SNARK WEEK: Every Century Gone Goth


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As the resident goth here at Frock Flicks HQ, I’m taking it upon myself during this Snark Week to point out how gothic fashion fits perfectly well in every period of time and specifically in every possible era of historical costume movie and TV show. That’s right, you can never go too dark or none more black! Forget the silly white dresses and prissy pastels, it’s all about blood red, deep purple, pitch black, dyed hair, and kohl liner, baby.


Ancient Times Gone Goth

Before the Goths sacked Rome, the ancients got their goth on. Egyptians have always known a thing or two about eyeliner, of course, and fashionable B.C. ladies didn’t just wear white (all those marbles were painted up, y’know).


Because Helen of Troy (2003) definitely needed a 1940s-style hair snood to launch 1,000 ships.


Noooooo! Decent sunblock won’t be invented for 2,000 years! (Legend of Hercules, 2014)


Oh honey, your roots are showing. (Rome, 2005)


The High Gothic Middle Ages

AKA the really Dark Ages! Sure, there’s gothic architecture, but we’re talking clothes too.


Bitchface & bangs in 9th-century pre-Christian Poland. (Army of Valhalla, 2003)


Girl on the far left is too cool for your courtly BS. (Le Rois Maudits, 2005)


Goddamn creatures of the night. They never learn. (Red Riding Hood, 2001)


Renaissance Goths

How weary, stale, flat and unprofitable, seem to me all the uses of this world! — Hamlet was so frickin’ gothic it hurts. But he’s not the only one. The 16th century was when “melancholy” first became a trendy malady of the affluent young types.


Just back from Hot Topic at the court of Suleiman the Magnificent c. 1520. (Muhtesem Yuzyil, 2011)


Look, da Vinci, you can keep your Abney Park CDs, steampunk is so lame. I’m going to the Skinny Puppy concert with Lenny Medici. He understands the darkness within me. (Da Vinci’s Demons, 2013)


What’s your safeword? (Day of Wrath, 2005)


Gothic in 17th Century

The era that movies forgot … or at least seem to think is the spookiest and most gothic of them all. The 17th century is full of witches, wizards, marauders, and madmen, all dressed in decadent awesomeness.

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Are the spikes too much? Not enough? I can never tell. (The Lady of Csejte, 2015)


He tried to bum a clove. Now he’s my bitch. (The Girl King, 2015)

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Goths in Trees, circa 1640. (The Musketeers, 2011)


When you’re Lucy Lawless, you can wear a purple furry stole in 17th-c. Salem, Massachusetts (2014).


I don’t care how many times you’ve seen NIN, if you step on my foot one more time in this mosh pit, so help me, I’m ripping out your ‘nads. (Salem, 2014)


The Gothic 18th Century

People think the Age of Enlightenment was all pastels and light frippery, but these dark decadent hotties can dance “catch the bat, release the bat” better than a minuet.


Tune in. Turn on. Burn out in the acid rain. (Sleepy Hollow, 1999)


So hardcore, she won’t chafe. (The Brotherhood of the Wolf, 2001)


Who needs a corset when we can see the boning right through your dress? (Plunkett & Macleane, 1999)


Black lipstick with white FTW! (Casanova, 1987)


Isn’t It Byronic – Gothic Romance

The origin of all gothic poetry and gothic novels, it’s the early 19th century, the time of Byron and Shelley and the Bronte Sisters.


I’m a homicidal maniac, they look just like everyone else. (The Count of Monte Cristo, 2002)


No-one understands me & my stringy hair like you do. (The Devil’s Violinist, 2013)


Life is not all lovely thorns and singing vultures, you know. (La Certosa di Parma, 2012)


Gothic Victorian Uber Alles!

And here’s where it gets good. Or bad. Or something. Even today, most goths are trying for a Victorian look, with varying degrees of success.


