On the eleventh episode of Daughters of Darkness, Kat and Samm dive into another American Gothic-themed double feature, this time examining neglected ‘80s films Superstition (1982) and Eyes of Fire (1983). They begin with an in depth discussion of Calvinist Gothic literature from eighteenth century England to pre-Revolutionary America, including works like Matthew Lewis’s The Monk, Charles Brockden Brown’s Wieland, James Hogg’s The Private Memoirs and Confessions of a Justified Sinner, and the fiction of Nathaniel Hawthorne, particularly The Scarlet Letter. This is also connected to a discussion of witchcraft, social hysteria, and the persecution of women in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries.
These themes can be found in the eerie, little seen Eyes of Fire, Avery Crounse’s film about a small religious enclave exiled from their community in colonial America. They find their way to a strange valley that the local Shawnee tribes avoid and decide to make the place their home, but they are soon under siege, perhaps by the forest itself… Seemingly an obvious influence on The Witch (2015), this unsettling film is worlds away from the campy but incredibly fun Superstition, from director James W. Roberson, where a family moves into a strange house in New England that turns out to be possessed by a witch with a craving for Satanic vengeance. Essentially following the slasher format, it has everything from a priest killed by a circular saw, an attempted exorcism, an eighteenth century witch trial, some bitchy teenagers, and more.
Kat and Samm give a shout out to Travis Crawford’s essay for Fandor on Homo Sapiens, Samm’s new Ken Russell series over at Diabolique, and Arrow Films Three Films by Paolo & Vittorio Taviani [Padre Padrone, The Night of the Shooting Stars, Kaos]
Reading from Matthew Lewis’ The Monk courtesy of public domain Librivox recording of the text read by James K White.
Reading from Nathaniel Hawthorne’s The Scarlett Letter courtesy of public domain Librivox recording of the text read by Corri Sanders.