Updated: Jun 10
As a culture, the goth movement hit society in the late 70s/early 80s, developing from the post punk era with fashion influenced by Victorian morning dress. The New Romantics added a touch of flamboyancy, with makeup and accessories accentuating the style and bands such as Siouxsie and the Banshees, Bauhaus and The Cure increased it's popularity in youth culture.
But Hollywood was undoubtedly a major influence long before goth became mainstream.
The femme fatale of film noir created the vamp - an alluring mix of dark, dangerous and sexy with a bold and confident style.
Because the genre was filmed in black & white, the female lead's dark hair and clothing created a striking appearance against their Porcelain skin.
The smoldering eye makeup and ruby red lipstick added an extra darkness in black & white, and it was this viperous seductive look that influenced Characters such as Morticia Addams and the horror hostess Vampira.
To celebrate the dark, dangerous and desirable, paranormal pilgrim salute the top ten most gorgeous goths of TV and film!
10. Anjelica Huston – Morticia Addams
Former model and Oscar winning actress Anjelica Huston is the daughter of actor & director John Huston and former ballerina Enrica Soma. A confident performer, Huston’s onscreen elegance and allure shines through in the form of Morticia Addams in 1991’s Addams Family and the 1993 follow up, Addams Family Values.
Huston based her portrayal of Morticia on friend Jerry Hall and the sweet indulgence that she showed to her children. “I was trying to imagine Jerry bringing up the spawn of the devil, and how she’d still be indulgent, loving and understanding.”
A former fashion model, Huston is also a passionate activist against animal cruelty and has worked hard to raise awareness and force change within the entertainment industry, winning PETAs person of the year award for her efforts.
9. Yvonne De Carlo – Lilly Munster
Margaret Yvonne Middleton, better known by her stage name Yvonne De Carlo, was already a veteran actress, singer, and talented dancer, when she took on her TV persona of Lilly Munster in 1964.
Carlo appeared in a number of blockbuster films during the 40s and 50s but accepted the TV role to help pay for her stuntman husband’s medical bills (Bob Morgan had suffered near fatal injuries during filming of How the west was won).
Her striking looks and sultry voice made her an instant hit on the show but surprisingly, she was the producers’ second choice for the part!
Speaking about her time on the Munsters, Carlo noted “It gave me a new, young audience I wouldn't have had otherwise. It made me "hot" again, which I wasn't for a while.”
8. Carolyn Jones - Morticia Addams
Morticia Addams enters our top 10 again but this time played by Academy Award nominee and Golden Globe winner Carolyn Jones.
Jones fell in love with acting at an early age and had already received awards for her speech, dramatics and poetry recitals, before enrolling at the Pasadena Playhouse at the age of 17.
Upon graduating, she was spotted by a talent scout while working as an understudy at the Players ring theatre and signed a contract with Paramount pictures. Jones made stand out appearances in The Bachelor Party (1957), King Creole (alongside Elvis in 1958) and Career (1959) but it’s her role as the sexy goth Morticia Addams in the 1964 Addams Family TV series, that boosts her to a respectable number 8 position on our Top 10.
Her native American ancestry gave her a unique look and her mesmerizing stare trapped the hearts of many viewers over the years.
Jones was actually a natural blonde but keeping to true gothic style, dyed her hair jet black!
7. Danielle Harris - Tosh Guaneri
Actress, director and scream queen Danielle Harris made her debut in 1988's Halloween 4 and has been a regular face in horror ever since.
Celebrating her 11th & 12th birthdays on horror sets, Harris knew it was the genre for her,
"I decided that horror movies were all I wanted to do for the rest of my life. It was going to be my thing."
She enters our rankings as the manic depressive goth room mate, Tosh Guaneri in the 1998 slasher Urban Legend.
Although the character had limited screen time, she certainly made an impression and was arguably the most memorable person in the film - I can't even remember what the killer or heroine looked like, but Tosh sucking on a cigarette and having sex wearing a dog collar and leash...crystal clear memory!
Thank you Danielle Harris.
6. Kate Beckinsale - Selene & Anna Valerious
British actress and occasional model Kate Beckinsale joins our rankings in the guise of two memorable gothic characters.
