Monday, October 09, 2006

Horror Reviews for October- It Came from the 70s!

THE DARK (1979)- I’d heard of this film for years but had never watched it. I remember the VHS box sitting on the shelf of the local video store when I was a teenager. The amazing cover art did call my name once or twice but I was always able to resist. Turns out I was right to fight the urge to sit through this turkey. Terrible barely begins to cover it. The film’s dialog is so awful that I’m surprised that the actors agreed to speak any of it. And you can tell they all knew this was a dog because every single one of them phones in their performance. Usually good actors like Richard Jaeckel, William Devane and Keenan Wynn are terrible. There are line readings here that wouldn’t have passed muster for a 16mm student film. And the direction couldn’t be more pedestrian! It’s as if most the crew fell asleep during filming and just used what ever had made it to the print stage. Special mention should be made of the atrocious score that is one of the most unintentionally funny things I’ve ever heard in a horror film. Someone whisper-moaning ‘The Daaaaarrrk’ over synth throbing is just hysterical. Of course, there’s a lot of history about the original director being fired (Tobe Hooper?), the changing of the killer from a madman to an alien (!!) and everything being rushed- but STILL. The script alone was reason enough to stop filming. A re-write might have gotten it up from ‘crap’ to ‘passable’ but I doubt it. It would have been best to bury the whole idea and sew the ground with salt. As Beth said, “ That was a big turd!” You got that right. (1 star)

THE RETURN OF COUNT YORGA (1971)-- Maybe a little better than the first Yorga film although neither is top tier vampire cinema. I love Robert Quarry as Yorga with his smart-ass answers to stupid questions in the first few scenes. His performance is great even though the slow motion shots of him running toward victims with both arms outstretched are a little silly looking. The best segment is definitely the ending, which is suspenseful and manages a nice shock before the end credits. Well done, low budget movie. (3 stars)

PATRICK (1978) -- Good, solid sci/fi horror film from Australia. Interesting premise told with some style and strongly indebted to Hitchcock (think MARNIE with telekinesis). Director Richard Franklin went on to do PSYCHO 2 and from this it’s obvious he was angling for the job. My one real complaint is that it could have been shorter. Much shorter. (2 & 1/2 stars)

SSSSSSS (1973)-- I loved seeing Strother Martin play such a quiet, intellectual character (mad scientist though he is) and he was fascinating enough to have my attention for the first hour or so. But the last 30 minutes or so kind of loses interest and gets by rote and pretty dull. Doesn’t merit a repeat viewing but worth seeing for Strother and the sight of the freak snake man make-up on one sad character. The movie is rated PG and there are some scenes where they use fake leaves and tree limbs to hide some nudity that just had me rolling my eyes. They must have wanted that PG really badly! (2 stars)

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