Ken Russell’s ‘Gothic’ and Mark Lester’s ‘Class of 1999’ are new to Blu-ray from Vestron Video!
Vestron Video’s Collector’s Series continues to offer up fun genre blasts from the past, and their latest releases include an atmospheric look at the night that birthed Frankenstein and a warning about the future of lower education. Keep reading for a look at the label’s newest titles.
Everyone knows the stories of Frankenstein and Dracula, but the story behind the stories is just as fantastical and far, far sexier. As recorded by Mary Shelley herself in an introduction to her classic novel, the idea comes to fruition during a drug, drink, and sex-infused night spent in a lakeside villa in Switzerland. She’s joined by her poet husband-to-be, Percy, Lord Byron, and two others, and over the course of the evening the friends touch and terrify each other.
Director Ken Russell (Lair of the White Worm, Altered States) brings the story to debaucherous life positing the madness and fun that encompassed the group resulting in two of the most well-known horror novels ever written — Mary created Frankenstein, and John Polidori wrote “The Vampyre” which is widely acknowledged as the necessary inspiration for Bram Stoker’s Dracula.
Knowing all of that adds an extra layer to the film, but even without the history lesson the movie is a gloriously inventive bucket of fun. Monstrous visuals share the screen with sumptuous delights, and the cast — including Gabriel Byrne, Julian Sands, Natasha Richardson, and Timothy Spall — is clearly having a ball. It’s disturbing at times even as it entertains, and while they’re clearly a bunch of weirdos their evening is undeniably appealing.
Vestron’s newly remastered Blu-ray includes trailers, stills, and the following special features:
- Commentary with Lisi Russell in conversation with film historian Matthew Melia
- Isolated score selections and audio interview with composer Thomas Dolby
- The Soul of Shelley [17:53] – Julian Sands talks about working with Ken Russell and his own wish that the film had been far sexier
- Fear Itself [17:26] – Screenwriter Stephen Volk discusses his spec script, his reaction to the production, and his feelings on the film decades later
- One Rainy Night [23:09] – Director of photography Mike Southon talks about the film’s production and the craft of capturing Ken Russell’s vision
Buy Gothic on Blu-ray from Amazon.
Class of 1999 (1990)
The world is a mess of unruly teens causing havoc in the streets, but when they come to school they’re expected to leave their gang affiliations behind and learn. Why are they even coming to school in the first place if they’re such bad-asses? No clue. The latest tool used to help keep them in line is robot teachers, but when the metalheads grow a bit too violent the teens decide it’s time return the favor.
If this reads like a sci-fi version of Class of 1984 it’s no mistake — director Mark Lester is behind both, but while the older film cast the kids as troublemakers here they find themselves landing in the protagonist role. Does it work? It’s hard to care for the teens, or even see them as the heroes, because they’re still all dicks, but that lack of allegiance doesn’t interfere with the fun.
There are a few action beats early on as kids will be kids, but the film’s back half is where it comes alive once they catch on to their new robotic overseers. The makeup effects enter a new stage too with some terrific gore gags as bodies give way to the mechanical monsters within. There’s a bit of The Terminator in there, and it works to offer a fun slice of genre fun.
Vestron’s newly remastered Blu-ray includes trailers, stills, a video promo, and the following special features:
- Commentary with producer/director Mark L. Lester
- School Safety: Assembling the Class of 1999 [22:33] – Mark Lester and co-producer Eugene Mazzola discuss the film’s production
- New Rules [19:27] – Screenwriter C. Courtney Joyner talks about developing the script and his career in general
- Cyberteachers from Hell: The Special Effects of Class of 1999 [19:30] – Special effects creators Eric Allard and Rick Stratton discuss their work in crafting the film’s various physical effects
- Future of Discipline [19:04] – The film’s director of photography, Mark Irwin, talks about his work on the film
Buy Class of 1999 on Blu-ray from Amazon.