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 ... See full summary »



(story), (story) | 1 more credit »

Watch Now

From $7.99 on Amazon Video

2 wins & 1 nomination. See more awards »



Learn more

People who liked this also liked... 

Lisztomania (1975)
Biography | Comedy | Fantasy
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.5/10 X  

A send-up of the bawdy life of Romantic composer/piano virtuoso Franz Liszt, with ubiquitous phallic imagery and a good portion of the film devoted to Liszt's "friendship" with fellow ... See full summary »

Director: Ken Russell
Stars: Roger Daltrey, Sara Kestelman, Paul Nicholas
Biography | Comedy | Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.6/10 X  

Late on Guy Fawkes Day, 1892, Oscar Wilde arrives at a high-class brothel where a surprise awaits: a staging of his play "Salome," with parts played by prostitutes, Wilde's host, his lover ... See full summary »

Director: Ken Russell
Stars: Glenda Jackson, Stratford Johns, Nickolas Grace
Comedy | Horror
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 5.8/10 X  

Scottish archaeologist Angus Flint discovers an odd skull amid the ruins of a convent that he is excavating. Shortly thereafter, Lady Sylvia Marsh returns to Temple House, a nearby mansion,... See full summary »

Director: Ken Russell
Stars: Amanda Donohoe, Hugh Grant, Catherine Oxenberg
The Rainbow (1989)
Action | Drama | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.3/10 X  

A young woman deals in her own personal way with the trials of adolescence and young adulthood in early 1900s England.

Director: Ken Russell
Stars: Sammi Davis, Amanda Donohoe, Paul McGann
Drama | Romance | Thriller
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.3/10 X  

The thirty year-old hard-worker Bobby Grady is married with two children with the frigid Amy Grady and their marriage is in crisis. Bobby is invited to work in the night shift for the owner... See full summary »

Director: Ken Russell
Stars: Kathleen Turner, Anthony Perkins, Bruce Davison
Mahler (1974)
Biography | Drama | Music
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.2/10 X  

Both trifles and structure are tossed out the door by director Ken Russell in this film. Here, historical content matters not so much as metaphors, feelings, emotions, and interpretations, ... See full summary »

Director: Ken Russell
Stars: Robert Powell, Georgina Hale, Lee Montague
Biography | Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.1/10 X  

Biographical film of the life of French sculptor Henri Gaudier-Brzeska.

Director: Ken Russell
Stars: Dorothy Tutin, Scott Antony, Helen Mirren
Biography | Drama | Music
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.2/10 X  

Piano teacher Peter Ilych Tchaikovsky struggles against his homosexuality by marrying, but unfortunately he chooses a nymphomaniac whom he cannot satisfy.

Director: Ken Russell
Stars: Richard Chamberlain, Glenda Jackson, Max Adrian
Whore (1991)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 5.5/10 X  

The prostitute Liz works on the streets of Los Angeles. She recalls her life in flashback, when she marries an alcoholic man. She leaves him with their son. Then she works as waitress in a ... See full summary »

Director: Ken Russell
Stars: Theresa Russell, Benjamin Mouton, Antonio Fargas
The Devils (1971)
Drama | History
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.8/10 X  

In 17th-century France, Father Urbain Grandier seeks to protect the city of Loudun from the corrupt establishment of Cardinal Richelieu. Hysteria occurs within the city when he is accused of witchcraft by a sexually repressed nun.

Director: Ken Russell
Stars: Vanessa Redgrave, Oliver Reed, Dudley Sutton
Horror | Sci-Fi | Thriller
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.9/10 X  

A Harvard scientist conducts experiments on himself with a hallucinatory drug and an isolation chamber that may be causing him to regress genetically.

Director: Ken Russell
Stars: William Hurt, Blair Brown, Bob Balaban
Comedy | Musical | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.9/10 X  

The assistant stage manager of a small-time theatrical company (Polly Browne) is forced to understudy for the leading lady (Rita) at a matinée performance at which an illustrious Hollywood ... See full summary »

Director: Ken Russell
Stars: Twiggy, Christopher Gable, Max Adrian


Cast overview, first billed only:
Myriam Cyr ...
Alec Mango ...
Pascal King ...
Tom Hickey ...
Tour Guide
Linda Coggin ...
Turkish Mechanical Woman
Kristine Landon-Smith ...
Mechanical Woman
Chris Chappell ...
Man in Armour (as Chris Chappel)
Mark Pickard ...
Young William
Fuseli Monster


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. Written by Susan Southall <>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


Conjure up your deepest, darkest fear... now call that fear to life.




R | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:





Release Date:

10 April 1987 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Готика  »

Box Office


$916,172 (USA)

Company Credits

Production Co:

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:



Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


Last film of Alec Mango. See more »


Claire Clairmont (Myriam Cyr) falls out of the rowboat in the opening scene, but just a few seconds later, as she's running with Percy toward the house, her clothes and hair are totally dry. See more »


[first lines]
Tour Guide: And there, ladies and gentlemen, on the other side of the lake we have the famous Villa Diodati where Lord Byron, greatest living English poet, resides in exile. Romantic, scholar, duelist, best-selling author of Childe Harold, he was forced to leave his native land after many scandals including incest and adultery with Lady Caroline Lamb. "Mad, bad and dangerous to know" she called him.
[the guide squeezes a lady's hand and points]
Tour Guide: Bedroom - top right.
See more »


Referenced in The All New Alexei Sayle Show: Episode #1.2 (1994) See more »


Sonata in D Major (L463)
Music by Domenico Scarlatti
Arranged and Performed by Gaynor Sadler and Tony Sadler
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

This FAQ is empty. Add the first question.

