The Groovy Gothic (Argentina)

Let’s face it.  The Curious Dr. Humpp and Blood of the Virgins are about sex.  Rampant libidos have a grip on everyone, from the gothic monsters and mad scientists to the groovy youth culture.  In this blog post, we will consider how representations of sex differ between antagonists and protagonists.  What is implied by these differences?  My ultimate question is: Is the gothic “groovy” in these films, or is it just, well, gothic.


36 thoughts on “The Groovy Gothic (Argentina)

  1. Sex in both of these films by Emilio Vieyra is ultimately represented dominantly by the Id that Freud theorizes regardless of whether the characters are considered protagonists or antagonists. To attempt and segregate the difference between how sex is represented between these two groups of characters is doable however it is drowned out by the fact that sex is represented simply due to the animalistic desire of the Id. This implies the overarching power and fascination that sex has on people, both with the characters in the film and the audience. This also then allows a more groovy approach to the gothic in these films as it incorporates sex, a lot of it, with the suspense and horror as the overall motif of these two films.

    • The most intriguing thing about the sex depicted in these two particular films is that it occurs between the protagonists, or the seemingly innocent victims rather than the antagonist and the victims. While it is unclear in Blood of the Virgins if Gustavo did more than just feed off of the girls, it is not actually shown the way other sexual relations are. Gustavo also does not force, or it does not show him forcing Ofelia herself into having sex with him, and he does not exact revenge on the two men she willingly has sex with. In the Curious Dr. Hump, he himself never engages in any promiscuous sexual acts, but instead observes them in the way a scientist does in order to study them. Both films feature young, and consenting couples going absolutely wild and reverting back to their primitive desires and attitudes, for these reasons I can not help but think that these films are really groovy, rather than just Gothic.

  2. In these two films, sex is a prominent action. In The Curious Dr. Humpp, the mad scientist is almost forcing the protagonists to have sex and watching all of the other couples, who were additions to the film. In Blood of the Virgins, Gustavo is interfering rather than just observing and he stops Ofelia from having sex by stabbing her husband. Sex is being used by the antagonists for their own benefit; for health and experimental reasons by Dr. Humpp and for personal reasons by Ofelia so that she can escape her eternal damnation. By incorporating so much sex into these movies, I think it makes them groovy rather than just horror and gothic.

  3. I feel that Blood of the Virgins fits the idea of the “groovy gothic” more than The Curious Dr. Humpp. With its technicolor vibrancy and 60’s aesthetic, it better fits the “groovy” stereotype. However, I also think that the acceptance of sexuality in the Argentinian cinema can be considered “groovy,” therefore appealing to The Curious Dr. Humpp. The scene I considered the most a part of the “groovy gothic” in this film is the beginning orgy scene, especially taking into consideration the man smoking (presumably) pot, fitting the “groovy” vibe. I believe that in these films, you cannot have the gothic without the groovy.

  4. While both films incorporate elements of the Gothic genre taken from the traditional horror film, there are different ways these films both fall under the Groovy Gothic genre. In “The Curious Dr. Humpp” we see clearly a more modern approach to sex being incorporated into film. We also see a mad scientist figure, which is much more modern than some of the traditional Dracula and Frankenstein models, although he serves as more of a transition zone between the Gothic monsters and modern science. As for “Blood of the Virgins” there is a clear clash of the “groovy” 60s youth culture as well as the traditional vampire. I would argue that both films could be considered under the Groovy Gothic genre because of how they focus less on criminalizing the youth culture and more on contrasting them with more traditional figures.

  5. I think that the use of an overabundance of sex in these two Emilio Vieyra movies are what makes the gothic monster films “groovy.” In my opinion, “Blood of the Virgins” fits into the “groovy” theme more seamlessly than “The Curious Dr. Hump”. “Blood of the Virgins’” bright culture and depictions of the swinging youth culture of the time put that film over the edge. That being said, the type of monsters and/or mad scientists used in “The Curious Dr. Hump” were much more modern for the 60s with its fascination with sex than the vampires in “Blood of the Virgins.”

