Gothic (film)

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1986 Virgin Films poster
Directed by Ken Russell
Produced by Al Clark
Robert Devereux
Screenplay by Stephen Volk
Story by Lord Byron
Percy Bysshe Shelley
Starring Gabriel Byrne
Julian Sands
Natasha Richardson
Myriam Cyr
Timothy Spall
Music by Thomas Dolby
Editing by Michael Bradsell
Release dates
  • November 30, 1986 (1986-11-30) (London Film Festival)
  • February 27, 1987 (1987-02-27) (UK)
  • April 10, 1987 (1987-04-10) (US)
Running time 88 minutes
Country United Kingdom
Language English
Budget $4.5 million[1]
Box office $916,172

Gothic is a 1986 British horror film directed by Ken Russell, starring Gabriel Byrne as Lord Byron, Julian Sands as Percy Bysshe Shelley, Natasha Richardson as Mary Shelley, Myriam Cyr as Claire Clairmont – Mary Shelley's half-sister – and Timothy Spall as Dr John William Polidori. It features a soundtrack by Thomas Dolby, and marks Richardson's film debut.

The film is a fictionalized tale based on the Shelleys' visit with Lord Byron in Villa Diodati by Lake Geneva, shot in Gaddesden Place.[2] It concerns the famous challenge to write a horror story, which ultimately led to Mary Shelley's writing Frankenstein and John Polidori's writing The Vampyre. The same event has also been portrayed in the films Bride of Frankenstein (1935) and Haunted Summer (1988), among others.

The film's poster motif is based on Henry Fuseli's painting The Nightmare, which is also referenced in the film.




The film earned mixed reviews from critics and has a 50% rating on Rotten Tomatoes based on 12 reviews, but according to Dan Ireland who later worked with Russell the film was a big success on video.[3]

Awards and honors[edit]

Gothic was nominated for three 1987 International Fantasy Film Awards, and won two. Gabriel Byrne won as Best Actor, both for his role as Lord Byron in this film and for his role in Defense of the Realm, and the film also won for Best Special Effects. Director Ken Russell was nominated for Best Film, but did not win.[4]



  1. ^ BACKDROP: A WEEKLY COLUMN ON THE ARTS AND ENTERTAINMENT Edited by Fergus Linehan. The Irish Times (1921–Current File) [Dublin, Ireland] 17 May 1986: 16.
  2. ^
  3. ^ Dan Ireland on The Lair of the White Worm at Trailers From Hell
  4. ^ "Awards" on

External links[edit]