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Gothic (1986) HD online

Gothic (1986) HD online
Language: English
Category: Movie / Horror
Original Title: Gothic
Director: Ken Russell
Writers: Lord Byron,Percy Bysshe Shelley
Released: 1986
Duration: 1h 27min
Video type: Movie
Story of the night that Mary Shelley gave birth to the horror classic "Frankenstein." Disturbed drug induced games are played and ghost stories are told one rainy night at the mad Lord Byron's country estate. Personal horrors are revealed and the madness of the evening runs from sexual fantasy to fiercest nightmare. Mary finds herself drawn into the sick world of her lover Shelley and cousin Claire as Byron leads them all down the dark paths of their souls.
Cast overview, first billed only:
Gabriel Byrne Gabriel Byrne - Byron
Julian Sands Julian Sands - Shelley
Natasha Richardson Natasha Richardson - Mary Shelley
Myriam Cyr Myriam Cyr - Claire Clairmont
Timothy Spall Timothy Spall - Dr. Polidori
Alec Mango Alec Mango - Murray
Andreas Wisniewski Andreas Wisniewski - Fletcher
Dexter Fletcher Dexter Fletcher - Rushton
Pascal King Pascal King - Justine
Tom Hickey Tom Hickey - Tour Guide
Linda Coggin Linda Coggin - Turkish Mechanical Woman
Kristine Landon-Smith Kristine Landon-Smith - Mechanical Woman
Chris Chappell Chris Chappell - Man in Armour (as Chris Chappel)
Mark Pickard Mark Pickard - Young William
Kiran Shah Kiran Shah - Fuseli Monster

The painting that Mary Shelley sees on the wall, and that subsequently comes to life in her dream, is Johann Heinrich Fuessli's "Nightmare."

After Shelly comes down from the roof and tells of his fascination with lightning, Byron calls him "Shelly, The Modern Prometheus." When it was first published in 1818, Mary Shelly's novel was called "Frankenstein; or, The Modern Prometheus."

During one of the establishing shots of the villa at night, a slowly revolving band of light appears on screen. This comes from a "phantasmagoria", a device which displayed pictures by sending light through holes cut in a ring of metal. The book that Shelley and co. read which inspired her to write Frankenstein (and lead to the events in the movie) was also called Phantasmagoria.

Gabriel Byrne walks with a limp and carries a cane because the real Lord Byron had a club foot.

Other works of literature mentioned in the film are "The Castle of Otranto" by Horace Walpole (regarded as the first Gothic novel), "Vathek" by William Beckford, and "The Monk" by Matthew Lewis, another gothic novel about a corrupt priest.

Polidori's line "Sleep is nature's balm" comes from a poem by Keats, a contemporary and close friend of both Shelley and Byron.

Last film of Alec Mango.

Ken Russell: on the tour boat with his family at the end of the film.



Reviews: [25]

  • avatar

    Na

    Despite it's uninspiring title, Ken Russell's "Gothic" is actually an intriguing, and uniquely inspiring piece of cinema. Mary Shelly's "Frankenstein" is one of the stories that has helped to shape horror cinema, and so the story behind it is guaranteed to interest horror fans. This film isn't exactly the story of how the story came to fruition; but rather a compilation of ideas surrounding "what could have happened" (but quite clearly didn't). The film takes influence from the enigmatic Lord Byron more than anything, and it's always him that springs to mind as we watch the small cast delve into their imaginations, culminating in an orgy of sex and violence. The story is simple, and focuses more on imagery and the ideas behind what is happening on screen. We follow Percy Shelly and his wife to be, Mary; along with her sister Claire, who travel to the self-exiled home of Lord Byron. While there, the four of them; along with Byron's biographer, decide to indulge in the art of making up ghost stories. However, the fun gets out of hand when the quintet begins to believe that they have actually created a monster.

    The film has a very 'intellectual' flavour, but the fact is that there isn't a lot below the surface of this film. Gothic, to me at least, is a visual treat rather than food for thought - with Ken Russell's imagery providing more than any deep and complex substance. The imagery is stunning, and fits into the film very well. Russell's sets compliment the story excellently, and the atmosphere in which the film takes place is more important than the story itself. Lord Byron's house is almost a character within itself, and when combined with the actual characters; Russell has provided horror fans with a very surreal film indeed. The cast is excellent. Films with a small cast rely more on their actors, and this film certainly doesn't fall down in that respect. Gabriel Byrne leads the cast, and does an excellent job of holding the film together. Julian Sands, Natasha Richardson, Myriam Cyr and Timothy Spall, who all portray their characters excellently, join him. On the whole; I can easily see why people dislike this film; as it's somewhat messy, and doesn't adhere to common horror standards - but if you like your horror different, this is highly recommended.
  • avatar

    Mamuro

    Films like Gothic, directed by Ken Russell, will not be to most people's taste. Russell is noted for a skewed view of life with very twisted imagery, such as his invariable trademark snake that slithers around in all his films. In this particular film he has devised a story that touches on reality in an unreal way as he brings the famous night that Percy Shelly, Mary Shelly, he half-sister Claire, Lord Byron and Dr. John Polidori spent together that brought about two of the great horror stories of all time about as a result. Between debauchery and Opium laced nightmares this could have been very much what it was really like as this quintet of famous or rather infamous people got together and brought the birth of a new kind of literature, years before Edgar Allen Poe began his writing. Polidori's "The Vampyre" which for many years was attributed to Byron was the forerunner and inspiration for Bram Stoker's Dracula. Of course, Mary Shelly was to go on and write "Frankenstein." This is how it could have happened.

    This feature is intense and not for everyone. Definitely not for young people. But a true intellectual's horror tale.
  • avatar

    Kiutondyl

    It must be said, I love the work of Ken Russell. If he were of any other nationality or generation he'd be subject to a veritable tome of critical analysis; with amazing films like Elgar (1962), The Debussy Film (1965), Women in Love (1969), The Devils (1971) and Savage Messiah (1972) all standing out as some of the most radical, imaginative and visually impressive feature films of the last fifty years. Too often his excesses got the better of him, as in films such as Lisztomania (1975), The Lair of the White Worm (1987) and Salome's Last Dance (1988), but despite the overall quality of those films, the results were always interesting and visually unforgettable. Gothic (1986) has much in common with the latter collection of works, being somewhat messy and decadent whilst still trying to remain somewhat conventional in its approach to character and narrative. It is this aspect of the film that is the weakest, with the story and the characterisation often feeling somewhat weak or unformed, particularly in the first half. However, once the film gets going - and the wild images and hallucinations begin to accumulate - Russell's energetic style and talent for creating outré and unforgettable visual compositions and ideas really begins to take off; creating a film that is fascinating and open to deeper interpretations regarding the character of Mary Shelley and the unfortunate circumstances of her life that may have led to the creation of her classic and iconic horror story, Frankenstein.

    Naturally, the roots of the film are based in fact, taking place in June of 1816 - the "year without summer" - when the five central characters met at Lord Byron's Villa Diodati by Lake Geneva. From here, the film creates a fictional back-story to the wet and windy night that would give birth, not only to Shelley's Frankenstein, but also Polidori's celebrated novel, The Vampyre. What follows is a bizarre and overwhelming example of pure visual storytelling, which is all the more impressive when you take into account the obviously limited budget. However, if you can overcome this aspect - as well as the rather poor performances from Julian Sands as the exaggerated Percy Shelley and Myriam Cyr as Mary's half-sister Claire Clairmont - then the film will reward with a truly astounding final act filled with Russell's typically surreal and lurid imagery, an escalating sense of fever-dream-like horror and exaggeration and the three fine performances from Gabriel Byrne as the seductive Lord Byron, Natasha Richardson as the tortured Mary Shelly and Timothy Spall as the beleaguered Dr. John William Polidori. The tension is also heightened by the choice of location, with the film taking place almost entirely within the Byron estate, and almost entirely at night; although there are two separate framing devises, one of which takes place in the present-day and helps clarify some of the scenarios depicted in the film's aforementioned final act.

    These don't necessarily add much to the story - though neither do they detract - simply giving a certain sense of context before Russell gets on with the mind-blowing imagery and finely tuned atmosphere of eroticised dread. Some have likened the film to Dario Argento's classic supernatural thriller Suspiria (1977), with the use of Gothic locations, bold colours and a self-consciously visual approach to storytelling. These similarities stand, though you can also see the film as an extension of the earlier Altered States (1980) and Crimes of Passion (1984); both in certain thematic preoccupations, and in the actual visual presentation overall. The film works simply because of the intensity of the images, but ultimately going deeper than even that; tying the whole thing into the character of Mary Shelley and her own sense of personal tragedy. It gives the film that much needed emotional quality, helped along by the fine performance from the incredibly young Richardson in one of her first leading roles. She's complimented well by Byrne, who takes the role of Byron entirely seriously, even when spouting some incredibly pretentious dialog and attempting to seduce every character in the film. Nonetheless, the intensity of the role shines through and really establishes the character, with his fears and weaknesses going towards the creation of his own personal nightmare that will reverberate through time.

    The film suggests that by raising the spirits of the dead you fate yourself to an inescapable evil. This is reflected by the tragic circumstances that surrounded the characters - hinted at in that tour-de-force final - and their eventual fate as documented by history itself. It's very clever once you get past the awkward, slightly giddy and anachronistic-like feeling of the first few scenes and really get into the horror aspect and the more much rewarding sense of human interest. Naturally, it won't be to all tastes, as the factors that Russell tends to highlight in his work - religious symbolism, garishness, sex and sensuality, brutality and anachronistic humour - will obviously cause problems for viewers looking for a more conventional "horror" story. I liked the break in convention, though. After all, there are plenty of horror films that regurgitate the same old stock tactics and scenarios. Gothic goes for a different approach; one that is more eccentric, single-minded and unique, layering the fact and fantasy elements of Stephen Volk's imaginative screenplay with a lurid and sensational approach to the visual telling of the story, rife with his usual themes and obsessions. If you love Russell's work, and appreciate interesting and unconventional cinema, then Gothic is well worth checking out; if not for the bizarre visual aspects and exciting, nightmarish final, then certainly for the nicely judged performances of Richardson, Byrne and Spall.
  • avatar

    Ballagar

    I guess if you were Ken Russell in 1986, riding a crest of weirdity, you can do just about anything you want. I think that Russell was the first really wacko film director I got to know. I hadn't watched anything of his for a long time. This is one of those things that allows this director to take complete license. You have true historical figures who come together in the house of Lord Byron, a really colorful character. The lives of these people come out of boredom. They are misunderstood and a bit spoiled. So, according to Russell, they sit down one night and begin to tell their best horror story. This leads to a series of debauches, hallucinations, whatever. It is filled with images and sex and masochism and anything that the director could throw in there. Now, because you are producing in an accepting time, you can get away with all that. I guess I would watch this again, knowing what the whole of the thing presents, but when you play by no rules other than to do what you want, the results are like throwing paint on a canvass. We get a lot of paint, a lot of color, but no motif. So, while I thought this was a real head trip, I'm not so sure there is much coherence or even meaning to it.
  • avatar

    interactive man

    I've only seen two of Ken Russell's films (Gothic and Lair of the White Worm), but if they are anything to go by, he is one of the best horror directors of all time. It is so nice to see someone going against the mould and not making predictable slasher films or Hollywood 'Sixth-Sense' style horror-thrillers.

    It is about the weird night that Mary Shelly and her poet brother spent with Lord Byron, which supposedly inspired her to write Frankenstein.

    It is filled with hallucionations and erotic weirdness which bridges it much closer to the work of David Lynch or Cronenberg than to the traditional horror film.

    I absolutely loved this film and can't recommend it enough. Even if you hate it, you can't deny that it's an experience! 5/5
  • avatar

    Arakus

    As this film seemed to be the first film (that I could find anyway) to describe how Mary Shelley came up with the idea for Frankenstein (published in 1818), I must give some consideration. However, the pains the film goes through in depicting a drug-induced, nightmarish landscape of horrors, is too far gone.

    Laudenaum, a popular hallucinogenic drug during the 19th century, brings to life the imagination of five manic individuals: Lord Byron, his physician Dr. Polidori, Percy Shelley, Mary Shelley, and Claire Claremont (Mary's half sister). When Lord Byron challenges them all to come up with the most horrific tale they can muster, each cultivate his/her own macabre web of self-torture.

    This film, in an attempt to show the frantic workings of the mind, comes off as merely comical at times. Some of the scenes, which are intended to shock and convey horror, seemed to simply repel. Gabriel Byrne aptly plays the decadent Lord Byron, but his character is overly vicious and twisted. Julian Sands plays Percy Shelley, who is like a lunatic pedant at best. If you can figure out one thing he says, as he seems to spout "non-sensical intelligence" (if there is such a thing), then kudos to you. Natasha Richardson does well in playing Mary Shelley, although the described "free love" she was supposedly a participant in I think was a bit of a stretch in this movie and could have been left out.

    I must admit, for all the reviews I read of the film, I expected more of a punch and more of a meat-and-potatoes thriller story. This film did little but disorient using a sexually-hedonistic Rubix cube. Perhaps that was the director's intention, but the film did little in translating its horror and madness to its characters. Thomas Dolby's score just grates the disorientation further into the bone.

    I will give the director credit for doing his homework in researching the odd amount of death that seemed to riddle Mary Shelley's biography. The marriage of Frankenstein's creation to this aspect as being nothing ironic is quite clever. All in all, I just think a better job could have been done with a brilliant idea. And somebody please give Julian Sands a role where he is not a blithering crybaby! 4/10
  • avatar

    Fawrindhga

    This is the type of film which makes you fall in love with movies. Ken Russell is a master filmmaker and one which always captivates, delights and challenges the viewer. I was lucky enough to catch him in Philadelphia in the 90's where he was given a filmmaker award for excellence in film. He's as interesting, humorous and intelligent as his movies.

    Other films by him I highly recommend WOmen in Love (1969), Lisztomania (1975), Altered States (1980), Salomé's Last Dance (1988), The Lair of the White Worm (1988), The Rainbow (1989) and there are probably many others - including his work for British TV - but I've yet to see them yet unfortunately.

    Gothic is a film which will enthrall, engage and frighten the viewer with excellent acting from ALL the actors - support and lead. Sad that this was Richardson's first major film and we have been denied the grace of viewing any future projects from such a wonderful actor.

    I highly recommend Gothic to any serious film goer. This is the type of film which will make wish to research further information about the main characters. Mary Shelley is brought to flesh through Russell's excellent direction and Richardson's beautifully nuanced intelligent interpretation.
  • avatar

    Survivors

    I didn't quite understand this film the first time I saw it. It was like a mass of confusion, but after watching it a few more times, I understand why it seemed as such. It can be difficult to tell what's real and what's just a hallucination (or a ghost). Gothic is definitely a thinking person's horror film. These people (Mary Shelley, Lord Byron, etc) were definately ahead of their time and very strange for lack of a better word. I was never a big fan of the story of Frankenstein, despite being a horror movie fan, but this film reeled me in to wanting to know more about Mary Shelley and the bizarre lifestyle of her and her friends. How true to their actual lifestyle this film actually is, I'm not sure, but it makes Mary Shelley's masterpiece make more sense. As for the film "Gothic" itself, words are hard to describe it as it is hard to understand it. But once one does get it, it is far more intriguing than "Frankenstein" in my opinion. With the insanity, freaky images, and the insight into the lives of these famous literary people, I would highly recommend this film to intelligent people who like horror films. It may be far from the best film ever made, but it is excellent for people with a mind. And as I tell people who haven't seen it, 'this movie will make you never want to do drugs again'!
  • avatar

    Ces

    GOTHIC is a seductive and fascinating study of the four principle players in the turn-of-the-century origin of at least one, if not two, of the principle monster icons of popular culture: the

    vampire and the Frankenstein Monster. But despite the incredible (and true) historical significance of the writing challenge, to produce a ghost story apiece worthy of these literary personages, Mary and Percy Shelley, Lord Byron and Polidori, the film is brilliant in its fictional depiction of people whose minds are brilliant enough, creatively, that their ideas become tangible forces, released, and uncontrollable.

