David Sutton (ed.) - Fortean Times # 337 (February, 2016)
Cover art [uncredited] Hector Garrido
THE RETURN OF GOTHIC ROMANCE: Guillermo del Toro described his recent film Crimson Peak as a “classic Gothic Romance”, a genre that has been consigned to oblivion for nearly four decades. But what is Gothic Romance, what makes it different from horror and why did it fall into obscurity? MARIA J PEREZ CUERVO dons her best nightie and goes in search of answers …
"The single-lit window from one of the top levels is a merciless eye that watches the heroine's every movement ...." First issue of FT I've bought in over five years, and that primarily on the strength of the cover feature, Maria J. Perez Cuervo's thoughtful and enthusiastic article on the rise, fall and (if Crimson Peaks has anything to do with it), mini-revival of the Gothic Romance genre in fiction and on screen. The Return Of Gothic Romance runs to eight pages, but as four of these are devoted to a reproduction of a Harry Barton painting, a Paperback Fanatic style mini-gallery, and the aforementioned interview with Guillermo del Toro, it's important that the author cuts straight to the chase, and she does. Following the briefest history lesson, MJPC hones in on four novels of particular significance: Ann Radcliffe's Mysteries of Udolpho, Daphne du Maurier's Rebecca and Hitchcock's film treatment of same , "Victoria Holt"'s overnight sensation Mistress Of Mellyn (a hybrid of Charlotte Brontë and du Maurier), and, shrewdly, Louisa May Alcott's decidedly non-Gothic sell-out to "monstrous domesticity," Little Women. According to Maria, Alcott's preference had been to continue writing tales of terror until persuaded that sentimental slush had greater sales potential. Her most famous work doubtless kept the bank manager sweet, but Alcott detested it. It's a fascinating piece on a subject I hope the author will return to at a later date.
Elsewhere we find Theo Paijmans on "Monster panics" among the Afro-American communities of South Carolina and Florida throughout 1938, featuring an El Paso precursor to the Gorbals Vampire, an otter on the rampage, and a dog-eating "thing," one or more of which entities may have been the invention of a racist newspaper hack. Amanda Rees sets out in search of "the twins of Tregavon," supposedly genuine Neanderthals who survived into the nineteen sixties, last known whereabouts, high up in the Welsh hills behind a ruined monastery. Paul Koudounaris travels to Indonesia to fraternise with the Salawesi mummies on their special day of the dead, and Alan Murdie investigates spooky phenomena in eldritch, legend-haunted Bishop Stortford. Weird news round up The Wilder Shores Of Love proves there's someone for everything, be it playground slide, tow bar, or miniature pony, although the initial report on the arrest of a serial tractor-molester in Sussex - "When officers searched his terraced home they found 5,000 images on his laptop" - has since been revealed as a (very wonderful) hoax. Finally (for time being), long-time resident artist Hunt Emerson and his partner in crime Kevin Jackson subject mystic-author-Grailoid Charles 'War in Heaven' Williams to the Phenomenomix treatment.
Coming next issue. In Crowley's Uniform: The Esoteric History of David Bowie.
From the first, I set myself against "literature"; the story was the thing, and no amount of style could persuade me to select a story that lacked genuine, unadulterated horror. For those who wanted something high-brow there was plenty.