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Haunted Summer More at IMDbPro »

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17 out of 19 people found the following review useful:

The Best Summer of 1816 movie out there!

Author: Shayde9 from Corpus Christi, Texas
26 July 1999

The first time my best friend and I sat down to watch this movie, we were watching it for Alex Winter of "Bill & Ted's" fame. We didn't know what to expect other than who and what it was about.

By the time the movie was over, we knew that it was love at first sight. This movie, while not completely historically accurate, was and is the best one of its genre. I have seen other movies depicting the history of this famous summer and in my opinion, none of the others can compare. It fibbed a little at certain details, but those parts did not take away from the sheer elegance and romance of the story. I have seen the other movies about this summer and I find most of them to be good, but none as captivating as this one.

"Haunted Summer" has the qualities of a painting. The colors and settings seem to be something one would find on a canvas, framed and hung in a museum or on the walls of an eccentric's home. The costumes were gorgeous and, despite not being the most comfortable clothes in the world, made me want to find a seamstress to create such garb for myself. The whole movie was set on the picturesque Lake Geneva (where I hope to one day go because of seeing this movie) and the serenity that these historical figures found there.

This movie shows, besides the tranquility found by all the escapees of England's harsh judgements, the strangeness that surrounded this adventure as well. Yes, there were drugs. It was a fairly common practice during that time, a time when drugs were not illegal. And the taking of laudanum (the liquid form of opium) was medicinal as well as recreational. Shelley suffered from consumption. Lord Byron suffered the pains of a clubbed foot. It was not surprising that there would be prescriptions of the strong drugs that were in their possession during that summer. And they were poets during a time when experience was the key. There was no time for prudish caution. Passion and experience were a big part of the Romantic Era. And out of the thoughts and discussions of science, religion and philosophy came the creation of a legend: "Frankenstein."

Yes, in this movie, we see the beautiful and liberated Mary Godwin (not married to Shelley at that time) played by beautiful and talented Alice Krige. She is the control factor to all that goes on until she, too, gives in to experience. But she stands her ground and experiences things on her own terms. As was the strength that she inherited from her mother and father.

The actors and actresses in this were perfect for the parts they played. The music fitting. The direction captured the essence of the summer, as I've read about it. This movie was based on a wonderful book "Haunted Summer" by Anne Edwards. If you like this movie, read the book. The author takes the story from what she was able to put together from the actual journals of Mary Godwin Shelley and the other participants of this story.

If you are a person who loves history (even the little inaccuracies from time to time) and romance and the gothic, then this is a movie for you. It shows the birth of the birth of the monster, which even today teaches us about the morals of "playing God."

A definite must see movie!

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15 out of 17 people found the following review useful:


Author: jtbe from Illinois
31 May 1999

I first saw this on TV in the early 90's and was obsessed with finding it so I could tape it. I dwelled on it and searched and finally found it at a library and had a friend copy it. It was beautifully filmed and captivated me completely. I have watched it many times, each time was better than previously. I'm a 68 year old senior and am "haunted" by it. I only wonder how much, if any, truth is in it. I give it 10 out of 10; it was so mesmerizing.

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13 out of 16 people found the following review useful:

More interesting than you might imagine

Author: suessis
1 March 2003

While "Gothic" (Ken Russell's surprisingly good psychotic drug trip fantasy) has attracted more of a following, this film simply took a different route to chronicle the intensely powerful relationships that existed among this group of artists and writers.

Phillip Anglim's performance dominates every other. He grips the part of Byron with an iron hand and draws the viewer into this story. While, Alice Kreige and Eric Stolz also offer good performances they sometimes become lost in Anglim's. Alex Winter's and Laura Dern's sometimes seem to disappear into the scenery.

While this film is not exactly a masterpiece, it is worthy of more attention than it has had. It makes the lives of these people more accessible than "Gothic" did. It breathes life into people that Americans tend to view simply as moth eaten old poets with scandalous and mythical reputations who's work they are forced to read in school.

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7 out of 9 people found the following review useful:

Enchanting,beautiful,romantic telling of real life events.

Author: jeanne46205 from United States
14 June 2006

In this glorious telling of a weekend shared among literary greats. Mary and Percy Shelly,Lord Byron and others created a entrancing group. Showing their quests for sexual enlightenment. Personal freedoms from political to moral. Liberal drug use for both stimulations and as addiction. Their creative views of life and writing. Describing without boring the viewer how each writer seeks to find their muse. Along with the distractions and affections each share. With breathtaking scenery that does not detract but very much enhances the story. Well created characters from grim to loving then angry to peaceful. With some of the most lovely and scene enhancing costuming to be had.

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5 out of 6 people found the following review useful:

Fantastic Time Travel!

Author: tom-2608 from United States
4 August 2007

I have no idea what the other reviewer is talking about- this was a wonderful movie, and created a sense of the era that feels like time travel. The characters are truly young, Mary is a strong match for Byron, Claire is juvenile and a tad annoying, Polidori is a convincing beaten-down sycophant... all are beautiful, curious, and decadent... not the frightening wrecks they are in Gothic.

Gothic works as an independent piece of shock film, and I loved it for different reasons, but this works like a Merchant and Ivory film, and was from my readings the best capture of what the summer must have felt like. Romantic, yes, but completely rekindles my interest in the lives of Shelley and Byron every time I think about the film. One of my all-time favorites.

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3 out of 4 people found the following review useful:

A Romantic movie about the Romantics

Author: george karpouzas
15 March 2011

This movie which concerns the meeting of the two famous Romantic poets Shelley and Byron along with their entourages near the lake of Geneva, captures well the romantic and libertarian climate that our readings and imaginations lead us to associate with such an encounter. A true visionary company consisted by Byron and his personal physician Dr.Polidori as well as Shelley, his lover Mary Godwin, with whom she had eloped and who going latter to be his wife, and the latter's half-sister Claire are a fine team to spend something more than an hour and half with.

