Friday, November 21, 2008


(1986) ***


I just had to get that out of my system, a deep breath, a sigh of relief and on to the review.

The story is supposedly derived from actual events, which took place at Lord Byron’s Swiss villa on the night of June 16, 1816. Byron's guests include poet Percy Shelley and his future wife Mary, Mary's half-sister Claire and physician Dr. John Polidori. This was allegedly the evening that inspired Mary Shelly’s “Frankenstein” and Polidori’s “The Vampyre”.

Byron has invited them to a unique night of horror and mayhem induced by laudanum and other hallucinogens. After telling ghost stories they trot off into the mysterious corridors of his mansion. The guests wind up face to face with live interpretations of their own fears and anxieties. They spend the rest of the night confronting these personal manifestations.

Director Ken Russell first drew me into his trippy little world in 1980 with Altered States. This movie fascinated me, not in a ‘I wanna take magic mushrooms and lay in an isolation tank til I regress to my birth’ sorta way. It was more like the effectiveness of actually reproducing that surreal perspective that the world takes on when viewed through a mind clouded with hallucinogenic. I found this feeling again in Gothic.

This film is not for everyone, and I find that anyone I’ve spoke to that has seen it has either got it or didn’t follow it at all. Admittedly, it’s confusing as all hell and very hard to follow. It’s like he threw in random weirdness to keep your head in that swimmy surreal state. This isn’t a bad thing if you just roll with the flow and stop trying to make sense of it all. Eventually it all comes together and leaves you with an unsatisfied feeling of bleak resolve.

If you had asked me about this film 20 years ago I would have given it a 5 star rating and highly recommended it. Now, I have to say that for me it’s somehow lost quite a bit of its attraction and actually was rather boring for the most part. Is that a sign that I’m getting old?


JPX said...

Congrats, Catfreek, you did an awesome job with Horrorthon! I'm jealous that you finished your reviews. I need to get my butt in gear and get the rest of mine out.

Catfreeek said...

I just had to get them done. I felt like it was poking at my brain every day and now that feeling is gone. I'm just left with a pleasant sense of accomplishment that makes my insides feel all warm and fuzzy.

Octopunk said...

That is a nice feeling. I'm looking forward to it.

I saw Gothic at the Avon Theater in Providence in 1987 and then again in 2004, and I had the same pair of reactions you did. Kind of silly, but still great.

Congratulations on an outSTANDING Horrorthon performance, and (looks at shoes) congrats on breaking my record of 98. Great work.

Johnny Sweatpants said...

Congratulations Catfreeek. You're completely insane. Well done old chap.

Johnny Sweatpants said...

To answer your final question - no you're not old, you're just not doing enough drugs.

Catfreeek said...

Well, as the children get older it gets harder to explain ones strange drug induced behavior. Especially when the kids have their own first experience. It's like a little light bulb snaps on over their heads and they say, "Aaaaahhh that explains that strange smell in the house and why Mom & Dad were laughing so hard."

DCD said...

You ROCKED the Horrorthon '08, Freeek! Ridiculously impressive effort. I, like JPX, am still wondering what alternate universe you pulled all these movies and screen shots from.

And, I LOVED Gothic!! I have seen that movie too many times to count. (Some high school phase, I'm sure.) Really fun flick.