  6. I think that The Curious Dr. Humpp and Blood of the Virgins are both examples of films where the gothic is “groovy.” By taking the tradition of the gothic and infusing it with the new attitudes towards sex held by those involved in 1960s’ counterculture, these films use the contrast between old and new to promote youth culture. This is also reflected in the different representations of sex between antagonists and protagonists; the antagonists (Dr. Humpp, Gustavo) are shown watching sex, while the protagonists are shown having sex. This represents the older generation being fascinated and desiring the sexual liberation of the younger generation.

  7. Both of Emilio Vieyra’s films incorporate sex to the extreme, to the point where it seems like extra. However, when the films were made in the 60s, Argentina was going through the new generation rebelling against the older generation. As many of the above commenters have stated, the protagonists are seen having sex while the antagonists are shown watching. If we take away the context of the plots, the antagonists seem either envious or over-protective (in a good or bad way). I believe that this influences the younger generation that the gothic is in fact “groovy” because it’s something the older generation couldn’t have. There is an over abundance of these films because sex was “groovy” and more widely accepted, fueling the fire of the 60’s counterculture.

  8. Although I must admit that the “groovy gothic” still confuses me a bit I ultimately agree with some of the other posts on how Blood of the Virgins fit the groovy gothic more than Curious Dr. Humpp. As sex is a central theme in both of them nothing about Curious Dr. Humpp is necessarily groovy or gothic, it’s attempt at being artsy with it’s lack of speech and all black and white brings it into camp territory, however after watching the doctumentary with the director Emilio Vieyra he knew he was making a cheap horror film so it falls outside the realm of Camp. Meanwhile the Blood of the Virgins is more in groovy gothic territory from what I gather. It’s vibrant use of technicolor as well as the 20 minute montage of the teenagers in the 60’s enjoying life and being well “groovy” finds itself into the groovy category. While Vampire films are traditionaly gothic, it seems that the mix between vampire and technicolor that Blood of the virgins has, places it firmly into “groovy gothic”, if there even is such a thing.

  9. In both The Blood of the Virgins and The Curious Dr. Humpp, sex is the subject of a majority of screentime. However, sex and its depiction changes with who is partaking. The protagonists are shown living hedonistically with no cares but drugs and sex, and the antagonists are shown watching and in some cases murdering or abducting protagonists. It seems that the more pleasureable side of sex is only achieved by the protagonists while the antagonists are doomed to watch from the shadows. In these movies, the gothic certainly seems “groovy” as all scenes of hedonistic fun enjoyed by the protagonists seems to be something most young people would be interested in.

  10. In both of Emilio Vieyra’s, we see the classic gothic themes of mad scientists and vampires setting out to achieve their own agendas. Both films do showcase an overabundance of sexual scenes in my opinion. However, at the time there was a new movement in Argentina towards counterculture and a type of liberation. In both films, protagonists are shown partaking in the sexual acts while antagonists watch from the side lines, perhaps representing how the youth are freer and enjoy themselves more. I would say, due to the heavy presence of sex in both films, they fit the “groovy gothic” genre rather than just a traditional, spooky gothic.

  11. I think both movies centering around sex attempt to explore sexuality within Argentina society in its entirety. The movies seem to take fascinated, inquisitive, and experimental attitudes towards sex and youth culture, attempting to show the the multifaceted nature of these countercultures movements. The films seem to embody a kind intense preoccupation with youth culture, specifically the way in which sexual traditions are being broken, and how the youth are channeling their energy in current times. The movies seem to have a subconscious obsession with new ideas of sexuality, paralleling the way in which sex seems to govern the way in which people think and act. The movies delve into fantasy as they explore excessive sexuality and come up with characters that defy sexual norms. In both movies, sex is depicted as destructive and painful, but also as a source of joy and life.

