One of the fringe benefits of this year’s Shriekfest is that it led to my discovering the website DarkRomance.Com, which has a table set up at the festival and is relying live coverage of the event online.
It’s an ultra-cool website that claims to be “an invocation of the sensually gothic.” With a black-and-white look and lots of goth fashion and corsets, it certainly succeeds. To some extent, the women who populate the pages are like leather-bound versions of Trekkies (they seem to take their role-laying persona too seriously), but they definitely have the fashion sense to pull it off.
You will find reviews of movies, literature, and music; listings of clubs like Bar Sinister and Malediction; news coverage of events like “Bat Day” (when thousands of Goths, punks and death-rockers descend upon Disneyland); a message forum; a store with exclusive merchandise (Dark Romance t-shirts and mugs); and lots of links to other similarly themed-sites. Obviously, there is a certain emphasis on horror, but the coverage extends to other topics of a dark, gloomy, or romantic nature.
I do have to note one striking irony, however. The website’s “Manifesto” defines “dark romance” with terms such as “melancholy in tone,” “possessing depth and richness,” “shrouded in mystery,” “strangely beautiful.” Yet little of these qualities was on display in the films screened this weekend, which – along with suspense and horror – tended to emphasize gore, shock, and disgust – sometimes to tongue-in-cheek effects but just as often to simply turn your stomach. I can enjoy gratuitous cinematic violence as well as the next person, but it would be nice to see a few films that hew closer to the qualities emphasized at Dark Romance.