Haunted Summer

To combat this, producers Menahem Golan and Yoram
Globus made the occasional stab at respectability, like 1988’s “Haunted
.” Directed by Ivan Passer (“Loves of a Blonde”), it’s a
dramatization of the wild week in 1816 amid a summer Switzerland
paradise when horror fiction practically was born overnight.

Mind you, it’s not too high-minded; a mere seven
minutes in, we get the makings of a threesome, followed by a nude,
full-frontal shower under the waterfall, courtesy of Eric Stoltz.

He plays Percy Shelley to Alice Krige’s Mary Godwin, who soon would be
Mary Shelley, of course, the creator of “Frankenstein.” The yin to their
yang is the coupling of Philip Anglim as Lord Byron and Laura Dern as
Mary’s half-sister, Claire Clairmont, whom he has knocked up, much to
his annoyance.

They dine and drink and sail and philosophize, and eventually smoke
opium, during which Passer’s lens gets smeared with Vaseline, and
Byron’s guests experience terrifying visions. Of particular note is the
arrival of a demon — or perhaps just a really unkempt gramma type — that
freaks the eff out of Mary.

Byron manipulates Claire to an insurmountable level of cruetly, and Dr.
Polidori (a miscast Alex Winter of the “Bill & Ted” movies)
double-crosses Byron. Meanwhile, Percy blows bubbles. Sex is also had
among characters, rendered in slow-motion; unfortunately, much of the
film feels like it is, because while pretty, it’s dreadfully dull.

On the plus side, the final shot is haunting, and Christopher Young’s
theme is brain-burrowing. Released near-simultaneously, Ken Russell’s
“Gothic” told the same story with less lucidity, but more memorable
images. —Rod Lott

Rod Lott

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