The characters are well developed and space and time is given to Dr.Polidori and Claire even if those were the ones that unlike the others posterity has not crowned with literary fame.Byron occupies center stage sometimes overacted by the otherwise very able Philip Anglim. He tries to keep up with his demonic image of the cursed poet as well as with that of a man who embraces the life-style of a 19nth century gentleman. Shelley is more ethereal more close to the image of Matthew Arnold of "A beautiful and ineffectual angel" although an angel occasionally prone to pranks in the expense of people that take themselves too seriously.Dr. Polidori is a sidekick to Byron, meant to suffer his ironic comments but also his lover. Claire is the sexy and liberated sister while Mary is thoughtful, commanding and introspective.

There is fine insertion of poetic extracts in the movie, very well crafted and not incongruous with the development of the plot. In the end the voice of Shelley is heard reading the conclusion of his poem "The Sensitive Plant" the meaning of which is very resonant with the content of the movie.

Costumes and scenery are charming and one thinks that he is in company with the 19nth century gentry. A very libertarian version of it actually with a tendency of long discussions over the table on the difficult topics of social justice and liberty while being served by servants in uniforms.

The personal relationships of the group are entangled to say the least but even if we allow for poetic license from the part of the director and the scenario, our sources of the real events tell us that was actually the case.

The element of the supernatural is both manifested and subverted as it is linked with nightmares and opium-produced hallucinations. But I think they fail to do justice to the moral and political problematics of Mary Shelley's Frankenstein novel, to the creation of which a text in the end of the movie refers along with the fates of the characters involved. If one watches the movie he may be left with the impression that Frankenstein is a horror story inspired by hallucinations and nightmares. It is not so, it is a story with horror elements but it is about hubris, justice, prejudice and lot of topics that where the staple of the Enlightenment along with the romantic fervor and touch that Mary Shelley added.

Inevitably the comparison with Ken Russell's film "Gothic" dealing with the same events and characters comes to mind. In my opinion and if different things can be graded this film is better or at least it is much nearer to the mental picture of the characters I have formed through the reading of their works and life-stories. The Romantics discussing and making verses by the lake is much more my piece of cake than the atmosphere of supernatural terror and licentious excess of Gothic. But this is a subjective opinion.

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1 out of 2 people found the following review useful:

Whereforartthou Haunted Summer???

Author: globalpoet from United Kingdom
13 September 2007

I would love to comment on this film. Alas , my search has always endeth in vain. If any good citizen could help a desperate inhabitant of this ailing planet and restore his confidence in humanity by offering the whereabouts of either a UK VHS or loan him a DVD copy of the VHS; he would, without reservation, be eternally grateful.....

Blake wrote "The road to excess is the path to wisdom", one hopes my weary road of excess will offer the path to fruition .... If not, I will have to replay the excellent Mr Russel's Gothic in the knowledge that those who have seen Haunted Summer (for better or for worse) have enriched their viewing pleasure of the events of July 1816 whilst I, a fellow member of this melodious plot, rests his lonely case in solitude ...

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1 out of 4 people found the following review useful:

Poetry and literature make horrific bedfellows.

Author: mark.waltz from United States
27 August 2013

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

To many, this tale of literary legends spending time together for a decadent summer of lustful pleasure which results in a drug induced nightmare will seem a pretentious bore. That is until they see Ken Russell's very bizarre rendition of the same story, "Gothic". Yes, these five characters seem a bit odd, and considering the fact that one of them wrote Frankenstein and was a woman, they really are. The sexual games they play with each other are at first amusing and eventually cruel, particularly the bi-sexual Philip Anglim (Alex Winter ) who cruelly taunts his male lover while seducing the horny love starved Laura Dern.

While the lovely Alice Krige is perfectly acceptable as the intelligent Mary Shelley, Eric Stoltz seems miscast as Lord Byron Shelley. His Michael Jackson like voice makes the character's romantic appeal very doubtful. The dour Anglim, hosting the summer party, is certainly not an ideal host, his anti-women theories eye-raising and his appeal to either sex iffy save the self-loathing twosome he manages to bed here. The horror sequences are certainly worth a few good nightmares. Physical production is certainly lovely, but truly ugly characters dominate the tale.

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7 out of 22 people found the following review useful:

Why oh why did I rent this???

Author: xirtam from USA
13 July 1999

I read the back of the box and it talked about Mary Shelley and Percy Shelley and Lord Byron. I thought, "wonderful! This will be great!" I was so wrong. The story was all screwed up. In fact I still don't get it. It just seems to me that all the characters did was drink, smoke (opium?) and have sex. Not that those aren't good movie qualities, but please! Where was the story? I made myself finish the movie, and yes, it did pick up towards the end, but by then the movie was almost over. Rent it if you really want to. Just don't trust the back of the box.

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4 out of 23 people found the following review useful:

Waste of Time

Author: ravcon from Charlotte, NC
27 July 2004

Don't waste your time on this dreck. As portrayed, the characters have no redeeming values and watching them interact is sheer torture. "Gothic" was entertainment at least, this is crap. If you like watching pretentious and spoiled poets straining to outwit each other, this may be right up your alley. Lord Byron is portrayed as a complete jerk, and why the others would choose to spend more than five minutes with him is truly bewildering. Mary Shelly appears to be the only character with any spine whatsoever, but even she comes out of the whole ordeal without an ounce of respect. What a waste of time. See Gothic instead. I also remember seeing another superior movie based on the same subject matter, but didn't catch the title. I was hoping this was it, but no such luck. Not recommended.

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