The story is set on the infamous night that Byron, Shelley, Mary Wollstonecraft (she had a child by Shelley, but they were not married until later that year when Shelley's first wife died), Dr. Polidori and a small retinue of children, concubines and hangers on spent in each other's company at a house on Lake Geneva in May 1816. As an electrical storm raged outside, the four 'star' companions competed with each other to tell the scariest ghost story. For all the literary credentials in the room, it was the non-writers, Mary and Polidori, who came up with the most macabre tales – Polidori with ‘The Vampyr’ and Mary with the considerably better known ‘Frankenstein: A Modern Prometheus’.
Exterior shots were filmed on location at Villa Diodati, the actual place where Byron et al stayed that night; interiors were filmed in Barnet and Hemel Hempstead. The hair gel bill alone must have been enormous and, just in case you were wondering ‘could this film be any more 80’s?’ Thomas Dolby throws in a soundtrack that must have sounded dated the second after he pressed the ‘stop record’ button.
For all it’s niggly little faults, however, the best bits about ‘Gothic’ are pure, untamed Ken Russell – ambitious, delirious, hyperbolic, ridiculous, i.e. just what we like best about him.