"Bela Lugosi's Dead": true goth anthem?

Recently I took on a passing interest in goth music, and a friend of mine suggested that Bauhaus’ Bela Lugosi’s Dead is considered by many to be a “goth anthem” of sorts. I’m unfamiliar with the roots of goth music; can any goth fans give me an assessment of Bela Lugosi’s Dead and it’s place in goth music history?

Betcha your friend is old-school goth :). I was kinda goth about fifteen years ago, and Bauhaus was pretty popular then amongst my friends, but “Bela Lugosi’s Dead” was even then kind of an in-joke more than an anthem.

These days you’ll be pretty lucky to hear any of the old folks – Bauhaus, The Cure, Siouxsie and the Banshees, etc. – at a goth club. More’s the pity; I’m not particularly interested in Switchblade Symphony and the like.


I would have said “Happy House” by Siouxsie and the Banshees myself. That was one of my favourites back in my goth days, and it pretty much covered it for me.

Ugh. I worked in college radio through most of the 80’s. Bela was one of the most requested songs while I was there. It was especially heavily requested in the beginning of the year when the incoming Freshman class moved into the dorms and thought that they were so sophisticated and knew about obscure music. I’d delight in telling them that we got several requests for that song a week.


Speaking strictly of Bauhaus, I’ll take “Stigmata Martyr” over “Bela Lugosi’s Dead”, but I was always a bigger Sisters of Mercy fan anyway…nothing like “After Hours” to get a good gloom on.

And, to repeat what others have said…yes, “Bela Lugosi’s Dead” is a True Goth Anthem. Sort of the “Stairway to Heaven” of Goth: Still deeply loved by some… thought to be a tired cliche by others.

I love BL’s Dead. But any true goth must know Diamanda Galas.

True. Though I did find that unless you’ve got the right crowd, Plague Mass can clear a room faster than “The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald.”

I just want to go on record as saying I like both Bela Lugosi’s Dead AND The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald :p.

  • Tamerlane

from: …crap, closed the window, but Allmusic seemes to have cribbed it.

Hey, they got the video here: http://www.rollingstone.com/videos/playvideo.asp?sid=237141&cf=316

I think it was the big hit it was primarily because it was something you could actually dance to that was far enough from punk that haughty scenesters would get confused between the two. Joy Division was never really danceable and I don’t think the Sisters of Mercy were really that popular back then.

Of course, if you ask me, Temple of Love is significantly better and the Electric Hellfire’s version of BLD is better than the original.

Bauhaus is shown performing the song in the opening credits of ‘The Hunger’ (1983) with Catherine Deneuve and David Bowie.

Thanks to Chairman Pow, I’ve just listened to my first goth song. When does the angst kick in?

The Hunger is what I think of whenever I hear Bela Lugosi’s Dead. Looking back on that film, it was almost a handbook for goths at the time, though we were never called that. Usually “wavers”. At any rate, the most prominent and must like song at that time for that group, would be Ministry’s Halloween, in my neck of the woods.

It is often overlooked that Bauhaus’ follow-up song, “It’s OK, Bela Lugosi Is Really Alive – He Was Just Temporarily Stunned By That Large Rock That Hit Him On The Head,” wasn’t as successful.

I gotta say it…

"Bela Lugosi’s dead…

No no no no, he’s outside- looking in."

You know, I don’t think I’ve ever heard the original. Just the remixed versions. I’m too young and to much into EBM.


I’m such a failure as a goth.

Pretty much anything by Bauhaus really.

But specifically Bela Lugosi’s Dead? It is, but then its one of those songs that irritating little poseurs glom onto like already mentioned.

Like people who say they like:

The Smiths via How Soon is Now?
James via Laid
New Order via Bizarre Love Triangle


What kind of “goth” music are you listening to? If you want classic stuff, then I can’t recommend highly enough Joy Division’s Unknown Pleasures. Dark and visceral.

If modern stuff then there are a bunch of extremely good Darkwave/EBM artists out there, mostly out of Europe.

Y’know, I got the same recommendation back in the day, too, and was never able to get into Joy Division (specifically that album, the only one by them I ever bought). Give me The Cure’s Disintegration or Killing an Arab (a reference to The Stranger, not a racist anthem, grr!), or give me Siouxsie’s Peepshow or Nocturne, or give me all kinds of Bauhaus.

To each their own, though – given that I was also listening to Dead Can Dance, Tori Amos, They Might Be Giants, and Weird Al Yankovic, I think my goth credentials never were sterling :D.


Dude, I don’t know that you should be thanking me. At least not if this turns you into a goth.

Honestly, I think that my tastes are leading me more toward goth/black metal than the non-metal goth; for example I enjoy Cradle of Filth and Type O Negative more than I enjoy most of the other bands that have been mentioned here (though I will always love Souixsie and the Banshees). I absolutely love Lacuna Coil, though I have a hard time calling them Goth…they’re certainly more “goth” to me than, say, Evanescence, they just don’t fit my own expectations of gothnicity.

Am I really the first person to mention “Fly on the Windscreen” by Depeche Mode? Well, maybe it’s more “gothwave” than pure goth, but it’s still got my vote.