Hollywood Gothic, 1930-1960

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This chapter challenges the notion that the period is framed by two cinematic moments: the release of Dracula (1931) and The Curse of Frankenstein (1957). In contrast, it demonstrates that the former film emerged out of trends established in the 1920s and that, even in the 1930s, Universal was not the only game in town, and that other models of the Gothic cinema existed alongside it. It then moves on to explore developments in the 1940s, when many Gothic horror films pursued respectability through both the use of psychological materials and an association with female viewers. Finally, the chapter moves on to examine how the science fiction horror films of the 1950s sought to legitimise their monsters through scientific rather than supernatural explanations. The chapter also explores the ways in which these films provided a context for the making of The Curse of Frankenstein, even as they were countered by an alternative tradition of psychological horror that developed out of the success of the art house hit, Les Diaboliques (1955), and of the television series, Alfred Hitchcock Presents (1955-65).

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationThe Cambridge History of the Gothic
Subtitle of host publicationVolume 3: Gothic in the Twentieth and Twenty-First Centuries
EditorsCatherine Spooner, Dale Townsend
PublisherCambridge University Press
Number of pages19
ISBN (Electronic)9781108624268
ISBN (Print)9781108662017
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2021


  • adaptions
  • film noir
  • gendered audiences
  • psychological horror
  • science fiction
  • the film industry
  • the paranoid woman’s film

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