Gothic (1986) (Collector’s Edition) (Blu-ray Review)
Directed By: Ken Russell
Starring: Gabriel Byrne, Julian Sands, Natasha Richardson
Rated: R/Region A/1:85/1080p/Number of Discs 1
Available from Lionsgate Films
The 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.
If you’ve never seen a Ken Russell movie before then you probably have no idea what you are getting yourself into with Gothic, which visually might be the tamest of his films I’ve seen. Yes, a movie where a woman’s breast turns into eye’s might be the least craziest thing I’ve seen from a Ken Russell movie. We have the story here of the Shelleys as they visit some folks and end up in what you could probably call a living Hell on earth. Things hit a downward spiral with the group in the film and the later in the night it goes the most horrific things get for the people on the screen. Visually this movie is about what I was expecting going into it. You can’t say that things will always make the most sense on the screen, but you can say that you will at least be unable to turn away from what you are seeing because it’ll be so crazy or weird that you just can’t bring yourself to turn away from it. The story overall is what it is, but the visuals usually make up for any slow moments you see in the film.
Acting wise this one is a pretty top-notch movie. The late and pretty great Natasha Richardson does a fine job in this one playing the role of Mary Shelley. She really stands out here in a very good way and takes the center stage when we see her on the screen. The film looks a little dated and it isn’t the most popping transfer we’ve ever seen at some points, but the movie looks fine for what it is. Any close-up looks outstanding. And we do get some cool extras that I will list below making it about on par with every other Vestron Video release we’ve seen on Blu-ray. Gothic might be a bit of a key-lime pie of a film and it might not do enough for some folks, but I enjoyed it and I think it just helps show how good of a director Ken Russell really was.
– Audio Commentary with Lili Russell, in conversation with film historian Matthew Melia
– Isolated Score Selections and Audio Interview with Composer Thomas Dolby
– The Soul of Shelley with Actor Julian Sands
– Fear Itself with Screenwriter Stephen Volk
– One Rainy Night with Director of Photography Mike Southon
– Theatrical Trailer
– Still Gallery
– TV Spot