Director – Ken Russell (The Lair of the White Worm, The Devils)
Starring – Gabriel Byrne (Ghost Ship, End of Days), Julian Sands (Warlock, Arachnophobia), and Natasha Richardson (Nell, The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes)
Release Date – 1986
Rating – 2.5/5
Blu Release – 3.5/5
Horror has many legends ranging from historical to fictitious. Horror history has many legends like that of Vlad the Impaler and Baron de Rais along with many fictitious like Bram Stoker’s Dracula and Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein. Both are literary masterpieces that have stood the test of time with Shelley’s work being one of the first horror films ever made by the Edison Company.
Her work, which was controversial during it’s release, was almost as controversial as Shelley herself. During her life she visited Lord Byron at Villa Diodati and the two wrote their iconic stories Frankenstein and The Vampyre. A few months ago Vestron Video released the film adaptation of their meeting from 1986 titled Gothic on blu. I was lucky enough to get a review copy.
**Spoiler Alert**The film follows intellectuals Lord Byron (Byrne), Percy Shelley (Sands), Mary Shelley (Richardson), Claire Clairmont (Myriam Cyr), and Dr. John Polidori (Timothy Spall). The meet at Villa Diodati where Lord Byron was staying unannounced. They partake in drink and opium resulting in several hallucinations before all their fears and sexual desires are bought out in the open before them. **Spoiler Alert**
As much as I love what Mary Shelley created and the legacy that story has within the horror community I have to admit that I have very little interest in her personal life. The exploits of the elite and their hardships after drug abuse is not interesting to me. I was curious to see Gothic would handle this literary historic moment.
The acting in this one is damn near perfect. I have seen so many horror films this year that had amazing casts but this film was delightful to watch. Byrne and Timothy Spall were fantastic but the highlight of the film is Warlock’s Julian Sands who not only steals the show but shows why he is the right man for the job. The entire cast was fantastic and I could spend all day going over the cast.
The story for this one is a bit of a slow burner. You feel invested in the story because of the characters but the film does move at a snails pace. The cast is able to bring the scenes to life because the story is pretty much just a longwinded encounter of a night of debauchery. The film does have some aspects that could be deemed horror but calling this a horror film is a bit of a stretch. A dark drama is the best way to describe this one.
Finally, if you want gore you are in the wrong place. The film has very little blood and no real effects. Instead, it relies on story and the cast to carry the film. Overall, Gothic may have a forgettable story but the cast is unforgettable. The movie is far from perfect but you still have a great time with this one on. Check it out on blu from Vestron Video.
The Soul of Shelley Featurette
Fear Iteself Featurette
One Rainy Day Featurette