Canadian-born director Alan Gibson, having a lucrative career on British television during the 1960s, would become widely acknowledged in the annals of Hammer Horror history for helming the last two Christopher Lee Dracula films (DRACULA A.D. 1972, THE SATANIC RITES OF DRACULA). Placing the vampire in a modern London setting, these often maligned offerings have since found a more accepting, open-minded audience, and some diehards even regard them as classics. Taking a further look back at Gibson’s career (sadly he passed away in 1987 at the age of 49), are his first two feature films: CRESCENDO (1970), a late entry in Hammer’s series of PSYCHO-inspired thrillers, and the same year’s GOODBYE GEMINI. Another thriller/pseudo horror film set in mod late 1960s London, the advertising for GEMINI wasn’t shy about this attribute, hyping it with the tagline, “In the age of Aquarius the twins Julian & Jackie share everything - Love, men and murder!”
Jacki (Judy Geeson) and Julian (Martin Potter) are two 20-year-old blonde and very child-like paternal twins, who live in a sort of dream world. Arriving together in London, they get their kicks executing various pranks, one of which includes tripping their landlady with a black teddy bear (an object which is prominently featured throughout the film), sending her to the hospital. Hanging out at a pub where a drag queen table dances to the surprising delight of a horde of drunken middle-aged men, Jacki and Julian meet up with Clive Landseer (Alexis Kanner), a young, carefree individual caught up in the swinging lifestyle.
Later at a houseboat party, Clive hits on and picks up Jacki, much to the resentment of brother Julian, who apparently has a “thing” for her. With the tension between the two men mounting, Clive amicably takes Julian to a sleazy hotel where he coaxes the inebriated lad to get friendly with a pair of transvestites, thinking they’re really women. Clive photographs Julian in the embarrassing predicament, and attempts to blackmail him in exchange for money he needs to repay a gambling debt. Julian gets sister Jacki involved in another prank that will turn the tables on the conniving Clive: the two twins garb themselves in white bed sheets and make the blindfolded Clive guess which is which. This leads to Clive’s violent murder and the twins separately running off from the scene, with Jacki pretty much blacking out after the traumatic episode.
GOODBYE GEMINI is an interesting character study, well directed by Gibson and superbly photographed by Geoffrey Unsworth (ZARDOZ, SUPERMAN) as they collaboratively create a credible sense of a decadent underbelly in an otherwise industrious, working class London. In pacing and style, the film is more akin to the intimate, trendy and personal style of BLOW UP and PERFORMANCE rather than to your average Hammer Horror, but it will likely appeal to even the most casual anglophile. GOODBYE GEMINI is an unusual film, controversial (in its time), not so much for its slightly homosexual subtext but rather for its incestuous main characters, and it leaves the viewer on a downright disturbing and ambiguous note.
Judy Geeson, whose career was about to take off in a big way, was given a worthy vehicle for her acting talents. Jacki is naïve and child-like, with possible severe mental problems rooted within. Some of her best scenes follow Jacki -- fleeing from her previously inseparable brother and a murder scene -- roaming the London streets in a desperate manner and an implied descent into madness that recalls MIDNIGHT COWBOY. Martin Potter (bleached so that his usually dark features matched the fair Geeson) bares a pretty-boy persona, but he radiates a sense of unbalance in his character the moment he’s on the screen (perhaps that’s why Norman J. Warren later cast him as a homicidal crackpot in SATAN’S SLAVE). Sir Michael Redgrave (DEAD OF NIGHT) is very good (in a role that could have been thankless) as the Parliament member and father-like figure safeguarding Jacki from the police. Hammer star Freddie Jones (Gibson would direct him again in THE SATANIC RITES OF DRACULA) plays an opinionated, flamboyant partygoer and Peter Jeffrey (familiar as Inspector Trout in both “Dr. Phibes” films) plays a detective in a short scene opposite Redgrave. Christopher Gunning’s (HANDS OF THE RIPPER) score was recently made available as an import CD, and thankfully so.
Released on VHS in the late 1980s (under the rather ghastly but I suppose marketable title, TWINSANITY) in a rather fuzzy transfer from Prism Entertainment, Scorpion Releasing premieres GOODBYE GEMINI on DVD with the expected care and high quality. Presented anamorphic in a 1.78:1 widescreen aspect ratio, the film now looks superb with excellent detail and bold early 1970s colors, with black levels coming off solid. The transfer has been made in High-Definition from the original camera negatives, and except for some fleeting blemishes and the occasional soft shots on the original source, all looks quite perfect, hardly appearing the 40 years old that is. The English mono audio track also comes off nicely.
The main extra here is an informative audio commentary with star Judy Geeson and producer Peter Snell (THE WICKER MAN), moderated by Nathaniel Thompson (webmaster of the excellent Mondo Digital). GOODBYE GEMINI is discussed, as are both participants’ careers, with Thompson having an opportunity to ask Geeson about some of the many other noteworthy films she’s been in (including HAMMERHEAD and 10 RILLINGTON PLACE) and Snell references his position as chairman and CEO of British Lion (Snell is currently producing Robin Hardy’s long-awaited follow-up to THE WICKER MAN, THE WICKER TREE). Other extras on the disc include the original theatrical trailer, as well as a reel of other Cinerama trailers: DOCTOR DEATH (30-second TV spot), MUMSY, NANNY, SONNY & GIRLY (aka GIRLY); THE LAST GRENADE; FOLLOW ME; and SAY HELLO TO YESTERDAY. (George R. Reis)
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