  12. There is no doubt that sex is central to the plot in both Blood of the Virgins and The Curious Dr. Humpp. In my opinion, the Blood of the Virgins fits “groovy gothic” more than The Curious Dr. Humpp because it is more psychedelic at times; sex can be seen as the drug during a lot of the film. With sex being portrayed as a drug, The Curious Dr. Humpp also fits the “groovy” idea seeing that there is no shortage of naked women and sex taking place. The scene that especially embodies the sex as a drug idea, thus making it “groovy” is the orgy scene with the man smoking.

  13. I think both of Vieyra’s films fall under the category of “Groovy Gothic”, they feature fairly classic “monsters” with new, “groovy” elements like drugs and sex. There is a huge variance in the way sex is treated in both movies. The beginning montage of sex scenes in The Curious Dr. Humpp, before the couples are taken to be used in Dr. Humpp’s experiment, the sex is sensual. Afterwards, when it is used for Dr. Humpp’s pleasure it is rough and forced, Dr. Humpp is a voyeur and his victims are unaware. In Blood of the Virgins there is never explicitly any sex between Gustavo and his victims while Ofelia seems to be longing for intimacy when she has sex with Raul and Laura’s Brother and the viewers sympathize with her. Each films can fall under multiple body genres, both of them mixing pornography and horror, while Ofelia’s storyline in Blood of the Virgins adds in elements of melodrama, sadness for what could have been her life had she not been involved with Gustavo. I think the mixing of genres qualifies both films as “Groovy Gothic”.

  14. I believe that both of these films should be considered “groovy gothic” as they incorporate traditional gothic monsters as well as swinging 60’s youth culture. While sex features rather heavily in both films, sex is viewed differently between the antagonists and protagonists. For the antagonists, sex is seen more as a means to an end. In The Curious Dr. Humpp, the titular Dr. Humpp needs his captives to remain sexually active so that he can drain them to prevent himself from turning into a monster. In Blood Of The Virgins, Ofelia sees sex as an escape from her vampirism while Gustavo is distant from the sex in the film altogether. As for the protagonists of both films, sex is casual and fun. This is best demonstrated through the montage scene in Blood Of The Virgins where it becomes evident that casual sex is a key part of the teenagers’ carefree and groovy lifestyle. Ultimately, the oversaturation of sex and emphasis on youth culture is what merges the gothic monsters and the groovy teenagers to become the “groovy gothic”.

  15. To start, it is quite evident in both films that culture also has a large part to do with such differences in these representations of sex; for example, “The Curious Dr. Humpp,” which otherwise does not have any specific sexual connotations within its name, is in its native tongue “La Venganza del sexo,” meaning something along the lines of “revenge of the sex.” I think that this original title better mirrors the hypersexual nature of the film within its associated culture, and in this case, there does not appear to be anything beyond just the Gothic. In contrast, however, Blood of the Virgins, with its incorporation of shifting to the “present-day” 60s with the young men and women in the lodge, attempts to make the film considered more “groovy gothic” and tie together generational gaps more adequately.

  16. In both The Curious Dr. Humpp and Blood of the Virgins sex is used by both the protagonist and antagonist. The antagonist use sex to control the protagonist and get what they want. While if the sex is between the protagonists then it’s a loving fun act. This shows that sex can be used in multiple ways. The Curious Dr. Humpp would just be gothic while Blood of the Virgins would be “groovy” gothic. This is because Blood of the Virgins has the sexual freedom that comes with the “groovy” time unlike The Curious Dr. Humpp which just uses sex to control people.

    • As many have already discussed, both of Emilio Vieyra’s films are sex packed. The films are fascinated with youth culture and sex. They take into account who the Argentinian youth are breaking traditions and challenging the way viewers think. “The Curious Dr. Humpp” is more psychedelic at times, while “Blood of The Virgins” contains a conflict between the youth culture and the traditional vampire. I believe both films can be described as “groovy gothic” because of the incorporation of horror, sex, and suspense.

