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57 of 60 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Lake Acid
Considering he's supposed to be 'obsessed with the image' Ken Russell's 'Gothic' is notable for what it leaves to the imagination. Russell is no tyro-hack; he's seen 'the Haunting' and 'the Innocents' and knows an in-tune audience will pick up subtle terrors which may (or may not) be glowering in dark corner...or in the dull recess of a guilty imagination.
Is that a...
Published on 1 Mar 2008 by Paul Ess.

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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars The movie is much better than the opening shot would make you believe..
I first found this movie on a $1 budget-DVD "Double Feature." I was very disappointed by Dolby's first chords because I thought they gave the film a very cheap, amateurish quality. Despite that fact, I think this is certainly worth a watch.

You may indeed have to know a bit about the people involved to truly appreciate it or maybe you can just enjoy it as a...
Published on 8 Jan 2010 by Yoga Punguin


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57 of 60 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Lake Acid, 1 Mar 2008
By 
This review is from: Gothic [DVD] (DVD)
Considering he's supposed to be 'obsessed with the image' Ken Russell's 'Gothic' is notable for what it leaves to the imagination. Russell is no tyro-hack; he's seen 'the Haunting' and 'the Innocents' and knows an in-tune audience will pick up subtle terrors which may (or may not) be glowering in dark corner...or in the dull recess of a guilty imagination.
Is that a branch scraping the window, or something much more sinister trying to gain access? Russell's anti-thriller gives no answers ~ even in a rather disquieting epilogue, where the excesses of the previous night are 'explained.'

Briefly: Don Boyd at Virgin Vision had a literate Steven Volk script on his hands. The core plot had Percy and Mary Shelley, Lord Byron, his pregnant lover Claire, and a snide, repressed biographer, Dr. Polidori, all spending Saturday night at a mansion in Geneva.
Thought Don: let's see what happens if we give 'em loads of drugs, vats of wine, throw in a thunder-storm, a haunting, some scene-stealing goats..and let 'em go.
Now, who do we get to direct? Hmm...

Russell doesn't disappoint (he NEVER does; all his films, good or bad, have got something of interest in them) and his puckish imagination is at full throttle here.
It's a memorably furious and gloriously upsetting picture. You can feel that creepiness as the protagonists decide to hold a séance: to beckon their darkest fears to exist in this world. Russell has a field day illustrating in detail what a houseful of stoned, tortured geniuses are afraid of (and capable of !) in the depths of their debasement, with their guard temporarily down.

One grotesque tableau follows another: Russell - up-front as usual - never makes it easy for the rattled viewer.
As to what's real and what's not, that's left open, as is the interpretation at the end. Was it really suggestion and hallucination?
This reviewer isn't convinced, and Russell's leaving only the vaguest of clues.

There are many redolent Russell repulses to rejoice in: a gory stigmata, a make-your-own-mind-up abortion, leeches, rats, incest, slime... In fact, if you can think of it, it's probably here; dowsed in Thomas Dolby's swanky score and competing like crazy with all the other fierce imagery.

There's an attractive funeral pyre sequence, filmed in the Lake District and involving Shelley.
In his autobiography, Russell indicates this is how he would ultimately like to be 'disposed' of. Good idea, better than cold earth; hope the weather's good so the 40 piece orchestra, assembled by Melvyn Bragg, don't get sodden as they play Liszt or the Who at full blast!

Performances are good: particularly Gabriel Byrne as 'mad' Lord Byron and Natasha Richardson as proto-feminist Mary Shelley (and I'd love to hear the advice mum Vanessa Redgrave gave her about working with Russell. She may proclaim 'the Devils' to be her best film, but she never worked with him again!), and I don't think Julian Sands performance as Shelley is as bad as reported, either. It's not great by any stretch, but I've seen worse and he IS playing a highly strung (out!?), self-suffering waif-in-a-storm, zonked out of his literary brains.

'Gothic' isn't Russell's best film but it is a good one. Compared to the output of most modern Hollywood directors, it's a masterpiece. It has wild imagery, some very tender and moving moments, but most of all it has an atmosphere of utter dread, created masterfully by a visionary who knows instinctively how to use light and shadow, sound and silence, and Richard Branson's money to make a loony entertainment about some of the worlds most respected and austere literary figures, verbally and physically abusing each other, ripping off their clothes, raising the dead and writhing round in slime.

A Ken Russell film, could it be anything else ?
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Incredible Film!!!!, 19 April 2011
By 
Choren "MB" (Mexico, D.F. Mexico) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Gothic [DVD] (DVD)
If you really know what does the genre gothic means, then you will love this film. Ken Russell depicts with images what Goya says in his engraving "The sleep of reason produces monsters". This film is an oniric voyage created by opium and by the characters' fears. Gothic, as literary critic Fred Botting describes: "signifies a writing of excess". This is what Russell does, a film full of excesses and of a constant battle between otherness. This in an excellent movie. I also recommend an excellent film full of gothic elements, Svankmajer's "Conspirators of Pleasure".
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Superb horror film, 17 Nov 2013
By 
M. Brookes - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Gothic [DVD] (DVD)
I've not watched this film in many years so I thought I'd give it another watch to see if it stands up and I'm pleased to say that it does. It's an unusual horror film that says more about the imagination and its ability to conjure terror, especially when helped by copious indulgence in opiates!

