Friday, July 2, 2010

Film Review: GOTHIC (1986, Ken Russell)

Stars: 4 of 5.
Running Time: 87 minutes.
Tag-line: "Conjure up your deepest, darkest fear... now call that fear to life."
Notable Cast or Crew: Gabriel Byrne (THE USUAL SUSPECTS, EXCALIBUR), Natasha Richardson (PATTY HEARST, THE COMFORT OF STRANGERS), Julian Sands (NAKED LUNCH, BOXING HELENA), Miriam Cyr (SPECIES II, I SHOT ANDY WARHOL), Timothy Spall (WHITE HUNTER, BLACK HEART; SECRETS & LIES), Kristine Landon-Smith (a playwright, and a mime in LIFEFORCE). Cinematography by Mike Southon (LITTLE MAN TATE, MXP- MOST XTREME PRIMATE). Music by Thomas Dolby (HOWARD THE DUCK, ROCKULA). Production design by Christopher Hobbs (ARIA, THE NEON BIBLE).
Best one-liner: "And here I thought you that contradiction in terms: an intelligent woman!"

Somewhere in a darkened alleyway, populated by men in trench coats and festering piles of garbage:

"Pssst– hey buddy. You like train wrecks?"
–"Watcha got?"
"Got a couple'a lesser De Palmas, some Alex Cox, a few Doris Wishmans, I even got STEEL, with Shaquille O'Neal."
–"Eh, maybe something more high-brow."
"Are you kidding me, man? De Palma ain't high-brow enuff for ya? Have you seen MISSION TO MARS?"
–"Look, I gotta go. I really can't be seen here."
"Hey- not so fast- I got somethin' for ya- check it out, jack- some Bava."
–"Which one?"
–"I gotta go."
"N-n-no- wait! I got some second-tier Nic Roegs."
–"I said, no thanks."
"Hold it right there! I've got the ticket– Ken Russell. Feast your eyes on GOTHIC..."

–"Hmmm. Now that looks intriguing."
"Shit yes, it looks intriguing. You like Mary Shelley? FRANKENSTEIN? Lord Byron? Speculative historical fiction?"
–"That's what this movie is about? I mean, I guess I'm in the mood for something high-brow, but it sounds a touch stuffy."
"Eh, put that out of your mind for a segundo. Lemme rephrase those questions. You like gory, sexualized Christian imagery? You like maggots? You like fish flapping around in empty birdbaths, goats at the top of the stairs, barking dogs, muddy skulls, symmetrical compositions, and lots and lots of SNAKES?"
–"Now you're talkin' my language! But how does Lord Byron play into this?"
"Forget that Romantic poetry shit. THIS Lord Byron's the sleazemastah-general. Dude was a total fiend. Satanism, hallucinogenic drugs, beatin' the shit out of people who gave him lip. Ladies, even. Especially ladies."
–"I believe those were merely salacious rumors circulated by the jealousy-stricken Lady Caroline Lamb."
"No way. Dude was a dick. His friends show up at his mansion, and he's all like 'That you should follow me one thousand miles says something about you... and something about ME.'

He even had a lewd Turkish belly-dancing robot-mannequin, if you can wrap your head around that."

–"Oh, wow. This sounds pretty good."
"And it is. It's just sorta unfocused. A good example is the cacophonous soundtrack, by Thomas Dolby. Imagine Aaron Copeland's RODEO battling Modest Mussorgsky's NIGHT ON BALD MOUNTAIN in an 80's big-time wrestling ring."
–"Hot damn!"
"Oh, but you ain't seen nothin' yet. It takes the whole 'haunted mansion' thing and runs with it. Like THE OLD DARK HOUSE meets HAUSU in a Rembrandt painting or somethin'.

Nonstop insanity. Byron's estate is like a psychotic's idea of a funhouse- labyrinthine, canted hallways; knights in shining armour- covered in snakes!; drugs and dildos and rats and fire and lightning and night terrors and blood-drinking and boobs with eyeballs for nipples and stigmata and seizures–"
–"Wait, I'm gonna be having seizures?"
"Well, no, not you– well, probably not you."
"Well, allow me to paraphrase Bill Macy in HOMICIDE: 'It's better than an aquarium- there's somethin' happenin' every minute.'"
–"Alright. Sold. Sign me up."
"Good, good."
–"But this is the last time."
"Oh, yeah, I'm sure."
–"No, I'm serious."
"Well, the next time you need a Weng Weng flick or a Golan-Globus that never made it to DVD, somehow I think you'll still know where to find me..."
–"Yeh, yeh... "


Jason said...

"Hey- not so fast- I got somethin' for ya- check it out, jack- some Bava."
–"Which one?"
–"I gotta go."
"N-n-no- wait! I got some second-tier Nic Roegs."

Amazing. You owe me a new keyboard. :D

Sean Gill said...

Heh, right? "I got a little EUREKA, some TWO DEATHS, TRACK 29- hey I even got his ep of the YOUNG INDIANA JONES CHRONICLES. No takers? How 'bout FULL BODY MASSAGE?"

GuyR said...

Oi mate, did you get my message about D'WIld Wild Weng?
God stuff, but the overdose isn't very far with that kind of product.

Sean Gill said...

Yes, indeed I did– and a Weng Weng multi-day bender shall be commencing forthwith!

GuyR said...