    The chaotic structure of GOTHIC is excellent, while the interplay between the actors is fabulous. GOTHIC's intellectual hysteria creates an atmosphere where ghosts and demons gain power and autonomous life from their creators, showing the formulation in Mary Shelley's mind of the Frankenstein story, and the tragic consequence of both the story and the real lives of Percy Shelley, Byron and Polidori. Well worth experiencing.
  • avatar

    Iesha

    Historical accuracy moves over to make room for dramatic license in this extremely bizarre "re-imagining" of the weekend Mary Shelley first brought "Frankenstein" to life (as it were!). Although, to be fair, there isn't too much about the novel at all.

    Byron (Gabriel Byrne) invites Mary, her then future husband Percy (Julian Sands) and her cousin Claire to spend the weekend with himself and another friend of his, Dr Pollidore (who also went on to write a Gothic horror) at his estate in Geneva. After much drug-fuelled recourse, dodgy parlour games and sexually liberated liaisons it becomes apparent that the ever omni-sexual Byron has questionable motives and is basically trying to fire-in to all the guests! This brings about an adequate amount of paranoia,jealousy and arguing amongst everyone which inevitably turns into soul-seeking, psychotic breakdowns and eventual emotional ennui. Presumably it is in this state Shelley went on to put pen to paper.

    The cast are solid in their roles and Byrne is thoroughly convincing as the foppish predator. Russell delivers this movie with complete frankness and is somewhat mercenary in his reshaping of the facts to suit his own ends. Never one to shirk from the difficult often shocking subjects, he manages to turn an otherwise average script into a sexually charged hallucinogenic nightmare. While not exactly deserving of the "horror" label it has been tagged with, "Gothic" is an interesting foray into the dark abyss of the director's mind.
  • avatar

    Cerekelv

    Gothic is a wonderful mess of a movie, combining period costumes and detail with hallucinogenic, drug induced sequences. Focusing on the famous night when Mary Shelley first conceived of Frankenstein, Ken Russell's film builds on this foundation to create an in many respects psychedelic examination of its main characters, Mary Shelley, Percy Bysshe Shelley, Lord Byron, and Claire Clarmont. Through the bizarre visions of that night, we come to understand the personalities and lives of these figures.

    These character studies are furthered by excellent performances. Gabriel Byrne is excellent as usual, while Natasha Richardson is good in her debut role of Mary Shelley. However, the true stand out of the piece is Miriam Cyr as the troubled Claire Claremont, stealing many scenes from her better known co-stars.

    In many respects, the film is incoherent, and will be difficult to follow if you do not pay attention. (Some familiarity with the historical figures discussed also helps.) However, Ken Russell specializes in cinema as experience and spectacle, and carries the whole project off to great effect.
  • avatar

    Granigrinn

    I saw this some twenty years ago, and haven't seen it since. It is a very particular vision of the famous night when Lord Byron, Percy Shelley and Mary Shelley spent a night in a country estate in Switzerland and decided to see who wrote the scariest story. Mary Shelley, of course, wrote Frankenstein out of that night. There are other movies on this subject - I think Roger Corman made one. Gothic is what one expects from Ken Russell - lurid, grotesque, hallucinatory, over the top. It hasn't been seen a lot since then, it hasn't become one of his classics, but it is a good film for those who like this sort of thing. And there is the addition of seeing the then young and upcoming English actors playing this - Natasha Richardson (as Mary Shelley), Gabriel Byrne (Lord Byron), Julian Sands (Percy Shelley), Timothy Spall. The scene that have stand most in my memory: Myriam Cyr's nipples turning into eyes.
  • avatar

    Camper

    Bit of a bizarre summary, but, like Reed, Byron is persistently seen as a one-dimensional dark character. It's what people want him to stand for, and, like LR, Lord B did his best come out as the Haunted Soul.

    And though, as a Byron fan, I cherish this movie along with the much weaker Byronpic "Remando al Viento" (Gonzalo Suarez, 1987), Gothic makes this capital mistake. Well, it's not a mistake as much as a missed opportunity. Only an constipated intellectual would object to Gothic's Byron portrayal (or to the "Amadeus"-Mozart) - nothing wrong with that. It's just that it would have been much more interesting to have a 'new' view on Byron, different from the same litany we've had to hear for the past 200 years. But!

