Thursday, June 2, 2011

Goodbye Gemini (1970)

Goodbye Gemini is a forgotten cross-genre oddity that takes in elements of horror, crime and straight-up drama to mixed effect. On paper, it sounded like my scene - coming from the director of Dracula AD 1972, one of the most bizarre and hilarious 70's time capsules ever made, and seemingly possessing that grim old-school British horror feel, GG looked like it could be kick-ass... And though it wasn't quite as good as I'd hoped, it wasn't a total mess either.

Goodbye Gemini begins with weirdly close twins Julian and Jacki arriving in swinging London, quickly becoming involved in a nutso world of sex and drugs that eventually leads to disaster. Their introduction to the party scene is Clive, a man who not only possesses the most incredible sideburns I've ever seen, but also the weirdest accent I've ever heard... A crazy mix of Cornish, Irish, Scottish and American. Anyways, Clive turns out to be a bit of a snake, and attempts to blackmail the twins into helping him pay off his gambling debts, which triggers a chain of events that turns the crazy kids' world upside down.

The first thing that hits you about this movie is that it is most definitely a product of the late 60s/early 70s. The "happening party" scenes are gas, even though most of the actors look like they've never even been in the same room as a joint. You can definitely see how Alan Gibson went on to make Dracula AD 1972, though Goodbye Gemini isn't nearly as corny. Once the twins delve deeper into the seedy side of the party scene, the movie gets pretty trippy, especially the scene where Julian makes it with a cross-dresser while out of his tree on drugs. The more psychadelic touches work well, and make the movie feel a little more authentic - although some may find all that trippy shit a little dated. The music won't help with that either, alternating between generic "swinging sixties" muzak and terrible pop songs that nobody's ever heard.

Performance-wise, it's fairly decent the way through, though I never really bought the twins as brother and sister: there was something about the chemistry between the two leads that threw me off. The problem with this, of course, is that allusions to incest aren't all that effective or shocking, and considering Julian's jealousy is the catalyst for his irrational behaviour, the whole thing feels a bit uneven. I did enjoy that grim British horror vibe, in particular the downbeat ending, which really ends the movie on a dark note; nobody did downbeat horror like the British in the 60s and 70s. My biggest problem with Goodbye Gemini is that it takes much too long for the horror aspect to creep in, with the first hour or so being fairly straight and a little dull, frankly. Clive is easily the best thing about the first section of the film, spouting hilarious sixties slang in his crazy accent the whole way through, but he's not enough to prevent the first half from being a bit of a drag.

Goodbye Gemini could have been a lost classic, but it's faults hold it back a little too much. If you're into old school British horror it's definitely worth a watch, but the casual viewer might find it a little too slow and a little too depressing for their taste.

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