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Gothic: Vestron Video Collector's Series Blu-ray

3 beersAnarchy and hedonism!  The Romantic writers, according to this fictionalized account of the creation of Shelley's Frankenstein and Polidari's The Vampyre, were a bunch of cock-gobbling druggies.  This is probably true.  And, as the sex is as rampant as the wild visual – which includes a dairy goat that is need of milking and a knight with armor shaped around his erection – we are left with one hell of a consequential revelry.

Party games.  Everyone plays Lord Byron’s party games.  Whether it is a rather randy game of hide-and-seek in his twisted creature-filled Villa Diodati in Switzerland or a simple test of wills through the regular drip-drip-drip of laudanum sips, director Ken Russell’s Gothic is one twisted tale of the Victorian age and, because Russell doesn’t make simple movies, the film’s visuals are artsy, horrible, and always engaging.  And it features a naked Julian Sands standing on the roof challenging the lightning that is threatening to strike around him.

Gothic, for those who do not know of the film’s twisted take on the events that led to the writing of Frankenstein, is a movie that concerns itself with a gathering of creative types – Claire Clairmont (Myriam Cyr), Mary Godwin (Natasha Richardson) and her future husband Percy Shelley (the aforementioned Sands) – at Lord Byron’s Switzerland home.  Byron (Gabriel Byrn) is already out of his mind; he is often drunk and always stoned.  His home is big and wild and full of surprises.

The weirdest of the weird is also there: Dr. John Polidori (Timothy Spall) who strikes a vogue pose after delivering each and every single one of his fatal quips about the evening’s events.  He comes across to viewers like Renfield to Count Dracula and, especially when at the piano together, the sensitive slave aspect is definitely palpable. 

All of this hallucinatory madness is right up Russell’s alley.  He is, after all, the director that brought us Tommy, The Lair of the White Worm, and Altered States.  Here, he gets free range to explore what could have happened that fateful vacation of the minds.    

It seems that everyone is just mad for Byron.   Everyone.  Including the staff.  And Byrne, in the role that won him a hefty amount of praise via International Fantasy Film Awards nominations, just eats it up and spits out one hell of a memorable performance.  But, honestly, the film buckles under the weight of the maddening visuals.  It comes across like some mad ride at the circus, spilling every which way as it recreates the settings that gave birth to the monsters that still lurk in the shadows of our imagination. 

Gothic is a horror film that is bold and shocking in its visuals; it might not even be written or rehearsed because so much of it feels – like the score from Thomas Dolby – off the cuff and carries a certain type of incoherent genius that feels oh so very spur-of-the-moment.    The film is now on blu-ray as a part of the ongoing (and successful) Vestron Video Collector’s Series. 

Russell’s movie is loopy as hell and, yes, it is often criticized for being uneven and unnaturally hyper in its performances and its visuals but, hell, that’s the only mad genius worth celebrating.


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Gothic: Vestron Video Collector's Series Blu-ray

MPAA Rating: R.
87 mins
: Ken Russell
Stephen Volk
Gabriel Byrne, Julian Sands, Natasha Richardson
: Horror
Conjure up your deepest, darkest fear... now call that fear to life.
Memorable Movie Quote: "And here I thought you that contradiction in terms: an intelligent woman!"
Theatrical Distributor:
Vestron Pictures
Official Site:
Release Date:
April 10, 1987
DVD/Blu-ray Release Date:
January 30, 2018
Synopsis: 1816. A sprawling villa in Switzerland is the setting for the night of the “Haunted Summer,” when five famous friends gather around an ancient skull to conjure up their darkest fears. Poets Lord Byron and Percy Shelley; Shelley’s fiancée, Mary Godwin; Mary’s stepsister, Claire Clairmont; and Byron’s friend, Dr. John Polidori, spend a hallucinogenic evening confronting their fears in an orgiastic frenzy of shock lunacy that later inspired Mary Shelley to write the classic FRANKENSTEIN and Dr. Polidori to pen THE VAMPYRE, which became the basis for the creation of Dracula. One fateful evening, two legends were born, in Ken Russell’s GOTHIC.


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Gothic: Vestron Video Collector's Series Blu-ray


Blu-ray Details:

Home Video Distributor: Lionsgate Films
Available on Blu-ray
- January 30, 2018
Screen Formats: 1.85:1
: English SDH
English: DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0
Discs: Blu-ray Disc; single disc
Region Encoding: Locked to Region A

Offered courtesy of Lionsgate Films and its new handling of the Vestron Video imprint in 1.85:1, the AVC-encoded 1080p transfer is a relative goldmine of previously unseen details and colors. This is EASILY the best the film has ever (and probably will) look. The details in the rooms of both the villa and the surrounding fields are strong. The clothing and some of period piece furniture items are a reason to appreciate the visual “pop” throughout the high definition transfer, too. Hell, even the hallucinations look solid. The atmosphere is especially nice. The crisp image quality is the best you’re going to get with a film like this and, admittedly, even a bit better than expected. Some stuff from the same era hasn’t made the HD transition quite as well, but Gothic looks much, much better than expected. Colors are perfect. Blacks are solid. Skin tones are detailed and appropriate. The original 2.0 Stereo Audio is included, as well as DTS-HD Master Audio and Dolby Audio.



  • This release features an audio commentary with Lisi Russell, in conversation with Film Historian Matthew Melia.

Special Features:

Vestron Video Collector’s Series presents Gothic with a limited edition Blu-ray that is packed with NEW interviews with its cast, a NEW audio commentary, an isolated score selection, and NEW discussions with the crew.  It is worth the price.

  • Isolated Score Selections and Audio Interview with Composer Thomas Dolby
  • Interviews with Actor Julian Sands, Screenwriter Stephen Volk, and Director of Photography Mike Southon
  • Theatrical trailer
  • TV Spot
  • Still Gallery


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Gothic: Vestron Video Collector's Series Blu-ray