    But, the thing that does it in this one is the casting! The actors are simply great. Julian Sands IS Shelley (although maybe with some slight overacting). Same for the others (Timothy Spall!). Gabriel Byrne does a terrific job as the Lord himself and even manages at several points to squeeze in some glimpses of Byron's vulnerability (eg when Mary rejects his avances). He makes the tragic Byron come alive, and not just the dark dangerous madman. However, he's too old. And I'm not saying this out of puristic concern. It's just that the partly 'self-created' nature of Byron's theatrical tragedy would have come out better if he'd been portrayed as the 28-year old he was at the time (Byrne was 10 years older and it shows). From the looks point-of-view, Hugh Grant was better casted in Remando al Viento, though his acting was terrible (or, 'Grant-ish') and at no point did he manage to portray the subtlety in character that Byrne gave Lord B.

    Russell had the great idea not to try and portray a significant part of Byron's life, but rather to focus on the atmosphere that was about in naive early-19th-century Europe awaking to romanticism. A bit unfortunately, Russell focused on the hallucinogenic parts of the Geneva-nights (who would have expected anything else from him?) - and misses out on some of the other aspects of that era that formed the Byron character. Of course, when you set the movie in one single night, you have to invent something to keep the action going - "Byron eats, drinks and tries to write some verses" is not exactly a plot.

    Anyway, cool movie, but also a missed opportunity. Maybe make another Byron movie with exactly the same cast? (you'd be surprised to see what they can do with make-up these days) I see it at least 5 times a year. More for Byron fans however.
  • avatar

    Wat!?

    ...which undoubtedly explains my lack of appreciation, understanding, or any positive feeling I might muster against this extraordinary piece of rubbish. I love Mary Shelley's Frankenstein, the Frankenstein films(for the most part), and history but this film has virtually nothing to do with any of that. It looks like some guy on a big acid trip got a camera and some far-out crew and made this film coaxing some over-the-top performances from what normally would be a great cast. Yes, many will say I lost the point. I didn't get what director Ken Russell was trying to do. His vision is lost on me(thankfully I might add). The best part of this film is the beginning prologue and end epilogue of a tourist group in Switzerland seeing the place where Frankenstein was born. Pity, we had to endure the bit in the middle. The film lacks cohesion so to give you the story would virtually be impossible but here goes: five people(Lord Byron, Percy Shelley, Mary Shelley, some other girl, and Dr. Polidori)are vacationing in the Alps and taking part in all kinds of perversions that would make the Marquis de Sade quite happy. You might have been taught in school that they had a contest and each set out to write a ghost story. Here there is little screen time devoted to that. What we do get is intellectually pompous drivel devoid of any real substance - substantiative or artistic. The cast drives around like mad with Julian Sands parading naked on a roof top and looking more like an inmate of One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest rather than a great 19th century Romantic poet. Gabriel Byrne is sadistic as the great Byron. Timothy Spall is mad and disgusting as Polidori. Only Natasha Richardson give a somewhat subtle performance - if you can call it that for it lacks any direction at all. Ken Russell has always been intriguing as a director and if you are looking for something off the beaten track - this road is spotless and free of conventional transportation. Sometime; however, I would rather take the road more traveled.
  • avatar

    Rko

    Gothic, directed by Ken Russell, is a rather interesting film that deals with, among other things, the dark side of creativity and imagination. More specifically, it's about the night when Mary Shelley came up with the idea that she would later turn into the novel "Frankenstein." By and large, the performances are quite good, although I didn't really care for Julian Sands. However, the story was almost non-existent and ephemeral, existing merely to have a bunch of people go around saying stuffy lines and get scared out of their wits by creatures borne of their imaginations. Granted, some of these sequences and images were haunting and surreal, but it all added up to a lot of style with very little substance. As far as the score is concerned, I thought that the work Thomas Dolby did was impeccable as far as its musical quality, but some of the cues didn't really fit (to me) with this kind of period piece. The story takes place in the early 19th century, but a lot of the music sounded very 1980's with synthesizers and programmed drums. It's a score that I'd buy, but I'm not too sure that it completely fit the film. From a technical standpoint, I thought it was very well-made, i.e., it was well-lit and the shot composition was varied. There were also some Dutch angles that accentuated the disorienting feel the filmmakers seemed to be going for. Overall, if you're looking for a well-told story that has characters you care about and identify with, this might not be the best choice for you. However, if you like heavily stylized and surreal horror, this will probably suit your fancy.
  • avatar

    Maman

    I saw this film the day-after Halloween, 1986, and went-back for another-watch. This is one-of Ken Russell's better 1980s-films, and it exudes a sensibility for decadence that I love. If you really do feel a soft-spot for horror, this is going to be the best film-about that amazing-night at Villa Deodati in 1816, when Lord Byron, his Physician-and lover John Polidori, and Mary and the poet Percy Shelley made a wager as to who could write the best "ghost-story". This film is about that night, and the people who birthed the modern-horror genre. Poe would cement it shortly-afterward. With luscious-cinematography, and an eye for the Romantic, Russell captures-the-essence of where Mary Shelley's "Frankenstein" came-from, as-well as the genesis of the "Vampire"-as-seducer that was Byron. Ironically, Lord Byron never wrote his "story", nor does it appear did Percy Shelley. Nearly-all of the people from that night were dead within-ten-years, nearly all died-young. Russell almost-suggests they unleashed-a-curse that fateful-night, yet he also undermines-it intentionally, showing us that the seeds-of-destruction were already present in Byron, Percy and Polidori.

