Terror and Wonder: The Gothic Imagination
The British Library are on a roll. They’ve followed up an excellent exhibition on book illustration with an equally good one on the Gothic. I absolutely loved it. The range is wide, taking in its origins in Horace Walpole’s The Castle of Otranto and Strawberrry Hill and going right up to the Whitby Goth Weekend, photographed by Martin Parr. It includes ghost stories, Victorian horror (Spring-heeled Jack, Sweeney Todd, Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde). Vampires, werewolves, zombies, doppelgängers: they are all here. I was particularly taken by a case containing a vampire-slaying kit, complete with mallet, stakes, and moulds for silver bullets.
A particular strength is that they have included extracts from films. There is Bride of Frankenstein; you can hear Elsa Lanchester screaming half way round the exhibition and whoever thought up that fabulous lightning bolt hair-do was a genius. There is The Wicker Man, Night of the Living Dead and many, many more, including one of my favourites, Night of the Demon, and a wonderful Spankmeyer short that I didn’t know about. There are recorded interviews with the likes of Neil Gaiman and Sarah Waters.
In truth, I am not a great horror fan, though I can enjoy almost anything if it is well done and I love a good ghost story. But there was so much of interest here that even a couple of hours wasn’t quite enough. Here is a link to the BL page which features a video and lots more: http://bit.ly/ZR3MQ6.