I was happy in the haze of a drunken hour, but heaven knows I’m miserable now. (Madame Bovary, 1991)


Pouty long-haired boy = gothic wet dream. (Madame Bovary, 2014)


Corsets as outerwear, totally a thing in the Old West. (Deadwood, 2004)


The pale look is always in. (Deadwood, 2004)

WARNING This image may only be used for publicity purposes in connection with the broadcast of the programme as licensed by BBC Worldwide Ltd & must carry the shown copyright legend. It may not be used for any commercial purpose without a licence from the BBC. © BBC 2009

We’re so pretty … pretty vacant … (Desperate Romantics, 2009)


Who stone my black lipstick? (The Crimson Petal and the White, 2011)


Every goth girl loves a teeny-tiny hat bought on Etsy. (Affinity, 2008)


I’m all ready for Whitby Gothic Weekend, peeps. (Ripper Street, 2012)

John Cusack stars in Relativity Media's stylish gothic thriller The Raven.

John Cusack as Edgar Allen Poe – we approve! (The Raven, 2012)


Sleeves are for poseurs. (Penny Dreadful, 2015)


Pimp daddy Dorian Grey is gonna get you fucked up on absinthe. (Penny Dreadful, 2015)


Step on my train, and I’ll cut a bitch. (Crimson Peak, 2015)


I’ll wear black until they find a darker color. (Crimson Peak, 2015)


Early 20th-Century Goth

Finally with Bauhaus and Siouxie and the Banshees a mere 50 years away, gothic fashion becomes mainstream. Sort of.


Gothic sexy stripper more than 1920s showgirl. (Chicago, 2002)

Bob Mackie costumes

Babs channels The Crow, or something, in this supposed 1930s ensemble. (Funny Lady, 1975)


Are you committed to the gothic subculture, despite historical inaccuracies? How far will you go?



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20 Responses

  1. Lady Hermina De Pagan

    Oh, but you did not include the gothic eye candy that was Mina Harker’s, “Vampire Bride” gown in Bram Stoker’s Dracula. That dress was the stuff of my Kindergoth dreams.

    • Trystan L. Bass

      I know! I debated, but I used the Crimson Peak dress bec. it’s newer & less seen — didn’t want 2 red late Victorian gowns. SO much to choose from :)

  2. Sarah F

    Despite the shady accuracy, I want every single thing Monica Bellucci wears in Brotherhood Of The Wolf. Every. Single. Thing.

  3. Michael McQuown

    You had to have dug in some pretty obscure places to unearth some of those nuggets. For me “Salem” was a mixed bag, because I enjoyed the story, but as a 17th-century reenactor, it was sometimes like nails on a blackboard.

    • Lady Hermina De Pagan

      Michael, I totally understand. I am also a reenactor in both the SCA and in the historical pirate community. I also live on Long Island, so every time I see the hot mess that is TURN I want to scream and throw things at my TV. Between the heaving cleavage, lack of pine trees in the pine barrens, and playing fast and loose with the actual story of Abraham Woodhull I just cannot contain myself.

      • Michael McQuown

        SCA — been there, done that back in the day when kings could be convicted murderers. Can you imagine the angst in the BAR? Montgomery made Salem for me; she so obviously relished the part.

    • Trystan L. Bass

      Salem makes my teeth itch — I love the costumes from a goth aesthetic but historically they’re wack. The story & acting are sometimes gloriously campy but not consistently so. Lucy Lawless was a great addition, but I can’t stand any of the male actors.

  4. Charity

    I will never un-see the purple stole. OMG. My eyes, they hurt.

    I actually think the Goth thing works for “Crimson Peak.” It’s a strange movie, but pretty to look at.

  5. Richard Stephens

    Alan Rickman as the Sheriff of Nottingham in Prince of Thieves – Black Leather and Black Fur, grommets and multiple belts – it was so Hot Topic but Alan sold it and made us love him even though he was the bad guy. Gothic Camp for the Win!

  6. Parasewia

    Girl from 9 century Poland – it’s “Stara Baśń” – “The Old Fairytale” – łosie adaptation of 19 century novel by Kraszewski