The daughter of actors Richard Beckinsale and Judy Loe, Kate's debut on screen was in the TV film One against the wind in 1991. Despite having a love for acting and taking minor roles in films during the early 90s, Kate chose Oxford University over drama school to study French and Russian Literature. She was a member of the Oxford University Dramatic Society and appeared in productions at the Oxford Playhouse, including a production directed by fellow student and future Hollywood Director Tom Hooper.
Upon leaving Oxford, Beckinsale starred in the BBC film Cold Comfort Farm and continued with roles in British TV, film and stage until a move to Hollywood in 1998.
After success as a leading lady in Pearl Harbor and Serendipity, Beckinsale was cast as the iconic vampire Selene in the Underworld film saga.
Originally pitched as the Romeo & Juliet for vampires & wereWolves, Beckinsale's portrayal of Selene raised heart rates as she kicked ass in a very tight leather costume (Beckinsale spent weeks reduced to a diet of chicken and cabbage in order to fit into it, so it deserves our appreciation).
In 2004, Beckinsale was back with vampires but this time she was killing them with Hugh Jackman in the action horror, Van Helsing.
The film opened to mixed reviews and was nominated for worst film, worst movie of the year, biggest disappointment of the year, worst picture and worst actress... but on the plus side, it didn't win any of them!
As Anna Valerious, Beckinsale oozes sex appeal and her scenes at the masquerade ball are particularly good ones to watch.
In 2009, Kate Beckinsale was named the sexiest woman alive by Esquire. Although it's easy to see why, sadly in our rankings, she remains just shy of the top 5.
5. Cassandra Peterson – Elvira, Mistress of the Dark
“If they ever ask about me, tell them I was more than just a great set of boobs. I was also an incredible pair of legs. And tell them... tell them that I never turned down a friend. I... never turned down a stranger for that matter.”
The horror hostess with the mostest, Elvira Mistress of the Dark, (aka Cassandra Peterson) begins our final 5.
Actress, writer and singer Cassandra Peterson gained fame on the independent television station KCAL-TV, where her vamp alter ego, Elvira, hosted the B-movie horror show, Elvira's Movie Macabre.
No doubt inspired by the Vampira show from the 1950s, Peterson's sexy image and sharp wit became a hit with late night viewers and led to her own feature film in 1988.
Elvira's unique look was inspired by Sharon Tate in the fearless vampire killers, merged with Morticia Addams and a hint of the Ronettes.
A former Las Vegas showgirl, Peterson has appeared on the cover of Femme Fatales magazine five times.
Now 70, Peterson recently released her memoirs Yours Cruelly, Elvira: Memoirs of the Mistress of the Dark and is set to appear in the 2022 movie remake of the Munsters.
4. Helena Bonham Carter - Mrs Lovett & Bellatrix Lestrange
A true legend and for many, the first person you think of if someone asks you to name a Gothic actress...
Bonham Carter's relationship with fellow goth and director Tim Burton, made her a regular face in the genre and often paired her with another Gothic favourite, Johnny Depp.
The great-granddaughter of former Prime Minister Herbert H. Asquith and the great niece of director Anthony Asquith, Bonham Carter committed herself to acting from a young age. Her first acting job was in a commercial at the age of 16 and by 18 she was appearing in Merchant Ivory films which propelled her into stardom.
Once known as the corset queen due to her period dramas, her first taste of Gothic horror onscreen came in 1994's Frankenstein. But it was her work with Tim Burton that brought out the "sexy strange" that we now know and love her for, seen in full glory through her portrayal of Mrs Lovett in the 2007 musical Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street.
Adding a touch more psychopath and (at least for me) dialling up her sex appeal to maximum, she joined the cast of Harry Potter as the homicidal femme fatale, Bellatrix Lestrange in 2007's Order of the Phoenix.
Bonham Carter describes Bellatrix as a sadist, and created a lot of the look and personality traits we see on screen herself - "She had to be terrifying. She needed to be somebody you didn’t know what to feel towards. One moment she’s horribly revolting but then also weirdly sexy, maybe, or just disturbing to the mind when you watch her. There’s a lot of decaying, too, with the bad teeth. She’s been in prison for so long. The mad hair. She’s someone who has seen better times but still carries herself with the memory of what she was.”
