Monday, October 04, 2010

And Now the Screaming Starts!

(1973) **

Or as I like to call it, "And Now the Snoring Starts!" Or "And Now the Sucking Starts!" Or "snoozing," or "stupid," or... it's really too easy.

This started out so promisingly. First it fulfills my yearly wish to watch a film ending in an exclamation point, then it features an actual crawling hand! Sweet! Not only that, it's a scary ghost hand, which is far more threatening than a straight up ambulatory disembodied hand (although so is an angry duck, but I could go on and on).

The story takes place in 1795, and it follows young bride Catherine who arrives with her dream man Charles at his palatial family estate. Then afterwards there's some screaming.

"Were you looking at my boobs? I bet you were looking at my boobs."

Catherine has a series of weird visions that are naturally put down to her "imagination" because who's going to listen to a damn woman anyway? They involve a portrait of her grandfather-in-law and a bloody hand. Later you find out one of her first-ever visions was actually a key point in the movie.

Initially this is all quite fun, especially given the staccato pacing style of these opening scenes. Like they're kissing and she sees a face out the window, then it's not there, then he says "darling there's nothing there" and then bam! Next scene. No reaction from her, no emotional sign-off to the moment. It just jerks you around like that jarring, dangerous Rocky Point ride on which JPX threw up a little in his mouth that time.

Then Catherine is with child and the movie limps into a weak ripoff of Rosemary's Baby. Everybody is in on the secret except for Catherine and us, and it becomes increasingly annoying as the supporting characters skate around the topic. "You mean she doesn't know?" "Either you tell her or I will...." I even remained annoyed when people start getting killed for trying to tell her; I was all "just tell her already so we can get on with things!"

"Get the spray, honey, we've got hands again!"

As things wore on I struggled to keep my eyes open, looking for more snacks to interest me in remaining conscious. While eating a handfull of goldfish crackers one by one, I realized there was no getting on with things to be had, that basically the big secret was the movie, and when that's the situation then the secret better be a good one. Clue: it isn't. Nevertheless they get none other than Peter Cushing to coax the plot along to its anticlimactic fizzle.

Ah. Yes. Very good. Yes. *Sniff*

Peter Cushing susses out the truth because nobody pushes him around, man. This enables a flashback so that Herbert Lom, the other good actor slumming in this movie, can finally make an appearance. Charles finally coughs up his grandfather's shameful tale, telling of the unholy debauchery that took place in this very house. When we see the debauchery it mostly involves listening to lute music about pigs and doing funnels. Eventually we get around to this guy:

You know if a newlywed couple move to the husband's huge family estate, there's a guy like this living on it somewhere.

Anyway, when you find out what the big reveal is it's heavily diminished by the fact that the heroine herself guessed it out loud back before I ate the last strawberry cereal bar. "I'm afraid this child has been fathered by a vengeful ghost!" or some such. I guess she still manages to act surprised. Clap. Clap. Clap.

Really nothing I can recommend about this one. I even began to doubt that the costumes were anything close to accurate for the clothing style of 1795.

Still, the flick's got an exclamation point. Doesn't deserve it, but it's got it.


JPX said...

"When we see the debauchery it mostly involves listening to lute music about pigs and doing funnels." Love it!

I haven't quite placed my finger on it but a while ago I concluded that there is a small period of time between approximately 1970-1974 where horror movies are unwatchable. For some reason Peter Cushing figures into a lot of these despite his excellent film pedigree. Part of it might have to do with the "Technicolor" look of the films and part of it seems to be that every horror film during that time had either a period setting for a period that I don't find interesting or they are oddly British. Can anyone think of a good horror movie that came out in the early 70s? After several years of Horrorthon I won't entertain watching a film from that period.

Catfreeek said...

Second! I laughed out loud at that debauchery comment. Very, very funny. Sounds like your review out shined the film.

DCD said...

Damn! That was the kind of debauchery I was planning for our Holiday Horrorthon dinner party. Guess I'll cancel that lute player.

Hilarious review, Octo!

Landshark said...

Great review.

Strawberry cereal bars are the bomb, aren't they?

Julie said...

Fell asleep pretty soon into this one, which is funny because I probably was enjoying it slightly more than Octo. I liked the jerky editing; it made me laugh. Also I'm a sucker for period dress and can be entertained merely by examining elaborate sleeves. Still, the movie did not keep me awake.

50PageMcGee said...

-loved the pigs/funnels line too

-you don't mean to say that there's a portrait in the house of the grandfather-in-law with a bloody hand, do you? because i can see that being a particularly grating portrait session.

GIL: I think I need to be rushed to the doctor. My vision's getting blurry and I feel lightheaded. Could someone hand me a towel, or a poultice or something?

GIL's son: Three more hours, father. The portraitist is still working on the nose.

-i'm fond of any period dress that involves tight bodices, and maybe the surgical removal of a floating rib.

Johnny Sweatpants said...


The Wicker Man (1973)
The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974)

Octo - I laughed aloud several times during that review.

Peter Cushing has got to be the ugliest leading man of all time. He looks like a skull. Whenever I see him in a relationship in a movie I wonder what the hell the woman sees in him.

AC said...

great review of a fairly crappy-sounding movie.

JPX said...

"JPX -

The Wicker Man (1973)
The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974)"

I've been schooled.

Whirlygirl said...

I finally got to read this. Hysterical!!!! Extra exclamation points just for you.

I love it when JPX get schooled. High five, Pants.