  17. The antagonists or the Vampire was tricking the youth and sucking out their blood while having sex. They treated as if it was a disease. The protagonists or youth used sex as a way to be free or different from the old ways of you have to be married to have sex. The differences imply that the youth embraced this free life, and the vampire wanted to destroy life through sex. I do think it is “groovy” because youth is “groovy.” The gothic is fighting against the groovy and it looses. The groovy is new and the gothic is old.

  18. In both of Emilio Vieyra’s films, sex is an extremely prominent factor that both films are centered around. Each films contains a fascination and almost wide eyed wonder at the sexuality and carefree ideals of the youth culture. I think that in both “The Curious Dr. Hump” as well as “Blood of the Virgins” sex is used by both the antagonist and protagonist characters. The protagonists of each film seem to take part in the actual sex acts, such as actually having sex while the antagonists are seen watching these acts and not partaking. The addition of all the sex, whether form the protagonists perspective or the antagonist watching, separates these films form just being in the gothic genre. The shots of the youth culture and the overall fascination take part in adding to the “groovy” element of both of those Vieyra films. What makes these films so interesting to me is the fact that they fall under this “groovy gothic” category which is both sexy and scary.

  19. I agree with Kimberly’s point about how Blood of the Virgins fits more into the genre of groovy gothic than The Curious Dr. Humpp because in the former sex is portrayed as a more carefree act whereas in the latter it is used as a plot device to control characters. Blood of the Virgins is a stronger example of the groovy gothic because it portrays typical aspects of “groovy” culture through casual sex, drug use, and youthful music in technicolor video. The Curious Dr. Humpp, with it’s monochromatic medium and use of sex as an integral part of the plot, makes the film less rebellious and more serious.

  20. The role of sex in Vieyra’s films seems to permeate both the antagonists and protagonists, the difference between them is the consequences. In Blood of the Virgins sex seems to be a bit more tolerable than in The Curious Dr. Humpp. In The Curious Dr. Humpp sex is viewed as the fuel for an immoral madman, while sex in Blood of the Virgins is a bit more glamorous, though it still ends with the implications of immorality. Blood of the Virgins is much “groovier” than The Curious Dr. Humpp, as the twenty minute montage of young adults frolicking and displaying their sexuality definitely adds “groovy” vibes.

  21. I think both of the films make at least an attempt at being both “groovy” and gothic. The use of drugs, sex, as well as musical scores, fit in with the groovy stereotype of the 60’s but at times I feel like it is almost misunderstood. The sex used in both movies, while it does appear to be used freely by the protagonists, is used as a point of control by the antagonists of both films. Ultimately in the end it doesn’t seem to promote the “groovy” lifestyle, because while the main characters do triumph they turn to the typical outcome of marriage giving it more of a plain horror and “groovy-less” ending.

  22. Sex, the one true unifier of us all, is very prevalent in the films we have watched recently. The antagonists use it for its power and massive grip on the world, while the protagonists use it as a fun diversion. In “Blood of the Virgins”, sex is the main power at work in the film. In “The Curious Dr. Humpp” sex was portrayed as pure power with its ability to heal Dr. Humpp’s ailment. Sex in these movies has been the ultimate power, but it is also used for fun and relaxation which, along with the gothic tendencies has created the “groovy gothic” in these films.

  23. I feel as if both “Blood of the Virgins” and “The Curious Dr. Hump” have a distinct fascination with sex, much like the Brazilian exploitation films. The antagonists of the films all have a creepy sense of voyeurism whenever there is someone having sex, mainly the protagonist. The protagonist give off an easy-going vibe when it comes to sex. Both films revolve around how sex is care-free and more of something to do for fun. As far as these films being “groovy”, I believe that “Blood of the Virgins” exemplifies the lifestyle of the youth demographic back in the 60’s. There are scenes in that film that show the type of vibe they had back then. I also get the feeling that the portrayed culture of the youth isn’t just being shown, it’s being judged.