Despite the efforts that Carter went to in creating this sadistic monster, personally (and I don't know what this says about my type of woman), she is perhaps the biggest screen crush i've ever had...
3. Krysten Ritter – Jessica Jones
Former model Krysten Ritter entered acting after the modelling agency she was working for put her forward for a Dr Pepper commercial. Having a natural flair in front of the camera, Ritter took on more commercials and slowly stepped away from modelling into television.
Appearing in minor television and film roles, her first notable appearance was in the 2003 film Mona Lisa Smile but she became a recognisable face after playing the role of Jane (the recovering addict and lover of Jesse) in Breaking Bad.
The show took it's visual inspiration from film noir and Ritter's character, although not in your face goth, is a loner who battles with inner demons and walks in the shadows of NYC with a deep and troubled soul.
The show won best new series at the IGN movie awards in 2015 and Ritter won the Webby award for best actress in 2016.
With Marvel now holding the rights to Jessica Jones and Ritter publicly expressing a desire to return, we may see her back on our screens again soon!
2. Winona Ryder – Mina Harker
Born Winona Laura Horowitz, Ryder chose her stage name as her Father was a big Mitch Ryder fan.
Due to her boyish looks and beatnik parents (her words), Ryder had a tough time at school and was often bullied or shunned by the other students. Her family didn't own a TV but her mother, a former projectionist at the University of Minnesota, would hang up a sheet in the barn and use a projector for family movie nights. The magic of this event attracted Ryder to acting and she would often perform her own shows for family and friends.
Ryder's first starring role was at the age of 15 in the 1986 high school drama Lucas. Her performance grabbed the attention of Tim Burton, who cast her as the goth teenager in his 1988 cult classic Bettlejuice.
Success soon followed with another dark comedy, Heathers in 1989 and Ryder quickly gained fame through roles as a young adult protagonist or the troubled teenager who broke away from the norm. This proved a hit with her teen audience who found inspiration or similarities to their own lives.
As she matured on camera, so did her roles. Still keeping her unique style and outsider traits within her characters, the 90s now saw her move into challenging or serious parts and she recieved Oscar nominations for her roles in The Age of Innocence (1994) and Little Women (1995), recieving a best supporting Actress Golden Globe for the former.
She enters our number 2 spot as the love interest in 1992's Gothic horror, Bram Stoker's Dracula.
Suprisingly, Ryder wasn't the first choice for Mina as Coppola had also considered Drew Barrymore. That may sound like a crazy suggestion but the alternative actors to play Dracula included Christian Slater, Hugh Grant, Colin Firth & Sting!
Despite an English accent and mannerisms that resembled Princess Diana, Ryder gave one of her finest performances and looked absolutely stunning throughout the film.
This was perhaps the turning point performance that proved Ryder was more than the awkward teen that we had become accustomed to.
The film itself is a classic and was listed amongst the top 100 heart pounding movies of all time by the American Film Institute and included in Steven Jay Schneider's top seller "1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die".
Winona Ryder has always kept her own style and remains a stand out face in movies and TV to this day.
A worthy second place for Noni!
1. Eva Green - Vanessa Ives, Alma LeFay Peregrine, Ava Lord and many others!
Sometimes, it just takes a real goth to pull off the ultimate look...
French actress and model Eva Green began her career on stage but shot to fame in Bernardo Bertolucci's 2003 film The Dreamers . Bertolucci described Green as being "so beautiful it's indecent" and it's hard not to agree. So stunning in fact, that James Bond was willing to give up everything to be with her and Sin City named a sequel after her!
But its her screen presence, gothic style and strong demeanour that truly grabs our attention and places her firmly in the number one spot.
As Vanessa Ives in Showtime's Penny Dreadful, Green captivated viewers with a standout performance as the victorian clairvoyant balancing on the verge of insanity. Her haunting stare, voice alterations and unhinged mannerisms were strangely enticing (at least for me), and the performance earned her critical acclaim and a Golden Globe nomination in 2016.
Green has played the role of a witch four times and is known for her dark and gritty characters. Her collaborations with Tim Burton intensify her style and she has recently been linked to Burton's next gothic project, Wednesday, the Addams family spin-off, having been approached to play...Morticia Addams!