The film tells the story of a night hosted by Lord Byron when he is visited by his friend the poet Shelley and his mistress (later to become Mary Shelley), from this party two classics of the horror genre are spawned Polidori's 'The Vampire' and Shelley's 'Frankenstein'. The party starts with a sceance to create a ghost built from all of their personal fears. Their creation then haunts them through a horror filled night.

The characters are a joy to watch and are a mixed bunch, I always enjoy watching Gabriel Byrne in action and his ability to play dark characters works well with his portrayal of Lord Byron. The other charcters are fun as well, especially Shelley (although he does come across as a little overdramatic at times, but that does fit with the story and the role) and the Doctor is excellent as the weak link in the group.

The two female characters are less impressive, but still do their jobs well. The horror in the film touches on the metaphysical as well as the psychological and even better does not rely on gore or shock to get the message across. There's a definite sense of dread as the film gets going.

The one reall off note for me was the music, for some of the scenes (such as the barn) it's a little unimaginitive and seems at odds with style of the film. Still that's not a major issue and overall this is an excellent horror film.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars The movie is much better than the opening shot would make you believe.., 8 Jan 2010
This review is from: Gothic [DVD] (DVD)
I first found this movie on a $1 budget-DVD "Double Feature." I was very disappointed by Dolby's first chords because I thought they gave the film a very cheap, amateurish quality. Despite that fact, I think this is certainly worth a watch.

You may indeed have to know a bit about the people involved to truly appreciate it or maybe you can just enjoy it as a colorful, wild ride through bizarre places usually visited by only madmen, poets, and the intoxicated. Some reviewers complain about the incredible behavior of the characters but I've been around "stoned", pretentious, creative types. When someone else is paying the bills, much strangeness often ensues.

I would love to see this re-released with an orchestral score instead of Dolby's synthesizer music.

I bought this here because my cheap version has no subtitles and the picture quality is terrible. I'll watch it as soon as I finish typing this. The delivery was pretty quick - I live in the States - and the price was very fair.
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9 of 11 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Gothic fantasy, 2 Nov 2009
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This review is from: Gothic [DVD] (DVD)
Paul Ess has described this movie in detail, so my take on it will be more impressionistic.
Gothic is shot as a dream: a nightmare. In this respect it works well, it seems like a dream, it's a series of images/episodes that seem to point to a common theme - the inspiration for Mary Shelley's Frankenstein.
It is a sumptuous production: fabulous stately home with doric columns, rich red drapes, roaring fires, wine, high ceilings, ornate furnishings, dark shadows: it's an orgy of opulence. Ken Russell is very good at 'orgies' in a cinematic context.
However, Byron did not seem very Byronesque in Gothic, and there was far too much blood (seems to be an obsession of Ken's in this movie!).
And just as the dreams and fantasies were coming to an end, and I was waiting for a conclusion, the movie comes to an abrupt termination - did Ken run out of cash or inspiration!?
So, it's a great romp but it's an unfinished symphony...
JP :)
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Great film but why the second rate video transfer Amazon?, 2 Mar 2014
This review is from: Gothic (Amazon Instant Video)
Fantastic film but why oh why the second rate 4:3 video transfer? Please oh please get with it Amazon and upgrade.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great movie from famous director, 8 May 2011
By 
Mr. J. M. Zielinski "Cabal" (Oxford, England) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Gothic [DVD] (DVD)
Very lucid, surreal and frantic at times, portrays one of most important moments in history of fantastic literature. Symbolic, with unique visions (which is Russel's trademark). Good acting, including late Natasha Richardson and Julian Sands. Shame this is only "bare-bones" edition, with no extras added - I believe they exist, or may be created one day? Anyway, one of best horror-related British movies of 80's.
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1.0 out of 5 stars Dated, 18 May 2014
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This review is from: Gothic [DVD] (DVD)
Really dated. Lots of dramatic techniques and clichéd imagery which were abandoned decades ago. I've no doubt it was cutting edge when it was made, but it hasn't stood the test of time in my view.

Ended up forwarding fast through the broody bits, and then giving up on it altogether.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Typical OTT Ken Russell, 19 Aug 2013
By 
Opusmalone (Lived everywhere) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Gothic [DVD] (DVD)
An excellent film in many regards. Fiction often gets nearer the truth of an historical event or situation because it commits itself to an experience of it, not a chronology of facts.
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3.0 out of 5 stars Gothic, 15 April 2013
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I'd seen it before when it first came out and had to add it to my Byrne collection. Not his strongest film and you have to forgive it's 80s cinema, that said I still enjoy it and glad to have it in my collection.
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Gothic [DVD]
Gothic [DVD] by Ken Russell (DVD - 2005)
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