  24. Blood of the Virgins and The Curious Dr. Humpp both move away from the familiar horror genre this class has been focusing on, yet they still maintain some aspects that can be deemed horror-esque. The sexual components of both films contributes to the “groovy” concepts. Sex drives each plot forward respectively. The Curious Dr. Humpp relies on sex to further the plot. The madman forces the characters into sexual scenarios in order to study and manipulate the subjects. In this movie, sex has many more negative impacts than positive, making it much more “gothic” than “groovy”. In Blood of the Virgins, sex is much more “groovy”. Sex is shown as a fun activity and is associated with drug use and other reckless behavior. Both films display a sense of the “groovy gothic”, but the levels of each are imbalanced.

  25. The Curious Dr. Humpp and Blood of the Virgins are first and foremost about sex. The rampant sexuality in both movies is in time with the more experimental environment of the 60s while the monsters in both movies are a nod to the gothic. I do not think both, however fit into the title of “groovy gothic.” In The Curious Dr. Humpp the entire movie is in black and white and the characters, though some engaged in non-normative sexual relations, are being punished for their sexuality. Blood of the Virgins is shot in color with a lot of psychedelia, something that is certainly considered to be groovy, while the monster story line also makes it gothic.

  26. I think that both Blood of the Virgins and The Curious Dr. Humpp can be considered “groovy” gothic films though the Blood of the Virgins has more obvious gothic elements. For starters, the use of vampires is a gothic element because of what they represent, mostly of an older, traditional time. However, by using sex throughout the film, it puts a twist on the classic gothic genre. In The Curious Dr. Humpp, the use of sex and the voyeuristic aspect of the doctor towards his victims gives it the gothic element of horror without using a classic horror monster. However, the use of drugs gives the film the “groovy” vibe because that is what causes the victims to have sex.

  27. In both of these movies by Emilio Vieyra, the protagonists engage in sexual activity purely for enjoyment and are unrestrained by social conventions of decency. The antagonists contrast with these characters, using sexual activity to further their ulterior motive of world domination and immortality rather than pleasure. The implication of these differences is that the norms of previous generations restricted people in their time, pushing them to use the sexual freedom of the counterculture to attain an immortality that the sexual energy provides in this new age. The amount of unconventional and open sex in these movies, as enacted by the gothic characters, makes the gothic “groovy.”

  28. In both of these films, the antagonists harness the power of sex to victimize the protagonists. While it is much more blatant in “The Curious Dr Humpp”, and the sexuality of the protagonists isn’t condemned so to speak in “Blood of the Virgins”, it is a common theme. This trope of sex as a punishment and/or being punished for sex is antiquated and Gothic. That being said, the depiction of sex (and female pleasure in particular) isn’t wholly bad when you look past the endings that reinforce traditional morals. These films aim for groovy; they just don’t quite hit it.

  29. Both of these films fit the mold of the “groovy gothic.” The Blood of the Virgins has a groovy aesthetic in addition to the gratuitous amount of sex, and the strip-tease sequence in The Curious Dr. Hump is especially reminiscent of 1960s counterculture’s free love. Vampire lore is heavily steeped in sexual innuendo, and filmmakers have pushed that limit since the invention of film, but The Blood of the Virgins’ excess of sex at times overshadows the gothic elements. The new, sexually free generation triumphs over the gothic monsters, which puts these films in the “groovy gothic” genre.

