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Gothic Cinema: from Caligari to the Present

Course Times & Enrolment

Mondays from 25th September 2023 (Code FM167-102) Mondays from
25th September 2023 6:00pm - 8:50pm • (10 classes)
LG34 Paterson's Land, Holyrood Campus • Tutor: David M. Wingrove AB (Magna) MA BFI Cert
This course is now closed for enrolments

Course Summary

Audiences and critics will often describe a film as ‘Gothic’ – but what does that term actually mean? What impact has it had on the development of cinema? This course explores the history of ‘Gothic’ cinema from its silent Expressionist roots through its Hollywood heyday to the Post-Modern pastiches of today.

Course Details

Pre-requisites for enrolment

No previous knowledge of the subject is assumed. All that is required is a lively interest in cinema and a passion for new film experiences.

Content of Course

Week 1 – Introduction & Fin-de-Siècle Gothic

Selected clips and Satan Triumphant (Yakov Protazanov, Russia, 1917)

Week 2 – Expressionist Gothic

Warning Shadows (Arthur Robison, Germany, 1922)

Week 3 – Film Noir Gothic

Supernatural (Victor Halperin, USA, 1933) and The Seventh Victim (Mark Robson, 1943)

Week 4 – Arthouse Gothic

The Night of the Hunter (Charles Laughton, USA, 1955)

Week 5 – New Wave Gothic

Games (Curtis Harrington, USA, 1967)

Week 6 – Surrealist Gothic

Alice (Claude Chabrol, France, 1976)

Week 7 – Eurotrash Gothic

Doctor Jekyll and the Women (Walerian Borowczyk, France, 1981)

Week 8 – Psychological Gothic

Lost Highway (David Lynch, USA, 1997)

Week 9 – Post-Modern Gothic

Only Lovers Left Alive (Jim Jarmusch, USA, 2013)

Week 10 – The Future is Gothic

Crimes of the Future (David Cronenberg, Canada, 2022)

Teaching method(s)

Every session (apart from Weeks 1 and 10) will consist of a short presentation of the film, followed by a full screening and a whole-group discussion. In the first and final weeks, a mixture of lectures, clips and discussions will be used to outline the key themes of the course. Each session will last three hours.

Learning outcomes

By the end of this course, students should be able to:

  • Describe the relevance of ‘Gothic’ to various film genres;

  • Relate ‘Gothic’ cinema to the wider development of film history;

  • Locate the notion of ‘Gothic’ within a social and cultural context;

  • Identify links between ‘Gothic’ and 20th and 21st century history.


Core Readings


  • Clarens, C., 1997. An Illustrated History of Horror and Science-Fiction Films: The Classic Era, 1895-1967. New York: Da Capo Press.

  • Eisner, L., 1992. The Haunted Screen: Expressionism in the German Cinema and the Influence of Max Reinhardt. Berkeley: University of California Press.

  • Rigby, J., 2007. American Gothic: Sixty Years of Horror Cinema. New York: Reynolds & Hearn.

  • Rigby, J., 2015. English Gothic: Classic Horror Cinema 1897-2015. London: Signum Books.

  • Rigby, J., 2016. Euro Gothic: Classics of Continental Horror Cinema. London: Signum Books.

Web Sources

Class Handouts

Historical and critical notes for all films shown. Short critical extracts on selected films.


If you have questions regarding the course or enrolment, please contact COL Reception at Paterson's Land by email or by phone 0131 650 4400.

Student support

If you have a disability, learning difficulty or health condition which may affect your studies, please let us know by ticking the 'specific support needs' box on your course application form. This will allow us to make appropriate adjustments in advance and in accordance with your rights under the Equality Act 2010. For more information please visit the Student Support section of our website.