Swimming Against the Stream

American Gothic Films: An Incomplete List

Addendum to The Original American Gothic Series

This is a list of films with American Gothic elements. Obviously there are a wide range of films here. Our basic criteria is that that the American Gothic Film is a dark take on America with special reference to traditional American images and activities. To understand the criteria for this list please read our original American Gothic series. Keeping in mind that American Gothic has little to do with ‘Goth’.

An American Gothic vision of history in Bruce Beresford’s stunning Black Robe

American Gothic History

Gone with the Wind

Grapes of Wrath

It’s a Wonderful Life

Miller’s Crossing

Moby Dick

Sleepy Hollow

Little Women

Black Robe

Last of the Mohicans

A strange little film that mixes Civil War Gothic and American Gothic Horror – Dead Birds

Civil War Gothic

Cold Mountain

Andersonville Trial


Ride with the Devil

Dead Birds

The Deer Hunter presents yet another extraordinarily dark vision of America

Vietnam & US Military Gothic

Apocalypse Now

The Deer Hunter

Hamburger Hill

Black Hawk Down

The Seven Faces Dr Lao is a curious blending of Carnival and Western Gothic based on Jack Finney’s American Gothic novel The Circus of Dr. Lao

Carnival Gothic


Nightmare Alley


The Seven Faces of Doctor Lao

Violent and Hallucinogenic Hippie Western Gothic Jodorowsky’s El Topo

Hippie Gothic

Easy Rider

Gimme Shelter

The Trip

El Topo

An older Lillian Gish in The Night of the Hunter

Southern Gothic


To Kill a Mockingbird

Wise Blood

The Apostle

Sling Blade

Cabin in the Cotton

Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil



Winter’s Bone

O Brother Where Art Thou


The Night of the Hunter

Spitfire Grill – A New England Gothic with a touch of Southern Gothic

New England Gothic


Ethan Frome

Beautiful Girls

A Simple Plan

Spitfire Grill

Storm of the Century

Dolores Claiborne

The Perfect Storm

Nobody’s Fool

Primal Noirish Sleazebag New York style American Gothic from the Apocalyptic Seventies. Robert De Niro in Martin Scorsese’s Taxi Driver

New York City Gothic

Taxi Driver

Stranger Than Paradise

Requiem for a Dream


Last Exit to Brooklyn


Bringing Out the Dead

Being John Malkovich – A New Jersey Suburban New York Pomo Gothic featuring Puppetry and a mood that shifts from comedy to increasing darkness.

New Jersey Gothic

Jersey Girl


Being John Malkovich

Garden State

Dead Man – Jim Jarmusch makes a Western Gothic with Johnny Depp

Western Gothic

The Man Who Shot Liberty Valence

Brigham City

The Wild Bunch


Treasure of the Sierra Madre

Tender Mercies

The Searchers


Dead Man

Jeremiah Johnson

An interesting example of Gringo made Latin American, or more specifically Mexican, Gothic the first Rodriguez / Tarantino version of From Dusk Til Dawn. It is also an American Gothic Vampire film and one of the few films north of the border to include Aztec imagery in its mix.

Latin American Gothic

Sante Sangre

Men with Guns

From Dusk Till Dawn

Narcotic Suburban Gothic in David Lynch’s Blue Velvet

Suburban Gothic


Twin Peaks


Jack Ketchum’s The Girl Next Door


Rebel Without a Cause

Promised Land

Blue Velvet


West Coast Gothic in a Classic Hitchcockian Mode with Kim Novak in Vertigo

West Coast Gothic

The Big Lebowski



Citizen Kane

Donnie Darko

Abraham Polonsky’s Dark Gothic Noir Force of Evil 1948

Gothic Noir

(See most Film Noir)

Sleaze Noir film 8mm takes Nicolas Cage through the underbelly of the porn world

Sleaze Gothic



(Taxi Driver could easily fit here as well)

Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho is not only a landmark in horror films and film in general it is also a milestone in American Gothic cinema

American Gothic Horror

Eaten Alive


The Birds

Blair Witch Project

Cabin Fever

Deadly Blessing

The Exorcism of Emily Rose

The Exorcist

Jeepers Creepers

Jeepers Creepers 2

The Texas Chain Saw Massacre one of the most crucial films in the American Gothic Canon

Homicidal Killer Gothic





Wrong Turn

Texas Chainsaw Massacre

The Penalty

Nightmare on Elm Street

Mother’s Day


Last House on the Left


The Hills Have Eyes

I Spit on Your Grave

Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer

American Perfekt

Kathryn Bigelow’s Near Dark from 1987. Vampires in a Radically American Gothic mode

American Gothic Vampires

Near Dark

The Last Man on Earth


An American Gothic Scene from The Walking Dead, complete with Horse and Cowboy

Zombie Films

Night of the Living Dead

Dawn of the Dead

The Walking Dead (series)

Harry Dean Stanton’s presence alone would justify calling Riddley Scott’s Alien an American Gothic Science Fiction film. But there is much more than that.

Science Fiction Gothic


Butterfly Effect

The Thing

The Book of Eli

The Road


Ghosts of Mars

Brother’s Keeper is America in full decay.

American Gothic Docs


Brother’s Keeper

Paradise Lost


Definitely American Gothic

(But hard to classify)

American Splendor

Kill Bill

The Village

A somewhat unclassifiable American Gothic Film – The Village

8 responses

  1. T Myers

    McCabe and Mrs Miller – Dread disguised as progress.

    February 1, 2013 at 6:55 PM

  2. Lucis

    Reflecting Skin, Mulholland Drive, Inland Empire

    January 24, 2014 at 1:06 AM

  3. strike2012

    I would even include _Edward Scissorhands_

    October 1, 2014 at 10:27 PM

  4. Betsy Heavens

    So many not listed Idk where to start. Lost Boys should be listed under west coast. Rosemary’s Baby is a gothic staple. No classic gothic horror mentioned. Nosferatu. Dracula. Horror of Dracula. Bram Stoker’s Dracula. All Tim Burton Films. Some would include Jaws and Scarface. I could go on and on.

    May 12, 2015 at 9:36 AM

  5. Betsy Heavens

    THE CROW shame!

    May 12, 2015 at 10:13 AM

  6. Hi Betsy, Thanks for the suggestions. Alas, this not a list of Goth or Gothic items. Rather this is for American Gothic films, which are a very different species from what we call Goth. Standard Goth, including The Crow, are all much more European in their emphasis, in their imagery. Even Rosemary’s baby has a very European patina to it (thanks to Roman Polanski). Tim Burton is also very European in his gothicisms.If I were simply doing Gothic films this list would indeed be voluminous. American Gothic and Gothic are very different from each other. For more of what I’m trying to get at read my American Gothic series. Then it will be clear that not only are the two styles different, they are actually nearly opposite of each other.

    May 12, 2015 at 10:26 AM

  7. Pingback: The Best Southern Gothic Movies Of All-Time - Cinema DailiesCinema Dailies

  8. And check out this excellent list of Southern Gothic films.

    July 15, 2018 at 7:56 AM

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s