Alan Gibson, best known for his output for Hammer Studios which included the infamous Dracula A.D. 1972, directs this quirky tale of twenty-year old twin siblings Jacki (Judy Geeson) and Julian (Martin Potter). The pair is a bit out there, almost on their own planet, and they don't really seem to feel much of a connection to anyone in the outside world. After playing a cruel prank on their landlady that winds up sending her to the hospital, they head out to a pub where a drag show is in progress. Here they meet a young man named Clive Landseer (Alexis Kanner), a swinging type who invites the pair out along with one of his female companions for the night. When Clive sets his sights on Jacki, Julian proves to be a very jealous thorn in his side and to get him out of the picture at a party one night, Clive gets him drunk and sends him off with two 'women' who turn out to be drag queens. Before Julian realizes what's happened, Clive's taken a series of photographs which he'll use to blackmail Julian for the cash he needs to pay off his bookie.
With Julian's dislike for Clive becoming more and more apparent and Jacki seemingly falling for the guy, Julian decides to play yet another one of their cruel pranks on him. After covering one another in white sheets, they make Clive guess who is who and then murder the poor bastard in cold blood. They flee and Jacki blacks out and forgets the entire ordeal, but Julian's got more than just murder on his mind and little does his sister know she plays a very big part in his plans.
More of a mod-style thriller than a flat out horror film like Gibson's Hammer offerings were, this movie works well both as a piece of psychologically twisted storytelling and as a time capsule of the London that was in its swinging heyday. Astrology, go-go dancing, cross-dressing and the big beat sound that was popular at the time all collide under Gibson's guidance and the mixture turns out to be quite good indeed. You almost get the impression that this was being filmed around the corner from where mod-mondo movie Primitive London was being shot, as it has the same sort of fashion conscious and (at the time) trendy aesthetic to it. By today's standards, it's horribly dated, but that's half the charm of the picture in a nutshell and exactly what gives it its time capsule qualities.
As visually pleasing (and quirky) as the movie may be, it's only going to be as strong as its performances, particularly when it's as character heavy as this picture is. Thankfully Judy Geeson and Martin Potter are both more than up for the job at hand, with Geeson stealing the show. She's very good at earning our sympathy as the events in the film progress and her character is bounced around and eventually torn between her affections for her twin brother and the other characters in her life and her back and forth with Potter is the backbone of the film. They've got a creepy, incestuous chemistry that Gibson milks for all its worth and it winds up giving the picture an unusually seedy undertone that makes it a fair bit more memorable than it would have been otherwise. The film plays with a few different taboos in its ninety minute run, transgender issues and homosexuality for example, but it's the incest theme that proves to be the most disturbing.
While ultimately it's hard to call Goodbye Gemini a seminal work of classic British horror, it's nevertheless and interesting and well made picture. It's got style, it's got quirk, and it's got lots of odd atmosphere all of which makes it plenty watchable and wholly entertaining. Throw in a few twists to make the plot sufficiently interesting and polish it off with a pair of impressive performances and you can see how this would be one well worth seeing.
NOTE: This review is based off of a test disc (though it appears to at least represent finished product.
Goodbye Gemini looks excellent in this 1.78.1 anamorphic widescreen presentation (transferred in HD from the original negative, according to the packaging). The progressive scan image shows only minute instances of print damage and while it does have that odd sort of seventies softness to its cinematography, detail is generally pretty good. Color reproduction looks great, there's a lot of interesting primary hues used throughout the film, and black levels, while not reference quality, are quite strong as well. Flesh tones look good, there aren't any problems with mpeg compression artifacts or edge enhancement at all - a nice effort all around in the video department!
The English language Dolby Digital Mono track on this is also quite strong. It's well balanced, easy to follow and free of any hiss or distortion. A few sequences sound a little bit flat but that's likely got more to do with the nature of the recording than with the DVD. All in all, it sounds quite good. No alternate language options or subtitles have been provided for this release.
The core extras on this disc is a commentary track featuring producer Peter Snell, actress Judy Geeson and moderator/writer Nathanial Thompson. This is a pretty solid track that covers not only the pair's work on Goodbye Gemini but also some of the other film's they've worked on both before and since. Thompson keeps the discussion moving at a good pace and asks enough interesting questions to keep them talking throughout and we wind up with a nice, neat history of the film and a good look at two of the principal players who worked on it.
Rounding out the extras is a trailer for the feature, and trailers for a few unrelated Cinerama Productions - Mumsy, Nanny, Sonny & Girly, The Last Grenade, Doctor Death, Follow Me, and Say Hello To Yesterday. All of the trailers are in anamorphic widescreen. No trailer for the feature itself has been included. Menus and chapter stops are also included.
A really bizarre offering from a uniquely British slant, Goodbye Gemini offers up a tight plot, some interesting characters and a few unexpected twists all set against the swingingest that the London of the era had to offer. Scorpio Releasing has done a fine job on the presentation and included a rock solid commentary as well, making it easy to recommend this disc to cult film enthusiasts or anyone with an interest in the odd side of British cinema.
Ian lives in NYC with his wife where he writes for DVD Talk, runs Rock! Shock! Pop!. He likes NYC a lot, even if it is expensive and loud.