Wednesday, October 13, 2010

1830's horror

Ah, October, when an old man's fancies turn towards horror films.

AMC has been running a series of classic Hammer Horror films every Friday this month (with more to come), and watching those great old Dracula movies made me think that there seems to be an untapped venue for horror gaming. Europe of the 1830's, particularly central and eastern Europe.

It's got a lot going for it. The Napoleonic Wars are less than two decades gone by, leaving a lot of veterans and the scars of war across the landscape. The classic Frankenstein takes place during the very period. Goethe's Dr. Faust is placed then and there. The real-life inspiration for the Hunchbank of Notre Dame lived during that time. The era predates Dracula by a few decades, but the Hammer tradition certainly doesn't make such distinctions, and that's certainly as valid a tradition to drawn from as any.

It's a time before Charles Darwin drove the stake into the corpse of medieval credulity. The American and French Revolutions have undermined the myth of the divine right of kings, but the stories of ghosts and spooks still hold sway in places removed from the salons of post-Enlightenment Paris.

And it has that classic Hammer aesthetic. Tall hats, greatcoats, standing collars and cravats... Womens' gowns show a bit of cleavage, hair styles are all elaborate curls, but powdered wigs are still to be found among the Old Nobility.

I think it's got a lot of potential, for the aesthetic if nothing else.