The Gift: Author RA Williams talks us through his top gothic horrors

On publication of his debut gothic horror The Gift, RA Williams talks exclusively to SciFiNow about his top gothic horrors in books, TV and film…

The Gift: Author RA Williams talks us through his top gothic horrors

As a massive fan of gothic horror both in fiction and film, it’s a tough question to answer when asked to choose my top few. Considering gothic horror fiction has existed in one form or another for 250 years since Horace Walpole’s The Castle of Otranto, there’s a lot to choose from.

Horror film is a more recent creation, yet still 100 years old with the release of Nosferatu in 1922. It makes my list for its minimalistic effects with maximum fright factor and still holds up today. I also count Whitley Strieber’s The Hunger. Both his magnificent work of fiction and the feature film. Having David Bowie and Catherine Deneuve as immortals is the very definition of gothic horror.

Also on the list is Murder by Decree, the 1979 film starring Christopher Plummer as Sherlock Holmes investigating the Whitechapel murders. Jack the Ripper and Sherlock Holmes? It doesn’t get much better than that.

Penny Dreadful, the Sky Atlantic horror mash-up and not the original penny-a-fright serials that made many a Victorian wet their knickers. Three seasons of Eva Green and Rory Kinnear (who as an actor can do no wrong) set in Victorian London. Come now. It’s every goth’s dream. It’s my number one no matter how many times I’ve watched it.

The Gift: Author RA Williams talks us through his top gothic horrors
Penny Dreadful is every goth’s dream!

Shirley Jackson’s The Haunting of Hill House is the quintessential haunted house story, but by no means the only one. Her We Have Always Lived in the Castle is equally brilliant. And terrifying. Edgar Allen Poe’s The Fall of the House of Usher rounds out my fiction choices.

Don’t Look Now, the 1973 film starring Donald Sutherland is a classic, eerie, creepy gothic horror film set in Venice that will cause you to never look at small children in red cloaks without suspicion. Also it doesn’t hurt that Warren Beatty, the boyfriend of Julie Christie at the time,  demand ‘that’ sex scene in the film with Donald Sutherland be cut out as it was rumoured there was nothing simulated about it.

The Gift: Author RA Williams talks us through his top gothic horrors
You may not look at small children in red cloaks the same way after watching Don’t Look Now

There is, however, one final film which for me is chilling from start to finish. And really, it’s not gothic, but truly horrifying as it is based on a true story. Or so they say. The original Amityville Horror with James Brolin and Margot Kidder scared me half to death in 1979 as a twelve-year-old. And it still does today. There is something about the 1970s. A creepy house. A son murdering his entire family and disembodied voices telling totally stupid people to: ‘Get out!’ It just terrifies me. Watch it alone if you dare.

There you have it. My choices. I actually watched every one of these again during pandemic, as well as reading The Hunger for umpteenth time. Simply brilliant.

The Gift, Book 1: Eleanor is the first in The Gift trilogy and out now from Whitefox.