    Fitting to a Ken Russell-film, we are regaled-with lots of sexual-expression, and insanity! To say this film is intoxicating for lovers of the Romantic would be euphemistic--it is sensual and free, totally-unapologetic for its' excesses. It is a genuinely-creepy film, with a great sense and love of the unknown; a terror, more-than a horror, as much of the film is the build-up, with occasional-revelation that is horror. So-many images from this film will haunt you for years, and many of them include the still-born children of Mary Shelley, the genesis of her "creature". Horror is only horror if it is about the concerns and fears of our own-lives, and this is why these stories continue-to-resonate today. With genetic-engineering becoming a reality, we can see that Mary Shelley's work also constitutes science-fiction, it is visionary. She would survive both Byron and Shelley, to be haunted by her dead-children and lovers, an eternal-story itself. Starring Gabriel Byrne (Byron), Julian Sands (Percy Shelley), Natasha Richardson (Mary Shelley", and Timothy Spall (as Dr. John Polidori), it's unlikely there will ever be a finer-tribute to these creators-of (and inspirations-for) modern-horror.

    Note: The Pioneer-DVD is shoddy. It's simply OK, and was taken from a VHS-master. I saw the film in the theaters, and it was definitely matted to be 1.85:1. It might-be that Lion's Gate owns it now in their Artisan-acquisition, but don't bet-on-it. They seem-intent on botching-it for the fans.
  • avatar

    VizoRRR

    This was a very good movie, however it's one of the weirdest movies i have ever seen. I'm not gonna even try to explain the plot, it's too hard, there's a lot of really , really messed up images, and lots of creepy atmosphere. This is quite underrated, and has been unfairly panned by a lot of people, it's always interesting, always fascinating , and it has a couple of really cool twists as well. The Direction is very good. Ken Russell does an excellent job here,keeping the pace excellent and creating lots of creepy atmosphere, great use of the rain machine, also giving us some messed up images, to go along with it, plus the set pieces, and the use of colors were both great!. There is a little bit of gore. We get a skinless corpse, severed head, hand stabbed over and over on a nail blood, bloody dead baby, eyes on someone's Tits (you heard me), someone drinks a glass with leeches in it (Very gross) and other minor stuff. The Acting is wonderful and over the top!. Gabriel Byrne is wonderful here, he is creepy as always, intense, and very likable!. Julian sands gives a fantastic performance, here he is also intense, and watching his mind go crazy was a treat!, plus his chemistry with Natasha is so on!. Natasha Richardson is great here, she is beautiful on top of things, and gave a very good performance!, plus she was very likable. Myriam Cyr, is very good here, she creeped me out in several scenes. Timothy Spall, delivers a very OTT Performance, but it worked for the film. Overakk i highly suggest you give this one a chance! ***1/2 out of 5
  • avatar

    Roram

    Next to the brilliant making of this movie and five actors who obviously like the plot, their roles and the director(?), this movie is one of the best in showing the way of living in the romantic era. ... No not showing!! It LIVES it!!! There are so many details in costumes, dialogues and situations which are typical for this period in the early 19th century, that only someone who loves the romantic era could build such a work of art!!!

    Movies like "Sleepy Hollow" or "Interview with a Vampire" are beautiful and sweet!!! But it's a TODAY-view!! They are not really romantic or gothic but stereotype (Anyway!! I like them!!)

    Besides all that, it is interesting that this night described in "Gothic" which really happend, was some kind of "birth of modern horror"!

    Mary Shelley wrote Frankenstein, we all know!! But Polidoris Story "The Vampire" he wrote under the impressions of that night became a very famous gothic-novel of it's time. It is suggesting, that even Bram Stoker read it later on before writing HIS famous vampire-novel. So two of the basic horror-myths (Dracula and Frankenstein) had their roots in that night!!

    Ken Russel is well-known in showing us historical themes (like The Music Lovers, The Devils, Lisztomania etc.)!! Gothic is less bizarre than the others movies. But it has been the right decision, because now the story and the actors have enough place to build a kaleidoscope of romantic and gothic visions and situations. It is the story that fascinates and not only the way of telling it!

    Watch it!! Enjoy the dialogues!! Is it E.A.Poe, is it Ch.Beaudelaire or Byron or Shelley themselves?? No it is just a screenplay!!

    For me it is 10/10!!!
  • avatar

    Sennnel

    On a dark and stormy night, in a remote, but lavish country estate, in an equally distant Victorian mansion there resides the charismatic, but often eccentric, Englishman, Lord Byron (Gabriel Byrne). Staged for an exercise in humanistic logic, scientific philosophy and creative writing, he gathers an odd assembly of thrill seeking Bohemian characters. Among the notables, are poet Percy Shelly, his author wife Mary, his personal physician, and of course their host, Lord Byron. Beginning with a blasphemous premise that they are imbued with the power to create life itself, Byron suggests they abandon their earthly inhibitions of morality and civil conviction and drink a concentrated draft of Laudium laced wine. The terrifying after effects manifest themselves in the literal passages later found in the poetic works of Percy Shelley or his wife's most famous novel Frankenstein. With a storm raging high above them, the group evokes sacred beliefs, sacrilegious rites and amoral concepts which create a frightening spectral atmosphere that nearly consumes them. Anyone seeking the foundation of the most popular Gothic monster ever created, should view this film. ****
  • avatar

    Umrdana

    This movie stunk. I saw it when it came out in '86 and still remember it as the most horrible movie I ever saw. (The Virgin Suicides gave it a real run for its money, though.) I suppose fans will say I didn't "get" it, but I think it was just bad.

