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may be why the series lodged itself so strongly in my memory. Muller’s approach makes for an uncomfortable fit with a Post- modern era in which we are en- couraged to perceive ourselves as savvy ironists who have “seen through” the tricks of narrative, and view all stories as empty col- lections of signifiers whose sole purpose is to perpetuate the domi- nant ideology. Postmodern irony is by definition incompatible with the Gothic genre, whose impact depends on the implicit under- standing that matters of genuine import, ideological struggles lo- cated at the very heart of our cul- ture, are being addressed. The Gothic is always concerned with conflicting definitions of Evil—is it something which has an objec- tive existence within nature, or a word we use to interpret (and re- ject as other) socially proscribed sexual energies? Gothic narratives tend to keep this question in abey- ance before finally settling on the former definition (it is possible to commit to the latter one only by stepping outside the Gothic, as George A. Romero does in MAR- TIN and Michael Reeves does in WITCHFINDER GENERAL), but the genre has allowed gay and female desire to be portrayed sym- pathetically in contexts where even acknowledging the existence of such things would otherwise have been literally unthinkable: Sheridan Le Fanu’s CARMILLA is one of literature’s most powerful celebra- tions of lesbianism, though it seems doubtful the author knew what a lesbian was.


With a handful of exceptions (Monte Hellman’s contribution to TRAPPED ASHES and, though it leans toward the conservative end of the spectrum, Hideo Nakata’s THE RING), the Gothic now ex- ists solely in terms of parody. SUPERNATURAL was among the last great examples of the tradition— Muller’s first-hand experience of


fascism surely heightened his un- derstanding of what repression could lead to—and its individual episodes respond remarkably well to the application of the above formula.


Episode 1, “Ghost of Venice” (48m 43s), was directed by Claude Whatham, and stars Robert Hardy as Adrian Gall, an actor obsessed with the idea that he was robbed while playing MACBETH in Venice some years earlier. Although his wife, Charlotte (Isabel Dean), claims that no such robbery oc- curred, Gall insists on revisiting Venice to recover his goods. There he encounters the local Prefect of Police (Lee Montague)—who has no recollection of the robbery ei- ther, but does remember Char- lotte being injured in a fall—and a mysterious woman named Leonora (Sinead Cusack), who may be a ghost. The sexual con- notations of Gall’s project are not exactly difficult to discern, his obsession with a robbery nobody else remembers suggesting a fear of impotence; Gall tells his wife that he has lost “the purse that I’ve cherished ever since you gave it to me on our wedding day.” If Gall has been depleted and re- duced, the women he encounters have been rejuvenated and doubled, with Leonora seeming not to have aged since their last encounter many years ago, and the same actress, Elizabeth Seal, appearing as both a friend of Charlotte’s and a prostitute. Episodes 2 and 3, “Countess Ilona” (48m 35s) and “The Were- wolf Reunion” (49m 35s), directed by Simon Langton, constitute the series’ only two-part story. The Countess Ilona (played by Muller’s wife, Billie Whitelaw) invites four former lovers who ill- treated her to a castle (located, according to part two’s recap, in Transylvania), where her lycan- thropic ex-husband carries out her revenge. Countess Ilona’s


initial appearance walking though a misty forest summons up memories of Lina Romay’s simi- larly named Countess Irina in Jess Franco’s FEMALE VAMPIRE (1973), while Angela Carter’s work is evoked by a scene in which the werewolf myth is linked to the tale of Little Red Riding Hood. That Gothic hesitation between the symbolic and the actual is particu- larly clear, one scene being dedi- cated to a discussion of the werewolf as a metaphor “for the disgusting cravings of some of the human race,” though the sexual nature of these “cravings” is in- terestingly displaced: it is a male werewolf who becomes the tool of female vengeance against patri- archal oppression. Curiously, both episodes have 1976 copyright dates. This, alongside the fact that the storyteller’s recap at the beginning of part two has been dubbed over a shot in which he is clearly saying something quite dif- ferent, would seem to indicate that this two-parter was shot much earlier than the other segments, and was perhaps intended as a feature-length pilot. Incidentally, the published novelization sug- gests an entirely different order for the series, beginning with “Dorabella” and ending with “Ghost of Venice.”


Episode 4, “Mr. Nightingale” (48m 57s), stars Jeremy Brett as the eponymous character, an eld- erly eccentric who recalls a time in his late youth when he stayed with a family in Germany and en-


countered his doppelgänger. There is never really any doubt that this secret sharer exists purely in Nightingale’s imagination, and Muller’s emphasis on the meta- phorical use of Gothic motifs is once again to the fore. The figure


of the doppelgänger is often as- sociated with both death and a humiliating loss of power (the classic example being Poe’s “Wil- liam Wilson”), Nightingale’s


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