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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 <email@example.com>
The painting that Mary Shelley sees on the wall, and that subsequently comes to life in her dream, is Johann Heinrich Fuessli's "Nightmare." See more »
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]
Bedroom - top right.
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As this film seemed to be the first film (that I could find anyway) to describe how Mary Shelley came up with the idea for Frankenstein (published in 1818), I must give some consideration. However, the pains the film goes through in depicting a drug-induced, nightmarish landscape of horrors, is too far gone.
Laudenaum, a popular hallucinogenic drug during the 19th century, brings to life the imagination of five manic individuals: Lord Byron, his physician Dr. Polidori, Percy Shelley, Mary Shelley, and Claire Claremont (Mary's half sister). When Lord Byron challenges them all to come up with the most horrific tale they can muster, each cultivate his/her own macabre web of self-torture.
This film, in an attempt to show the frantic workings of the mind, comes off as merely comical at times. Some of the scenes, which are intended to shock and convey horror, seemed to simply repel. Gabriel Byrne aptly plays the decadent Lord Byron, but his character is overly vicious and twisted. Julian Sands plays Percy Shelley, who is like a lunatic pedant at best. If you can figure out one thing he says, as he seems to spout "non-sensical intelligence" (if there is such a thing), then kudos to you. Natasha Richardson does well in playing Mary Shelley, although the described "free love" she was supposedly a participant in I think was a bit of a stretch in this movie and could have been left out.
I must admit, for all the reviews I read of the film, I expected more of a punch and more of a meat-and-potatoes thriller story. This film did little but disorient using a sexually-hedonistic Rubix cube. Perhaps that was the director's intention, but the film did little in translating its horror and madness to its characters. Thomas Dolby's score just grates the disorientation further into the bone.
I will give the director credit for doing his homework in researching the odd amount of death that seemed to riddle Mary Shelley's biography. The marriage of Frankenstein's creation to this aspect as being nothing ironic is quite clever. All in all, I just think a better job could have been done with a brilliant idea. And somebody please give Julian Sands a role where he is not a blithering crybaby! 4/10
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