 1996 I remember being very excited by as a young ‘un. This episode looks at Arthur Conan Doyle’s Hound of the Baskervilles.

This one looks at Dracula

…And this one at Jekyll and Hyde.

The Art of Gothic series explores gothic literature and art in Britain from the Georgian to Victorian era and beyond.

And finally In Search of the Brontes is a two part series on the sisters in six parts each. That’s a lot of parts. However it’s worth it, many of the Bronte’s writing is firmly rooted in the gothic tradition, particularly the psychopathic Heathcliff from Wuthering Heights.

Part 1:

Part 2:

Bizarre Book Club 5: A Drug and Madness Special

Drugs and madness, everyone’s favourite things! It’s in the lyrics of the extra bit in that number Julie Andrews sang to the Von Trapp children that ended up on the cutting room floor. It’s true. Bee keeping was probably in there too.

I'm dead intellectual I am
I’m dead intellectual I am

Anyway…we all love Burroughs, but what of those before him?

1. Confessions of an English Opium Eater by Thomas De Quincey. Essentially Junky for the Georgian period, this long and rather waffling essay (still entertaining though, don’t get me wrong) details the author’s fall into the grip of opium addiction. Made more interesting by the fact that his buddies and fellow hop heads were Byron and Coleridge, I recommend this to anyone with a high concentration level, which I admit wasn’t always me (ooh, squirrels).

2. The Decapitated Chicken and Other Stories by Horacio Quiroga. Here’s a blog post on the Uruguayan author’s frankly depressing life and possibly the reason his stories frequently include death, madness and murder. Perhaps I’m wrong but I get the feeling his writing is more poetic than the English translation, however I still enjoyed his Mediterranean infused gothic tales.

3. Hunger by Knut Hamsun. The main character in Norwegian writer Knut Hamsun’s turn of the century novel is really hungry. Seriously, that’s the basis of the book, and it’s amazing.

Hamsun wanted to show the fragility of human perception by detailing the ups and downs in a struggling writer’s life. Everything seems hopeful when he’s had a bit of bread, but without it he does and says some very peculiar things, including harassing a young lady as she wanders down the street and almost eating a pencil. It’s much better than I’ve explained here so I suggest getting a copy forthwith.

4. The Young Doctor’s Notebook (or Country Doctor’s Notebook)/Morphine by Mikhail Bulgakov. Frequently paired together, especially since the brilliant adaptation featuring Jon Hamm, this collection of short stories details in naturalistic prose the usually surreal author’s (his other works include The Master and Margarita) time as a country doctor in Russia. Oh, and his raging morphine addiction.

The stories of treating his confused peasant patients are worth it alone (a woman in labour is brought in and the midwives check her vagina only to find lumps of sugar inserted. The baby was overdue and they’d apparently tried to ‘lure it out’). However some of the nightmarish scenarios in Morphine (a fictionalised account, as are all the stories) stay with you. I had no idea morphine withdrawal would really cause terrifying hallucinations, I thought that scene in Trainspotting was just to jazz it up a bit.

He’s a funny and thought provoking writer and I’m now going to search out his other, apparently weirder, works and you probably should too.

Well that’s all I have time for, but be sure to tune in for more exciting updates. In the meantime, here’s a cat saying “Oh Long Johnson.”