Popular Culture Review 29.1 (Spring 2018) - Page 101

of Gothic proportions.   In fact, several of these dramas—The Fall from Ireland, The Break from Belgium, Bordertown from Finland, Trapped from Iceland, and Luther from England among them—contain episodes that are clearly intended to awaken in the viewer that level of terror once considered the sole domain of Gothic horror. Of these, Luther may be the most significant. Series’ writer Neil Cross has effectively captured, in both Luther the novel and Luther the TV series, a level of cultural anxiety that has traditionally found expression in both Gothic literature and cinematic horror and that has moved readers, and now viewers, to seek in these writers’ works a psychological and spiritual refuge from terror-inducing events of the real world. It is this cultural anxiety that Cross touches upon through London detective John Luther’s encounters with deranged killers, the series’ monsters, who often lurk in the shadows of old condemned buildings in the seedier parts of London. Indeed, the success of the Luther TV series depends upon the skillful use of elements associated with traditional Gothic and contemporary horror.   The Story BBC’s four-series crime drama (2010-2015) holds viewers’ attention with Luther’s seemingly endless encounters with sociopathic killers, counterparts of the monsters of traditional gothic horror. Judith B. Weist, authority on media and culture, addresses society’s enduring fascination with monsters that take the form of killers who fail to repress their bestial, demonic, and psychotic impulses behind the mask of civilized humanity: Monsters in various forms have held a place in every culture throughout history… and they have figured prominently into Western film and literature for centuries…. These monsters take many forms, from demons, ghouls, and evil spirits; to vampires, werewolves, witches, and zombies; to mythic creatures such as Big Foot, the Abominable Snowman, the Mummy, Godzilla, and the Loch Ness Monster. But, despite differences in form and period of popularity, the representations of various “cultural monsters” have remained relatively consistent, including elements of insanity or possession, depravity, and wickedness. These monsters frequently take human form but are depicted with animalistic characteristics—emotionally void, predatory, and savage. They live on through cultural stories (fiction and nonfiction) and reinforce cultural values, beliefs, and norms…. More than that, stories about monsters are linked to social, political, and economic factors…. (330) 101