Sunday, August 19, 2012

Goodbye Gemini (1970)

Linus is never one to shy away from a new experience – especially when it has to do with films that were made in the 1970’s. I know that this is a blog dedicated to 80’s horror, but every now and then, I get in the mood for something different, something a little out of the ordinary. For every Friday the 13th and Prom Night that I watch, there are those instances where I’d like to refine my horror palette and get a taste of something that I wouldn’t normally watch or sit in front of a film that I hear/read something about and spend time looking for it so I can form my own opinion. This is how my love for Euro films got its start many years ago and this week, I wanted something new and the 1970 film Goodbye Gemini was exactly what I’d been craving.

I didn’t really know about this film until a few months ago and had been oblivious to its existence had it not been for a fellow collector I met online that brought this to my attention. I did my research on this little number – as I do with any new horror film that I suddenly get a curiosity for – and I was intrigued by what I read. I have a secret fascination for horror/thriller films about twins – which were, in fact, due to my viewings of Basket Case, Jack’s Back and of course, The Other - so I immediately assumed that this one was going to be on par with the aforementioned titles. This particular individual that I’d met over the internet had the official DVD and offered to trade with me for it (as he’d already lost interest in it as was looking for something else) and I obliged while thinking to myself, Now I’ll have it my collection. In the days that followed, I started reading more and more about it and went to Netflix to see if I could get some sort of preview of this film and lo and behold, there it was. So, I put it at the top of my queue and received it today so as soon as I’d done all my chores and just as the sun went down, I popped this into the DVD player and sat down to have a looksie.

Normally what happens as far as the modus operandi that goes into the writing of this blog, is that I watch a film, let it simmer in my head for about twenty four to forty eight hours and once it's lodged in my mind, I’ll sit in front of my laptop and create the next entry in this series. This time, it’s a little different, as I’m writing this just minutes after the end credits. I am wanting to get this down on paper before certain things escape me because I have a few choice words for this little foray into 70’s cinema, not that I’m going to complain or bash it, but I do need to make a few things clear. Now, if you haven’t seen this film and have plans to do so in the near future, I would suggest you stop here and go to another page as I don’t want to ruin it for you. I’ve always had this saying regarding this collection of reviews that if you’re reading them, I’m assuming that you’ve seen all the films listed here or are familiar with them in some way so the spoiler card is immediately thrown out the window with me claiming no responsibility should you read any of them. Even with how obscure this film actually is, I’m still holding onto my disclaimer.

For starters, this film is based on the novel “Ask Agamemnon” by Jenni Hall and I feel the need to warn you about the film’s advertising and one-sheet poster(s) as once you watch the film – or read the rest of this review – you will see that it is blatantly misleading. Was it done on purpose? That would be a great piece of discussion. Taglines such as You’ll feel four hands reaching for you when the Gemini Twins arrive! and I am You. When I love, you love. You are Me. When I kill, you kill are spread across all of the advertising posters I’ve seen online along with some that read Enter the terrifying world of the Gemini Twins! and my favorite one of all – which actually, sparked my curiosity -  In the age of Aquarius, the twins Julian and Jacki share everything: love, men and murder! If you see these advertisements before seeing the film, let me tell you right now that the film is nothing like the taglines are claiming it to be. I was waiting  for it to be more seedy, more provocative and full of terror and debauchery than it actually ended up containing. Don’t get me wrong, I didn’t say the film was a complete let down, but the following was actually the film itself:

It opens up with a memorable groovy 70’s track entitled, “Tell The World We’re Not In” by a band called The Peddlers and we are immediately introduced to a set of twins named Jacki (Judy Geeson) and Julian (Martin Potter) Dewar who are on break from University and are staying at their father’s London home while he is in Mexico on business. Upon meeting them, we immediately see that they’re not your typical fraternal twins, they are innocent, and (literally) childlike in both thinking and behavior. They are both absolutely gorgeous (Julian’s eyes!) and are a true testament of my theory that people in the 70’s were created differently by God. When the twins are wanting to partake of what their father has left them – due to his obvious wealth – their nanny quickly steps in and attempts to put a stop to their plans only to have Jacki and Julian push her down the stairs – staged as an “accident”, of course – thus getting her out of the way once and for all. Immediately, the twins (along with Jacki’s teddy bear Agamemnon) immerse themselves in the London underground party scene where they meet a very suave and smooth-talking cat named Clive (a brilliant and absolutely sexy Alexis Kanner) and his is-she-or-isn’t-she girlfriend Denise (Marion Diamond) who decides to befriend the twins and take them under his wing. Now, quickly, I have to touch on the subject of Clive, with his sexy physique, his deep voice, eyes that could melt butter, and…those sideburns! Wow, I was immediately drawn to his smooth and no-nonsense ways and I wasn’t surprised to see how quick he was to get hold of the twins and draw them in to his superficial world of the wealthy and it’s-who-you-know. So it isn’t any further surprise that the twins accept an invitation – much to Julian’s behest, and I’ll go into why later on - to a houseboat party filled with snobs…and older homosexual men – a few who know that Clive himself is bi-sexual! (One of them even remarks, I wonder which one he’s attracted to?)

At first, he totally sets his sights on the young and innocent Jacki, pawning Denise on the obviously uninterested Julian. But, why is Julian uninterested? It’s not because he might be gay – although he sure does look the part - but it’s because it isn’t Denise’s affection he wants…its Jacki’s love he wants! Yep, I said it and put it out there as of right now. Brother wants to be doing his sister! How fast can you say Can you hand me a f—ing barf bag? As weird and as sick as that sounds (and looks, as there are instances of Julian’s feelings for his sister shown on screen), it’s crucial to the plot of the film. But as Clive’s fascination with Jacki begins to blossom, guess who dons the green suit of jealousy? Yes, little brother! So when he tries to make more weird advances on his older sister and she ends up puting him in his place, he gets her back by taking up an invitation posed by Clive to hang out and cruise the town. I mean, why wouldn’t he? I would too if the man in question poured me a stiff drink and told me I was beautiful (as Clive does actually pays that compliment to Julian out loud). So during this night out – and I’m not joking when I tell you this – Clive gets his new friend drunk and takes him to a London hotel room where Clive does business. What business, you ask? Transvestite prostitutes! So two drag queens take hold of innocent, naïve Julian, sprawl him out onto the bed to have their way with him (while Clive watches and takes photographs) and just as Jules figures out what’s going on, the two queens beat and rape him.

Now, at the houseboat party – before the incident above occurred – we were introduced to Rod, a seedy gangster that Clive owes money to and who begins asking everyone if they know of Clive’s whereabouts. He finds Denise and Jacki and tells them that Clive owes him money and if he doesn’t get it soon all hell will break loose – and that’s after Rod finds Clive and gives him a good pummeling. So, here is where the story finally gets going: In order to get the money he needs to get Rod off his back, Clive develops the pictures and attempts a blackmailing scheme by showing them to Julian and telling him either get the money…or else. With Denise’s conscience getting the best of her, she decides to tell Jacki about the pictures and Clive’s plans to blackmail her brother. But unknown to Julian, the plan is to make him part of Clive’s “circus” of prostitutes if he can’t come through with the money. Julian is pissed off that Denise spilled the beans to his sister about the pictures, but Jacki forgives him…and plans a scheme of her own.

The next night, she poses a challenge to a drunken Clive: that she could bet he could not tell [the twins] apart. And this is where the film takes its turn. They both erringly drape themselves in sheets and blindfold him, bringing Clive into the room. Seriously, the scene where he drops the blindfold to find the twins standing draped before him is the most terrifying scene in the entire film. They both lift swords into the air and when he fails to identify the twins correctly, they shockingly stab him to death, leaving him to die on the floor.  Agamemnon is slashed in the process and the combination of everything along with Clive’s blood splattered on her causes Jacki to lose it and she flees with the blood-soaked sheet, leaving everything – and everyone, including Julian – behind.

