But What is Dreadpunk Anyway? - Taverna da Ilsa

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But What is Dreadpunk Anyway?

Ariane Cabral de Melo | 13 January, 2022

Once upon a time, in a world of mystery and darkness, gothic literature went for a walk and found Steampunk on a cold and foggy night. It was love at first sight. They got to know each other, and soon, their minor child was born: Dreadpunk.

Dreadpunk was born in an event in Atlanta, USA, called Dragon Con by Derek Tatum. Tatum explains that he created Dreadpunk to describe contemporary Gothic production and horror productions inspired by this Victorian setting and works of Dark Fantasy and Thrillers that use aesthetics from the past.

In the same way that Steampunk can be understood as modern Science Fiction seen through the eyes of the 19th, Dreadpunk can be seen as the contemporary sensibility, in several aspects, seen through the eyes of Gothic and Horror.

Based on the current productions in Literature, Cinema, Games, and TV series, the propagators, the defenders of Dreadpunk, point out three rules, or three basic laws, which define, which help to understand the terms, the limits of Dread Punk:

  1. Dreadpunk is based on Horror or Dark Fantasy, with a particular emphasis on the word dread.
  2. Dreadpunk is set in or influenced by an aesthetic from the last decades of the 19th century, i.e., Victorian broad or still the first decades of the 20th century, usually up to the limits of when Lovecraft was alive, i.e., around the late 1930s.
  3. Dreadpunk is aware of a particular element of parody in its structure; Simultaneously, it pays its homage to this tradition of Horror and Gothic of the late 19th century; it also subverts this very tradition.

    And considering that, what would punk read from there, Dreadpunk? For Dreadpunk writer Cherie Priest, Punk is here and synonymous with transgression. Transgression is challenging the dominant paradigms of what scares you and challenging the dominant paradigms of those who hold power.


    Dreadpunk can always carry; it needs to have an element of contemplation of contemporary issues, contemporary issues. At this point, the Penny Dreadful series is pointed out as one of the leading examples of Dreadpunk in the sense of the representation of the character Vanessa Ives, played by actress Eva Green. Remembering that the character Vanessa Ives was not based on a character from Victorian literature, like the others, and for this very reason. She can be a vehicle for the situation of women themselves and even more so for women's empowerment within the context of the Victorian Era in which women are not seen as such, but only as mothers and wives. We can also point out that Amazon Prime's Carnival Row, which is set in this Victorian topic, has elements of Fantasy and touches on issues linked to today, such as the place of the other, migratory flows, and the prejudice itself relation to differences, among different themes. Another work, Dreadpunk, shows that this expression of punk does not necessarily need to be set in the late 19th or early 20th century. But that, as pointed out in the first rule, it needs to suffer under this same influence, we will see in the series Sleepy Hollow, which, although it is set in the present day, it carries elements referring to the 19th century. Another example, in this respect, are 2012's The Woman in Black and 2015's Crimson Peak, directed by Guillermo Del Toro.

    As another Gothic Fantasy writer Leanna Renee Hieber points out, Dreadpunk recognizes its roots in 19th century Gothic and Gothic Horror. In that respect, Dreadpunk writers acknowledge that Universal's classic monsters and Tim Burton's movies are examples of Dreadpunk. As for movies, books, and games, which fall under this perspective of Dreadpunk, according to its creators, having the novel and movie Abraham Lincoln, the vampire hunter, or book Anno Dracula by Kim Newman, the movie Dracula (by Bram Stoker) from 1992, the web series Carmilla, several others.

    And as the big Dreadunk fans that we are, we hope there will be many more stories to come.


    The original content you can find on the Fantasticursos YouTube channel.

    Taverna da Ilsa uses the material with the permission of Prof. Alexander Meireles da Silva, creator of the channel and its content.