Total Pageviews

Friday, March 30, 2012

Don't Look Now

     Horror can come in two different kinds of movies- ones that rely simply on cheap scares to make you jump every five minutes, or ones that take a more subtle and serious approach.  Films that linger, work their way into your brain.  Disturb you.  "Don't Look Now" is one of those films.  It's utterly chilling and disturbing, and will haunt you afterwards.

     Here's the story.  Donald Sutherland and Julie Christie are happily married with two children and living in England.  Their youngest daughter drowns, and naturally shattered, go to Venice to grieve her death.  During their stay, a rash of strange murders hit the city as body after body is hauled out of the canals.  Then the couple meet a pair of elderly sisters, one of whom is a psychic.  She insists that she knows of their daughter, and that she's happy.  On top of all this, a mysterious figure in a red coat is spotted around Venice.  And guess what?  Their daughter just happened to be wearing a red coat when she drowned.  How does this all connect?  That is the brilliance of "Don't Look Now".  It's a frustrating, haunting, jarring, and thought-provoking little movie.  And extremely effective.

     Released the same time as "The Exorcist" in 1973, "Don't Look Now" is often overlooked and unheard of.  Obviously, "The Exorcist" made a bigger impact.  But it's a truly mind-bending and chilling shocker that was honestly way ahead of its time.  It's wonderfully intriguing and maddening- and the stunning Venice locations and photography truly give the film an other-wordly, almost dream-like feel.  It's almost hard to describe this movie.  Those of you expecting one of those neat, tidy endings that wrap up all loose endings will be thoroughly disappointed.  What you get from watching this movie is entirely up to you, as much of it is open to interpretation.  Think Dario Argento mixed with David Lynch.

     Donald Sutherland and Julie Christie give first-rate performances here, the direction by Nicholas Roeg is top notch, and the film positively drips with symbolism. Normal, ordinary things suddenly become nightmarish and sinister in "Don't Look Now".  It's truly original, with lots of creepy music and moody, hallucinatory cinematography.  Some horror fans hate this movie, as it made them angry.  Like I said, your interpretation is up to you, and some simply can't think for themselves- they need Michael Bay to spell it out for them.  But if you can just go with it and open your mind, you might enjoy it.  I did very much.  It truly creeped me out. Oh and out of nowhere comes a shocking and unbelievable sex scene between Donald and Julie, and the Sutherland rocks some truly righteous hair in this movie.

Monday, March 5, 2012

The Sentinel

     So can I just try to explain my love for THE SENTINEL? It's one of the many supernatural shockers to ooze out of the 70's during the whole "satanic" craze, all influenced by the horror classic ROSEMARY'S BABY. It's completely batshit crazy and it's awesome.

     This little doozy tells the story of glamorous New York model Alison Parker. Alison, it seems, isn't ready to settle down and become a wife yet to her lawyer boyfriend (Chris Sarandon), and in an act of independence finds herself a lovely brownstone in Brooklyn Heights, shown to her by Ava Freakin' Gardner, that is. But the fun is just beginning as we then meet her daffy neighbor, played by Burgess Meredith who devours every bit of scenery around him, as usual. Throw in some masturbating lesbians, weird cats, blind priests, and geriatric orgies and you've got a wonderfully weird and entertaining supernatural shocker from the 70's. Oh and did I fail to mention that the lovely brownstone they are all living in appears to be not only haunted, but it's the gateway to Hell? They sure don't make movies like this anymore.

    As nutty as this movie is, there are some genuinely creepy and shocking moments throughout, and it's really quite ballsy. I have distinct memories of seeing the creepy-looking VHS cover slyly peering at me from the top shelf of TOTALLY TAPE, begging me to rent it- which of course I did. And I loved every lurid minute of it. It's complete oddball horror cinema, and it's got that extra special helping of overall 70's strangeness that just sends it all to a whole other level. There is just something very appealing about this movie.

     THE SENTINEL is literally bursting with a cast of familiar faces- Ava Gardner, Burgess Meredith, Arthur Kennedy, Chris Sarandon, Eli Wallach, Christopher Walken, Jerry Orbach, Beverly D'Angelo, and Jeff Goldblum all show up throughout. I'm not making this up, I promise! It's also chock-full of strange rituals, the Catholic Church vs. the Devil, dark conspiracy theories, nightmarish scenes of horror, and a shocking ending to boot! THE SENTINEL easily belongs right up there with ROSEMARY'S BABY, THE EXORCIST, THE OMEN, and THE AMITYVILLE HOROR as supreme examples of the Satanic/supernatural craze that swept Hollywood in the wake of the Manson murders. Good stuff, kids.

     Overall, I say it's a must-see for horror fans. "Campy" doesn't even begin to describe THE SENTINEL- yet it's got some truly spooky moments in it. Like I said, it's an odd film. It seems the director is purposely trying to throw the viewers off with outrageously campy and off-putting scenes- and for the most part, it succeeds. The film threatens to go completely over-the-top at times, and almost does... but always manages to somehow stay on track. It's completely absurd, but somehow it all works. THE SENTINEL has grown a rather respectable cult following over the years and deservedly so.  It's trashy, weird, repulsive, eerie, and odd. And I loved every trashy, weird, repulsive, eerie, and odd minute of it.
I in no way claim ownership of any image or video used on this blog.