The British Film Institute (BFI) is to launch a major project dedicated to Gothic cinema, which includes more than 150 films and around 1,000 screenings throughout the UK.

Running from August until January 2014, the Gothic project include the longest ever season at BFI’s Southbank venue in London, UK wide theatrical and DVD releases, an education programme, a new BFI Gothic book, a range of partnerships, special guests and commentators including project ambassador Sir Christopher Frayling.

Heather Stewart, creative director at the BFI, said: “Gothic has never been more potent or popular, reflecting the turbulent times we are living in, our deepest fears and hidden passions.

“The British discovered sex in vivid Technicolor through Gothic. With a new generation gripped by the post modern Gothic world of Twilight’s ‘vegetarian’ vampires, Harry Potter’s spells and EL James’s 50 Shades, its meaning has mutated yet again. It’s now time to look back into the deep dark beating heart of Gothic film and give audiences the authentic thrill of this shape-shifting, perennially popular genre.”

BFI Southbank season

During the four-month season at the BFI Southbank, from October 21 to January 31, exclusive previews will be accompanied by special guests including Roger Corman, George A Romero and Jane Goldman.

Films screened will range from the earliest days of silent cinema with seminal European films The Cabinet of Dr Caligari (1920) and Nosferatu (1922), through The Haunting (1963) and The Masque of the Red Death (1964) to An American Werewolf in London (1981), before bringing audiences up-to-date with The Woman in Black (2012).

Monster Weekend

A BFI Monster Weekend will be held at the British Museum in London.

The weekend will launch on August 29 with the world premiere of the new digital re-mastering of Jacques Tourneur’s Night of the Demon (1957), introduced live by the film’s heroine Peggy Cummins.

Dracula (1958) and The Mummy (1959) screen respectively on the following two evenings, both starring Sir Christopher Lee and Peter Cushing and directed by Terence Fisher.

Prior to that, at London’s Somerset House, on August 15, there will be a BFI talk by Jasper Sharp on ‘Asian Gothic and the Japanese Ghost Story’ before an outdoor screening of Akira Kurosawa’s Throne of Blood.

Nationwide events

At the Edinburgh International Festival, composer Philip Glass’s reimagining of Jean Cocteau’s 1946 La Belle et la Bête will be presented on August 10 and 11.

Stanley Kubrick’s The Shining will be presented outdoors at Mapledurham House, Oxfordshireby Cult Screens on September 13.

A Gothic double bill will be screened on October 26 at the Cornerhouse Manchester by Manchester Metropolitan University as part of their city-wide Gothic Manchester events programme.

The BFI has struck a partnership with Film4 that will include a season of Gothic features on the channel over the Hallowe’en period.

Working with the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art in conjunction with their ‘Witchcraft & Wicked Bodies’ exhibition (July 27-Nov 3) and Filmhouse, a season of Gothic films and events will be presented.

The BFI has also struck a new partnership with Abertoir: Wales’ International Horror Festival, which runs November 5-10.

Nationwide BFI cinema releases will include Werner Herzog’s Nosferatu the Vampyre – launching with Hallowe’en previews – and Jack Clayton’s The Innocents, released on December 13.

DVDs, books

A total of nine new BFI DVD’s will be released including:

  • the BBC TV adaptation of Sheridan Le Fanu’s Schalcken the Painter (1979)
  • M R James’ Classic Ghost Stories (1986)
  • James Hill’s The Man from Nowhere (1975)
  • John Krish’s Out of the Darkness (1985)
  • Robin Redbreast (1970)
  • episodes of Dead of Night (1972)
  • Rupert Julian’s newly restored silent classic Phantom of the Opera (1925)
  • the BFI National Archive digital re-mastering of Thorold Dickinson’s Gaslight (1940)
  • vintage ghost story series Supernatural (1977)

A new BFI publication, titled Gothic: The Dark Heart of Film, will feature new essays by filmmakers and scholars such as Guillermo del Toro, Sir Christopher Frayling, Marina Warner, Roger Corman, Mark Kermode and Jane Goldman


A major BFI Education programme, titled ’13 x ’13, will aim to inspire Gothic imagination in younger audiences and launches September 13.

With new examples released on a weekly basis throughout the programme, the programme will provide lesson resources and teaching materials to support teachers around the UK to make the most of the list of Gothic films – with resources from Special Collections or explanatory films featuring Gothic experts, specially commissioned for the project.

A two-week Gothic film school will transform BFI Southbank, along with Gothic weekenders, events for schools, and a special partnership with Penguin books and Zombie creator Charlie Higson to create a new trailer for his latest flesh-eating tale The Fallen.

BFI Education is also partnering with the National Association of Teachers of English on a conference for 150 English teachers in December, themed around the Gothic.

Across the country the BFI will be supporting conferences for teachers and students, with the help of Film Nation UK as the UK wide partner over the next six to nine months. For older learners a variety of lectures, library talks, study days and illustrated presentations – with a range of partners – will run throughout October to January.