  30. Sexuality in these films functions in a few different ways. In one way, it is used as a marketing strategy. It draws in a younger, more modern audience while incorporating the gothic elements that would appeal to the older audience, as well. It breaks away from what was previously allowed in cinema and offers a new type of film that blends sexploitation with horror. In another way, sexuality functions as a power device, seen mainly through the antagonists. “The Curious Dr. Humpp” very clearly exemplifies this: the mad scientist captures his various victims, forces them to engage sexually with one another, and uses their blood to achieve immortality (killing the victims in the process). In “Blood of the Virgins,” the characters of Ofelia, Laura, Beba, and Gloria are all victims of Gustavo’s sexual repression. Gustavo takes each of these characters with the intention of turning them into vampires. When he bites Ofelia, it is while she is in bed with her new husband (who Gustavo kills) and the other three girls are shown to be sexually charged youth. After Gustavo drains them of their blood, they are seen wearing white dresses, symbolically denoting them as the virgins mentioned in the title, as if he is saving them from their own sexual behavior. In a last way, sexuality also functions as a part of youth culture that is shown to be fascinating and fun. The various captives in “The Curious Dr. Humpp” and the six protagonists in “Blood of the Virgins” engage in sexual activity and drug use as a means of recreation. While the antagonists use their sexuality for nefarious means, the protagonists do not. The difference here implies the distance between generations and how far youth culture is from the traditional behavior that preceded them. It very much shows a fascination with youth culture and a growing acceptance of sexuality. The films combine the gothic elements of monsters and mad scientists with youth culture in order to make them “groovy gothics.” However, it seems to me that, especially when considering how sexuality is used as a power mechanism, the groovy elements are minimized by the gothic elements and serve more as a way of appealing to a younger audience than anything else.

  31. I think The Curious Dr. Humpp has less of a groovy gothic feel than Blood of the Virgins. It feels as if in the first film, Vieyra was exploring how to approach the “horror and sex” genre with less exploration of youth culture. He doesn’t necessarily patronize it, but he doesn’t glorify it. In Blood of the Virgins, I felt like it was much more of a view on the youth of the time in a more positive light. The cinematography of Blood of the Virgins also felt a lot more like groovy gothic to me. The cinematography was unique and aesthetically interesting (not necessarily pleasing) giving the gothic plot a more groovy feel.

  32. The two films of Vieyra, “Blood of the Virgins” (1967) and “The Curious Dr. Humpp” (1969) seem to me to depict the new freedoms and “groovy” of the ’60s indeed as a welcomed fresh new spirit in Argentine society, but at the same time the films express a kind of scepticism, or maybe even a criticism of the more hedonistic excesses of the “free love” movement among the youth. It’s not as if sex was invented by the ’60s, after all, but, with the rise of the contraceptive “pill” sex separated from procreation and the bourgeois expectations of marriage, sex for its own pleasurable sake, was the perhaps the “hedonistic” dimension that Vieyra had some playful doubts about, especially in Curious Dr. Humpp, which is a brilliant masterpiece of layered irony and and hilarious camp (preposterously ‘bad’ monster makeup, a throbbing brain in a vat). The focus on precious bodily fluids, and virginal blood, as things that are lamentably LOST perhaps expresses a note of conservatism in this Argentine director (who also played the police chief in “Blood of the Virgins”).

  33. While both “The Curious Dr. Humpp” and “The Blood of the Virgins” strongly feature elements of groovy Gothicism, the counterculture of the 1960s (sex, drugs, rock and roll, etc) doesn’t seem to be glorified or celebrated. Instead, all instances of sexuality and drug use are either punished or are implicit to the moral decay of a character. In Blood of the Virgins, the young people’s carefree actions could be construed as the impetus behind the rest of their misfortune in the film. This contradiction, a groovy aesthetic but with a slightly more “traditionalist” sense of cause and co sequence, could be due to the director’s place as an outsider to the 1960s counterculture or youth culture as a whole.

  34. In both of the films by Vieyra, sex is obviously a main theme. Oddly though, the most of the sexuality is directed between the protagonists rather than the antagonists. Both of the films very obviously represent the “groovy” gothic; however The Curious Dr. Humpp displays a little less of the “groovy” gothic. This could be because this was filmed before Blood of the Virgins and Vieyra was merely experimenting with the first film. Blood of the Virgins has the definite “groovy” gothic depiction.

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