Friday, September 11, 2015

What is Dreadpunk?

I came across an interesting article recently on The Daily Dot by Aja Romano about a new horror genre called Dreadpunk. The term was coined by Derek Tatum from He describes the genre as "period piece gothic horror created by modern writers and film makers". He in no way claims inventing the genre, instead he just says that he and his friends are having fun with it. My first reaction was... Oh yes, sign me up! The genre is described as being all about gothic victorian based literature, classic gothic monsters from the victorian penny dreadfuls, and dark macabre subjects like ghost hunting and post mortem photography. Dreadpunk is claiming to "push horror and dark fantasy in a new direction." I like that sentiment, especially if it means there will be plenty of new gothic fiction, TV shows, and movies coming our way soon!

The article references RomantiGoth and Victorian Goth fashion style also. Now anyone who reads my blog knows I've been into that style for a long time now. It's nothing new to me. In fact it's very, very old. Most of the clothing I make and wear can be described that way. I started making these styles back in the late 80s/early 90s.  In fact, most of us old school goths know and love this style already. We have been wearing the clothes, reading the literature, and watching the movies since the beginning of time! So... What's new here? Frankly, I think the only new thing about this supposedly new horror genre is the name Dreadpunk. And it is indeed a catchy name. So like it or not, I think it's here to stay folks. 

Since this genre certainly isn't new to most of us, it made me think about the cycles of the gothic culture. It seems like gothic culture is on a 30 year cycle to me. Every 30 years it has a reemergence and gathers a mainstream following. Think about it. "Gothic" as we know it today started with the Victorians. They lived it every day. Everything from their clothing, literature, architecture, etc. was all about the dark and sometimes hidden side of life and they loved their Penny Dreadfuls about dark fantasy characters like Varney the Vampire. Almost all of the classic literature comes from this era also. The Victorians were quite obsessed with mourning. In fact, they had strict rules about what was proper to wear while in mourning. It was also a time of great technological advances. (which is where the whole steampunk genre comes from) I'm sure the gothic mindset is much older than the Victorians but when I think Gothic with a capital G, I tend to think of the late victorian period first. 

The next gothic cycle was in the 30s. This was the decade that all those wonderful gothic books like Bram Stoker's Dracula and Mary Shelley's Frankenstein were turned into movies by the Universal Studios. So gothic culture (or at least the movies based on the literature) became mainstream and created legendary movie stars in Bela Lugosi and Boris Karloff. 

Next up was the 60s. Yet again gothic movies were popular. Hammer Horror revived gothic horror by reinventing the classic monsters for a new generation. Roger Corman and Vincent Price were also churning out dark gothic movies like crazy based on Edgar Allan Poe stories. New legendary stars were created like Vincent Price, Peter Cushing, and Christopher Lee. With the new medium of TV this time around we also were spoiled with TV shows like Dark Shadows, The Munsters, and The Addams Family. 

By the 90s, gothic culture was turned up to 11. We had the 80s bat cavers and trad goths that had their own music genre and fashion style that eventually evolved into a more classic gothic style with lots of velvet and a hint of vampires. Anne Rice's vampire books were extremely popular in the 90s. We had the movies, the music, and the fashion in the 90s. We created a whole lifestyle. Some of us still live it everyday! Again the movies and TV shows reflected the classic gothic literature. Bram Stoker's Dracula, Interview With a Vampire, and The Nightmare Before Christmas were all mainstream movies in the 90s.

That brings us to the 2020s next. Is Dreadpunk just the reemergence of my beloved gothic genre with a new name? It seems like everyday there is a new genre or trend created on the Internet. Is this one going to actually stick around or will it fade away by 2020? Is it just in it's infancy? Maybe it will turn into something mainstream very soon. This new gothic trend started up again with the 2012 movie, The Woman in Black. I remember writing a movie review back then and waxing on poetically about how I would love for this movie to start a whole new trend in gothic films! I think I got my wish. Ha! The Woman in Black (brought to us by Hammer Horror again) started the trend but now it's growing. We have the TV series Penny Dreadful and another incredibly gothic movie coming in October called Crimson Peak. Hot Topic has a new clothing line based on Penny Dreadful and the malls are full of mainstream gothic clothes. I don't think all of this is just a coincidence. Maybe 5 years down the road is when the trend will hit its stride and go mainstream? We shall see! Until then there is a rich history of films, TV series, and books to soak in. 

Here is a gothic beginners list to get you started:

Gothic Literature:
Bram Stoker's Dracula 
Mary Shelley's Frankenstein 
The Castle of Otranto 
Edgar Allan Poe
The Picture of Dorian Gray
H.P. Lovecraft
Varney the Vampire
Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell
Anne Rice's Vampire Chronicles 
The Graveyard Book
The Sandman Graphic Novel Series

Gothic Films:
The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari 
Universal Studios Dracula and Frankenstein 
Hammer Horror and Amicus Films
Mario Bava's Black Sunday and Black Sabbath 
Roger Corman/Vincent Price Poe movies
Bram Stoker's Dracula 
Interview With the Vampire
The Crow
The Woman in Black (the original movie is just as good as the newer one)
Sweeney Todd
Sleepy Hollow
Nightmare Before Christmas 
Corpse Bride
Mary Reilly
From Hell
Pan's Labyrinth 

Gothic TV Series:

Penny Dreadful 
Sleepy Hollow
Dark Shadows
Forever Knight
American Horror Story (some seasons more than others)
Dracula (cancelled too soon)
Friday the 13th the series 
Buffy the Vampire Slayer/ Angel
Kolchak the Night Stalker

*all images gathered from Pinterest and Google images. 


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  2. I loved this post it was amazingly written and we'll planned. I found so interesting to read about the various forms of Goth. Last year the BBC with the British Library produced an array the Gothic series exploring all forms of medium, was interesting. I even went to the British Librarys Gothic and Terror series which was interesting and informative. Part of the event was put on to celebrate the First Gothic novel the castle of Ontranto by Horace Walpole and evolution of the genre from the Georgian period. So it started around mid 1700's but there debate whether gothic literature started earlier, I can't remember the book. Very interesting post

  3. Thank you Sarah. I knew it must be older than the victorians. But I chose to start there. Of course the gothic architecture is even older than the 1700s considering Notre Dame was completed in the 1300s. I think it's fascinating how it comes back every 30 years! It's like we suddenly remember there is this wonderful genre full of dark fantasy and monsters that need to be brought back.

  4. Officially the first completed gothic church was commissioned by Abbot Suger, who rebuilt St. Denis in 1135

  5. I love this term and these are my favourite types of books, shows and films.

  6. I love this genre also! Hopefully this means we are getting more new books and movies. I already came across the trailer for a new frankenstein starring Daniel Radcliffe. It looks like it might good! :)

  7. Cool post, I had not thought how Goth influence seems to surface like that over time! ^__^