The great Goth infusion came with the publication of Anne Rice's novel Interview with the Vampire in 1977, followed by its sequel The Vampire Lestat a few years later. Mix those bloody erotics with the rise of punk music, and you have a nice Goth brew percolating across the globe. Musically, the "Goth" term began in 1981 when Anthony Wilson, manager of Joy Division, described the band as "Gothic compared with the pop mainstream." The interview was seen on a British Broadcasting Commission TV program, and the rest is pop history. Of course, the band's lead singer Ian Curtis had to go and hang himself, adding an entirely new dimension to the Goth badge.
I have always been a great Rice fan, and even loved the film version of Interview With the Vampire starring Tom Cruise and Brad Pitt. One of my favorite scenes from the brooding epic was the Theatre des Vampires performance.
For those unacquainted, Pitt and Kirsten Dunst, as Louis and Claudia respectively, travel to Paris in search of other vampires. They stumble across a rather hateful coven that performs nightly to sophisticated crowds with a taste for the bizarre. This specific Theatre des Vampires performance includes a nude blond woman being drained to death by robed vampires (I love plays that have nude blond women being drained to death by robed vampires). It's a great scene, all the more so because the Theatre des Vampires actually existed.
Called The Theatre du Grand-Guignol, this macabre performance hall opened its doors in 1897 to interested Parisians. The "house of horrors" became a huge attraction in Paris for over 60 years. Each night, performances displayed murder, rape, torture, adultery and thievery. The messy special effects of eye-gougings, beheadings and scalpings came courtesy of a friendly neighborhood butcher providing fresh animal parts and lots of blood. Unlike the Theatre des Vampires of Rice's novel, or even the popular urban myth about the actual Grand-Guignol, the murders created on stage were fake.
I suppose this little detour is to serve a point. Between 1897 and 1962 when The Grand Guignol was open, people flocked nightly to see any number of tortures and maimings. Whether we like to admit it or not, humans have a taste for sex, horror, blood and yes, even rock & roll. Today we can find such taste in the form of Friday the 13th films. We could insert other horror/slasher epics including Halloween, Dawn of the Dead or Last House on the Left, films which have disturbed many due to their perversion and violence. Italian horror maestro Lucio Fulci gave us an interesting scene in the 1983 film City of the Living Dead when a woman literally pukes her intestines onto a sidewalk. The actress actually swallowed sheep intestines purchased from a butcher (sound familiar?), and then threw up on camera. I'm sure the Grand Guignol's director would have died for such an unforgettable effect. Just bring a bottle of champagne and a couple of glasses (as attendees did back in the day), and it's a great first date. Paris - it's a hell of a town.