    I think what bugged me about this movie so much is that the idea is a good one. To see it brought to life with so much BAD dialog (and these were literary greats!) and SENSELESS grotesqueness was a huge disappointment. An example below with a very minor spoiler.

    *VERY MINOR SPOILER* When Shelley sees his wife crawling around on the basement floor naked, covered in filth, and clutching a dead rat in her mouth he intones, with terror in his eyes, "This is madness! She hates rats!" Ugh.

    Sorry, fans. I give it a 0/10.
  • avatar

    Jairani

    "Gothic" is a fictional account of a June evening in 1816 which purportedly inspired Mary Shelley to write "Frankenstein." It was at the Villa Diodati, with her soon-to-be-husband Percy Shelley, Lord Byron, her stepsister Claire Clairmont, and Dr. William Polidori—all important historical figures. During a storm, the group decide to have an impromptu seance, after which they are tormented by apparitions, visions, and bumps in the night.

    Criticized by some for being one of Russell's more outlandish works, "Gothic" is certainly bonkers —like a fever dream crossed with the literary works of its subjects. Total cohesion is impossible given Russell's aims here, which are far more impressionistic than anything else. The film works itself into a frenzy that mirrors the state of mind of its characters, under the influence of the monsters of their own minds, or of God's, or the devil's, or perhaps (according to some historical accounts), opium use. The film never clues the audience in to any of these; we are simply handed the madness all its own.

    There are some nightmarish visuals throughout and several notably disturbing sequences. Others are utterly bizarre and borderline comical, a line that seems to be toed quite finely throughout. Intimations of the characters' own inner struggles and demons are transmitted subtly and overtly: Miscarriages, lost romances, homosexual desires, and religious paranoia. The performances match the content in terms of their histrionics; Julian Sands is especially over-the-top as Percy Shelley, and the same can be said for Miriam Cyr and Timothy Spall, while Natasha Richardson and Gabriel Byrne are a bit more understated in comparison.

    In the end, "Gothic" is really one of those love-it-or-hate-it types of films. It is thin on plot and thick on impressions and visuals. At times the film feels like a haunted funhouse where things go bump in the night, and at others is far more grave and dark than its more tongue-in-cheek moments. For what Russell seemed to be aiming to do, the film accomplishes it with the help of each creature, apparition, and hysteric. As a deluge of human repressions, fears, and existential dilemmas come to life, "Gothic" is an appropriately bloody, dripping pulp. 9/10.
  • avatar

    Sinredeemer

    Ignore all the negativity in writings about this film, unless you are hoping for some sombre biopic, then you will surely love this all sex and violence interpretation of what might have been the night three writers were so inspired. Usually the night is usually noted for giving us Mary Shelley's 'Frankenstein' but seemingly both Byron and Shelley were also fired up after this night of all nights. Visually as you would expect from Russell it is absolutely sumptuous and startling and with the surprisingly effective score from Thomas Dolby, this is one fantastic ride from beginning to end. Not too much to stop and think about but be assured this is a pretty disturbing film with all the participants encouraged to let out their inner demons. Great turns all round with Gabriel Byrne and Natasha Richardson being particularly effective and Timothy Spall and Myriam Cyr, particularly disturbing. Sensational.
  • avatar

    GoodBuyMyFriends

    This movie gets a 10/10 for the sheer creativity and weirdness! I rented it for the ever-wonderful Julian Sands, who plays Shelley. Wow, I got quite the surprise while watching this one! It actually is really scary at some points. I nearly jumped out of my seat when I saw Kiran Shah (who was a size double for Frodo in Lord of the Rings) sitting on Mary's stomach. It's so unsuspected, even though it's on the cover of the movie box.

    This film is all over the place and quite disturbing. Thomas Dolby ("She Blinded Me With Science") provides a great, if somewhat out of place, score.

    Trust me, you'll feel like you've been on an acid trip after watching this one!
  • avatar

    Hatе&love

    Gothic is set in Geneva at the Villa Deodati where English poet Lord Byron (Gabriel Byrne) lives in a self imposed exile. Percy Shelley (Julian Sands) his lover Mary Godwin (Miranda Richardson) & her sister Claire (Myriam Cyr) all turn up wanting to spend some quality time with Byron & have some fun, Byron invites everyone in & says they are welcome. Over the course of that very night lots of strange things happen which I'm at a loss to explain & the film itself doesn't do a very good job either...

