Ken Russell delivers another case of style over substance in this opium-induced hallucination. Mary Shelley and others gather at Lord Byron's country estate, where they indulge in sexual fantasies, drugs, and ghastly storytelling. Their fun and games turn into lurid nightmares when they are overcome by visual manifestations of their twisted tales. GOTHIC is strictly over the top from start to finish, with outrageous characters and dialogue that are stretched far beyond their limit. It is a circus act of sexual debauchery and dark Gothic imagery trapped in a lavish mansion setting. Russell carries over many of the strange and twisted visuals that he popularized in ALTERED STATES and would carry into LAIR OF THE WHITE WORM the following year, but it is impossible to derive much more meaning out of the overt psycho-sexual metaphors than the obvious in this overstated film. Still, it is a visually stimulating and visceral viewing experience, and many fans will revel in the flamboyant performances of its frilly characters. If you can find a decent copy, GOTHIC is definitely worth checking out, but avoid the inaudible and worn public domain copies that make it nearly impossible to watch.
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