At the houseboat party early in the film, we’re also introduced to a politician named James who recognizes Jacki from that get together as she finds refuge on a dock late that night. He takes her home, thinking she’s just had a rough night partying. He leaves her money for a cab in case she changes her mind about staying for the night and she does, going back to her father’s house, only to come across the devastation left from what happened earlier. She finds Clive’s dead body and screams into the night, terrified. The cab driver who took her home hears her screams and watches her flee and when he goes inside to also discover the dead body, he phones the police and a manhunt ensues. But….where’s Julian?

Jacki finds refuge at James’ home and after having sex with her, they form a bond, going as far as totally believing her when she claims to have no memory of what happened at her father’s house and not remembering anything about Clive’s death. She knows she has to look for Julian so she goes out to hunt him, trying hard to remember anything that could trigger her memory. And when she gets something to eat at a place her and Julian once ate at and after seeing a display of teddy bears that strongly resemble Agamemnon, her memory comes back and goes to look for her brother in the one place she never thought of going – the hotel where he was raped. She successfully finds him there, disheveled, hungry and in a very bad state, and he immediately blames her for Clive’s death and his own rape, stating that if she would have just given into it “being the two of them” [his incestuous intentions with her] nothing would have ever happened to them and their relationship. Having asked James to call the police should she not contact him by 9, Jacki tries to leave the room to get supplies for Julian (and to call James to let her know not to call the police). Believing in his fragile mind that Jacki is abandoning him once again, he strangles her to death in a fit of rage. Meanwhile, back at his flat, James does not call the police, afraid of the repercussions from lying to the police.

But back at the hotel room, a destroyed Julian turns up the gas in the heater and blows out the pilot light, leaving him susceptible to carbon monoxide poisoning. He takes towels and seals off all the openings and exits of the room and takes Jacki into his arms, lying onto the floor as he stares out into space, cuddling her until he, too, dies.  

Now do you see what I mean when I say the poster art’s taglines were misleading and completely the opposite of what’s presented in the film? Again, not that the film was bad, because it was actually, in reality, excellent. It was beautifully photographed, the soundtrack of jazzy tunes was equally great, and the actors gave fantastic performances. Even the whole Julian wanting to have sex with his sister was presented – thankfully – in a manner which gave the story its unique charm.  On my own end, I would have liked to have seen the whole relationship between Clive and Julian expanded just a little bit more (as the tagline read stated that the twins shared men) but the film managed to keep my attention until the final scene – even though I was quite disappointed that Jacki lost her life and that Julian was so dead-set on pushing her down a road that she was not willing to go. The relationship between them was clearly defined and I did feel for them as outside forces were attempting to take advantage of their own naivety and innocence in an attempt to corrupt them for their own desires. It ended on a very sad note, and an ambiguous one at that, as the film never really states if Julian dies, as well. But I have to admit that I sat in front of the end credits with my heart wounded as I placed myself in the final scene, trying to conceive any sort of reason why Julian was driven to do what he did. Was he so traumatized by his rape combined with the murder of Clive – whom he was clearly attracted to at some point – that it actually drove him to madness? Was he so set on creating a world on his own terms that he came to conclusion that if it wasn’t going to be his way, there wasn’t going to be anything at all? I felt for him. I honestly and genuinely felt for them.

 Am I mad at the advertising campaign for presenting a film that wasn’t even close to what it claimed to be? Before watching this, yes, because I was expecting a telekinetic-twin movie, where one was hurt and the other took his/her revenge. A film about a pair of evil twins who committed murders together, united, as a team. I was not, at all, expecting a film about twins whose own special unique bond ended being the reason they both lost their lives. This was a great piece of cinema and Scorpion Releasing did a really good job with putting this one out. The original U.S. VHS title was “Twinsanity”  - pretty clever, if you ask me – and the picture and sound presented here is fantastic doing this obscure film much justice. With all the shopping for horror DVDs that I do, I can say that I’ve never seen this on any shelf anywhere. This was put out in 2010 so I’m not sure if it’s out of print already, but Netflix has it so seek it out there. It’s worth of a watch if you love the swinging London 70’s, films about twins, or a film with a strong storyline that doesn’t leave you wanting more. Alan Gibson’s direction was impeccable and it deserves credit – not since Night Warning have I seen a film with delicate subject matter given such a beautiful treatment.  

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