Out now in Canada, Paolo Sorrentino’s seriously odd This Must Be The Place follows the adventures of retired rockstar Cheyenne (Sean Penn), who is clearly based on The Cure’s singer Robert Smith. Unruly of hair, pale of face, and sad of mood, Cheyenne is pretty much your ultimate goth (we’re referring to the subculture that kicked off in the early 80s, by the way, not these guys). Our glum chums have a rich cinematic history, so in honour of Cheyenne, we’ve donned our lipstick and fishnets, turned up our Sisters of Mercy LP, and picked our favourite filmic goths.
1. Brandon Lee as Eric Draven in The Crow (Alex Proyas, 1994)
Replete with white face-cake, black-streaked eyes and tumbling noir locks, Brandon Lee cut a real swathe as the deathly avenger Eric Draven in this adaptation of James O’Barr’s graphic novel. Tragically, and with a bitter irony given the film’s subject matter, Lee was accidentally killed on-set in 1993.
2. Fairuza Balk as Nancy Downs in The Craft (Andrew Fleming, 1996)
Raging hormones and mystical powers were the order of the day in this moody (and admit it, pretty ace) mid-90‘s high-school witchcraft horror. The intense Balk was the standout as black-clad Nancy. Negative energy never looked so good.
3. Isabelle Adjani as Héléna in Subway (Luc Besson, 1985)
When gothic gloom met Gallic flair back in the mid-80s... it looked pretty damn good. The beautiful Adjani played Héléna, the bored trophy wife of a gangster who got involved with the mysterious (and not very Gothically-named) Fred, played by future Highlander Christopher Lambert.
4. Ally Sheedy as Allison Reynolds in The Breakfast Club (John Hughes, 1985)
The epitome of teen moodiness, Sheedy nailed the era’s sulky style in Hughes’ classic 80s coming-of-age drama. With the requisite black clothes/bouffant combo, Allison set the hearts of serious young boys fluttering the world over.
5. Winona Ryder as Lydia Deetz in Beetlejuice (Tim Burton, 1988)
It’s Tim Burton again. The director is one of goth’s foremost representatives in pop culture, and in Beetlejuice he delivered a brilliantly dark fable. One of its most memorable characters is Ryder’s Lydia; a moody, angst-ridden teen with a taste for the supernatural and some great costumes.
6. Christina Ricci as Wednesday Addams in Addams Family Values (Barry Sonnenfeld, 1991)
Say hello to the youngest goth on our list. The always-slightly-otherworldly Christina Ricci was perfectly cast as the surly daughter of the comically monstrous clan. She shone darkly in the 1993 sequel Addams Family Values, too.
7. Everyone in Ken Russell’s Gothic (1985)
Who better than madcap (and sadly late) Brit director Russell to tell the (fictionalized) tale of the Shelleys' meeting in spooky Lake Geneva which ultimately led to Mary Shelley's writing ‘Frankenstein’. The film, like the acting (from the likes of Gabriel Byrne and Julian Sands), was all over the place, but this was an 80s Goth high point.
8. Johnny Depp as Edward Scissorhands in Edward Scissorhands (Tim Burton, 1990)
The result of an daring unfinished experiment by an eccentric scientist (but, really, was it ever going to end well?), poor Eddie was another to be inspired by the doleful aesthetic of The Cure’s Robert Smith. This modern-day fairytale remains Tim Burton’s most complete, affecting picture.
9. James Duval and Rose McGowan as Jordan White and Amy Blue in The Doom Generation (Gregg Araki, 1995)
When Goth met the New Queer Cinema movement, the results were mad, bad, and dangerous to behold. Gregg Araki’s nihilistic film told the bloody tale of two teenagers and a 21-year old drifter who embark on a murderous ménage à trois. Black hair. Black sunglasses. Black hearts.
10. Theda Bara in various films, 1914-26
Bara, born Theodosia Burr Goodman, was a silent film star, and regarded as one of the first screen femme fatales. Known for her perma-dark eye shadow and moody stares, Bara was a serious influence on Goth style. In case all that wasn’t dark enough for you, her name was an anagram of “Arab Death”.
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