    This British production was directed by Ken Russell & is a film which almost defies logical explanation or any reasonable critique of it, I don't know what Kenneth was on when he made this but it must have been strong stuff & it's no wonder he's been relegated to appearing on Celebrity Big Brother & making home films which no-ones ever seen. The script by Stephen Volk which takes itself extremely seriously is a strange beast to say the least although one has to bear in mind that what ended up on screen maybe isn't what he actually wrote as many things can happen between writing a script & the finished product, if this finished version was representative of his script though one has to wonder how this piece of crap ever got financed & who did he think this mess of a film was going to appeal to? Certainly not your average horror film fan that's for sure. The basic plot about the the events which lead up to Mary writing Frankenstein & Byron's doctor John Polidori (Timothy Spall) to write The Vampire could have been decent but it's totally lost under loads of pretentious art-house visuals which are far from impressive. As a whole Gothic is bizarre, weird & just totally out there unfortunately it's also pointless, boring, crap, rubbish, meaningless, empty, unsatisfying & what really kills it is that it provides zero entertainment value, yes it really is that bad. It's not even historically accurate, did you know it was actually Byron who visited Shelley & not the other way round as Gothic would have you believe? Well now you do. I pretty much hated this film from start to finish.

    Director Russell is in total over-the-top mode here with some strange imagery, unfortunately it's not very striking & it just all comes off a weird & pointless. The whole film is quite abstract & surreal, in fact it's maybe the Salvador Dali of horror films! Just when you think it's settling down into some sort of proper story as Claire admits that she's pregnant with Byron's child or when they hold a séance around an old skull it goes nowhere & ends back up with some more strange scenes which makes no sense. Although the visuals are strange & weird I don't think they are particularly stylishly filmed or constructed which doesn't help. The film as a whole is quite tame, the nudity isn't excessive & there's no gore or violence to speak of.

    Technically the film is alright, the location used was Gaddesdon Place in Hamel Hampstead in Hertfordshire which is in good old England & the house in the film just feels very empty & basic although it's obviously of the right period & looks the business. It's generally well made with decent production values throughout. This has a good cast with Byrne, Richardson, Spall & Sands but they ham it up & put in pretty bad overwrought performances.

    Gothic is a film which I personally hated, I'm positive it has some fans out there but most film-goers will find it an absolute mess. In fact I'd struggle to even call it a proper film it's that bad, who in their right mind actually green lit this piece of crap & how did Kenneth manage to convince anyone to finance it?
  • avatar

    Hellstaff

    A great situation. Here are Byron and his girl friend Camille, Shelley and his wife, or rather his girl friend, and Dr. Polidori. All come together on a haunted evening and agree to dream up ghost stories. Poor Polidori tried, but his effort stank. Byron put in a bit more effort and talent and incorporated it into the introduction into a later, longer work. Or was that Shelley? I get them mixed up. The most important thing to come out of that summer was Mary Shelley's "Frankenstein: or The Modern Prometheus."

    Well, it's understandable. It was a time when science was flexing its technological muscles during the industrial revolution, and theology was coming under rational scrutiny, which is always bad for theology. Within a few years there would be a virtual revolution underway. Andrew Dickson White's "The Warfare of Science and Theology in Christendom," Madame Blavatsky, a kind of séance movement, in which lots of celebrities joined, including Sir Arthur Conan-Doyle and Houdini's widow.

    The question at the time wasn't so much, "What can science do?" as, "What can science NOT do?" It is utterly fascinating to wonder what went on during that summer. Lord Byron was a manic-depressive (vide "Touched With Fire" by Kay R. Jameson). Shelly was effete and almost a semi-mystic. Camille, I don't know anything about. Mary Shelley was the daughter of William Godwin, who had been inspired by the French revolution to write "Enquiry Concerning Social Justice" in 1793. He was kind of a pre-Marxist and believed the world was moving towards a perfect condition in which government would be unnecessary. (He got most of his notions from the Marquis de Condorcet who, ironically, was hiding from the revolutionary extremists who wanted to cut off his head for advocating such counter-revolutionary ideas as the abolition of the death penalty.)

    It's a terrific situation, and Ken Russel, through an excess of self indulgence, doesn't get the job done. What we see is at the same time boring, shocking, and irrelevant. I won't go on about this. The acting is okay, but everything else except the sets and photography are dismissible. The party guests drink wine laced with laudanum, an opiate, and then have horrifying hallucinations. When was the last time an opiate user experienced anything but pleasant, imaginative reveries and transient euphoria?

    Russel has people crawling around in the mud, eating rats, doing the vampire thing (how did that sneak in?), arguing and fighting with each other, and not having a good time at all. Jeeze, I'd never go to a party like that. (Been to too many already.) Natasha Richardson looks good and acts good, as always. I don't know why, with her talent, she didn't move farther up the ladder. Perhaps it's because she is merely attractive instead of drop-dead gorgeous thanks to fabulously expensive dentists. She put in a turn on one of those Jeremy Brett Sherlock Holmes series that was truly memorable. Sands looks properly wimpy as Shelley, a monstrously talented poet with colossal legs of clay. Nobody seems to know much about Camille, so it's okay that she looks like one of those black-and-blue Tijuana hookers with slightly jellied flesh. Actually I wouldn't mind biting her throat with my incisors myself.

    But, all seriousness aside, this is a ghastly movie. It's not fun at all. Boiled down, it's hardly a narrative, but rather a succession of increasingly revolting images -- of cockroaches, blood, rats. A bit of orgiastic sex might have saved it, but there's very little of that. I can't imagine to whom this movie is designed to appeal. What does the word "depraved" mean?