User Reviews

Evocative and nightmarish-like retelling of the creation of a literary classic
3 June 2008 | by (United Kingdom) – See all my reviews

It must be said, I love the work of Ken Russell. If he were of any other nationality or generation he'd be subject to a veritable tome of critical analysis; with amazing films like Elgar (1962), The Debussy Film (1965), Women in Love (1969), The Devils (1971) and Savage Messiah (1972) all standing out as some of the most radical, imaginative and visually impressive feature films of the last fifty years. Too often his excesses got the better of him, as in films such as Lisztomania (1975), The Lair of the White Worm (1987) and Salome's Last Dance (1988), but despite the overall quality of those films, the results were always interesting and visually unforgettable. Gothic (1986) has much in common with the latter collection of works, being somewhat messy and decadent whilst still trying to remain somewhat conventional in its approach to character and narrative. It is this aspect of the film that is the weakest, with the story and the characterisation often feeling somewhat weak or unformed, particularly in the first half. However, once the film gets going - and the wild images and hallucinations begin to accumulate - Russell's energetic style and talent for creating outré and unforgettable visual compositions and ideas really begins to take off; creating a film that is fascinating and open to deeper interpretations regarding the character of Mary Shelley and the unfortunate circumstances of her life that may have led to the creation of her classic and iconic horror story, Frankenstein.

Naturally, the roots of the film are based in fact, taking place in June of 1816 - the "year without summer" - when the five central characters met at Lord Byron's Villa Diodati by Lake Geneva. From here, the film creates a fictional back-story to the wet and windy night that would give birth, not only to Shelley's Frankenstein, but also Polidori's celebrated novel, The Vampyre. What follows is a bizarre and overwhelming example of pure visual storytelling, which is all the more impressive when you take into account the obviously limited budget. However, if you can overcome this aspect - as well as the rather poor performances from Julian Sands as the exaggerated Percy Shelley and Myriam Cyr as Mary's half-sister Claire Clairmont - then the film will reward with a truly astounding final act filled with Russell's typically surreal and lurid imagery, an escalating sense of fever-dream-like horror and exaggeration and the three fine performances from Gabriel Byrne as the seductive Lord Byron, Natasha Richardson as the tortured Mary Shelly and Timothy Spall as the beleaguered Dr. John William Polidori. The tension is also heightened by the choice of location, with the film taking place almost entirely within the Byron estate, and almost entirely at night; although there are two separate framing devises, one of which takes place in the present-day and helps clarify some of the scenarios depicted in the film's aforementioned final act.

These don't necessarily add much to the story - though neither do they detract - simply giving a certain sense of context before Russell gets on with the mind-blowing imagery and finely tuned atmosphere of eroticised dread. Some have likened the film to Dario Argento's classic supernatural thriller Suspiria (1977), with the use of Gothic locations, bold colours and a self-consciously visual approach to storytelling. These similarities stand, though you can also see the film as an extension of the earlier Altered States (1980) and Crimes of Passion (1984); both in certain thematic preoccupations, and in the actual visual presentation overall. The film works simply because of the intensity of the images, but ultimately going deeper than even that; tying the whole thing into the character of Mary Shelley and her own sense of personal tragedy. It gives the film that much needed emotional quality, helped along by the fine performance from the incredibly young Richardson in one of her first leading roles. She's complimented well by Byrne, who takes the role of Byron entirely seriously, even when spouting some incredibly pretentious dialog and attempting to seduce every character in the film. Nonetheless, the intensity of the role shines through and really establishes the character, with his fears and weaknesses going towards the creation of his own personal nightmare that will reverberate through time.

The film suggests that by raising the spirits of the dead you fate yourself to an inescapable evil. This is reflected by the tragic circumstances that surrounded the characters - hinted at in that tour-de-force final - and their eventual fate as documented by history itself. It's very clever once you get past the awkward, slightly giddy and anachronistic-like feeling of the first few scenes and really get into the horror aspect and the more much rewarding sense of human interest. Naturally, it won't be to all tastes, as the factors that Russell tends to highlight in his work - religious symbolism, garishness, sex and sensuality, brutality and anachronistic humour - will obviously cause problems for viewers looking for a more conventional "horror" story. I liked the break in convention, though. After all, there are plenty of horror films that regurgitate the same old stock tactics and scenarios. Gothic goes for a different approach; one that is more eccentric, single-minded and unique, layering the fact and fantasy elements of Stephen Volk's imaginative screenplay with a lurid and sensational approach to the visual telling of the story, rife with his usual themes and obsessions. If you love Russell's work, and appreciate interesting and unconventional cinema, then Gothic is well worth checking out; if not for the bizarre visual aspects and exciting, nightmarish final, then certainly for the nicely judged performances of Richardson, Byrne and Spall.

17 of 20 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

Message Boards

Recent Posts
Really Bad grilka2000
The most bizzare movie in history? jord3nsn0h
Some movies are better when you're under the influence petestubbs
A similar movie with Julian Sands richarde_t
soundtrack?? myysharona
Lighting in Billard Room geniusloci
Discuss Gothic (1986) on the IMDb message boards »

Contribute to This Page

Create a character page for: