Discovering the Macabre
Updated: Apr 25
This week I received some feedback on my dark-fantasy novel. My tutor informed me that my book might fit better amongst the Macabre-Fantasy genre, which was a genre I'd never heard of before so quickly Googled. A realisation hit me like a brick. I'd been watching Macabre-Fiction for YEARS and hadn't even noticed!
For those who don't know, Macabre in fiction tends to mean that the work has a grim or ghastly atmosphere and often focuses on details/symbols of death.
So, let me introduce you to a few of my favourite movies, TV shows and books and the macabre-ness they have in common:
THE CHILD IN ME:
Like most children I read every Roahl Dahl book I could get my hands on. I fell in love with Tim Burton movies, especially Coraline and James and the Giant Peach. I also remember watching two TV shows religiously...
The first being FUNNYBONES, which was a British children's comedy television series with only 12 short episodes. I absolutely loved this show and remember my dad singing the theme song to us as kids. It's idea centers about the adventures of three skeletons.
The second was a show that always gave me nightmares, but for some reason I couldn't stop watching it.
GRIZZLY TALES FOR GRUESOME KIDS was categorised as a children's horror for its kooky cautionary tales.
Looking back at some of the stop-motion animations, I still think there's pretty creepy, but the stories always hooked me in and kept me coming back for more.
I also found this article online that specifically called Grizzly Tales a 'gentle macabre' which I couldn't agree with more.
Read that article here: The 6 Sickest Episodes of Grizzly Tales for Gruesome Kids (comingsoon.net)
LETS TALK DISNEY:
Some of my favourite Disney/Pixar films also have a hint of the macabre...
COCO (2017) Coco is one of my all time favourite animated movies.
Made by Disney/Pixar, it's a story about a boy named Miguel who accidentally enters the Land of the Dead and bumps into his ancestors on the other side. There's pressure on Miguel to return to the land of the living, so he can put a photo on the family ofrenda but he can't return without learning some truths.
Tangled is a Disney Film that I absolutely adore, mainly for the character of Mother Gothel.
Not only does she have the best song in the movie, but she's also a very complex villain. Gothel kidnaps Rapunzel when the magical flowers become too hard to find and then she uses Rapunzel's magic to keep her young and beautiful. Her end see's her turning into skeletal remains as she's pushed out a window. The macabre comes from Gothel's need to cheat death and her sudden downfall.
THE PRINCESS AND THE FROG (2009)
In this movie, The Shadow Man or Doctor Facilier is yet another character who plays with the concept of Death. Facilier is a Witch Doctor who promises the Voodoo spirits the souls of the people of New Orleans. When he doesn't succeed, the Voodoo demons drag Facilier and his shadow down into the spirit world.
And finally, there's Hades from Hercules and his Sea of Souls. The images surrounding this text say it all. Hades collects souls for the River Styx and finds himself amongst them in his end. Hades doesn't rule the Underworld entirely, for the River Styx threatens to drag him down a number of times, giving the Sea of Souls the leading power.
Whenever I'm asked for a TV Series recommendation, I always say PUSHING DAISIES.
The name alone is a nod to the macabre for it's meaning comes from the phrase 'Pushing up Daisies', meaning to be dead and buried.
This show is about a piemaker called Ned who has the ability to bring dead things back to life for 60 seconds. Any longer than a minute and something else has to die in its place. His abilities are abused by a private investigator, who gets Ned to bring murder victims back to life for a minute so they can find out the perpetrator and claim the reward. Things take a turn, however, when Ned comes face to face with his childhood sweetheart, lying dead in a casket.
There are so many more TV shows and films that have stuck with me over the years, but these were the first ones to pop into my head.
Along with TV and film, I love reading gothic-fiction and horror novels. Laura Purcell, Bridget Collins, Jessie Burton, Erin Morgenstern and Sarah Perry are writers who's books I tend to grab without reading the blurb. Each has a hint of the macabre within their tales,
I'll be doing more research into this genre/topic as I continue to write my novel.
Coming soon I'll be writing a post on Bram Stoker's DRACULA and my thoughts on the novel as well as the various movie/tv adaptations that have followed. I'll also be doing a post about The Addams Family from comic to present day works.
Thanks for reading and stay spooky!