Archive for An American Werewolf in London

Low-tech Ick

Posted in FILM with tags , , on November 30, 2013 by dcairns

Low-tech ickiness from a Hong Kong manga adaptation, THE PEACOCK KING (1988). Groovy combination of stop-motion animation and full-scale live-action physical effects. Combinations of different media can sometimes get a little icky in their own way, but I think this is pretty good work. A mixture of performance (the actor moving in jerks to smooth the transition to model animation); camerawork (post-TETSUO spasmocam, like the film itself is having a fit); AMERICAN WEREWOLF type prosthetics, bladder effects etc; and stop motion for when the character becomes definitively non-humanoid — they manage to keep the camera moving even then, though, which is impressive; and maybe there’s even a distorting mirror effect to fake the neck stretching?; and of course the gruesome sound effects help sell it.

Oh, maybe don’t watch over breakfast?

Blind Tuesday #1: The Eyes Don’t Have It

Posted in FILM with tags , , , , , , , , , on July 12, 2011 by dcairns

BLIND TERROR or, to give it its “classier” title, SEE NO EVIL, is a seriously basic blind-girl-in-jeopardy thriller written with slack minimalism by Brian The Avengers Clemens but directed rather sensationally by Richard Fleischer, whose seventies work is all over the map but sometimes comes violently to life in response to either a good script or a technical challenge. Here we get traditional slasher dynamics — extreme low-angle glides after sinister footwear, that kind of thing — given an extra push into stylistic brio by cinematographer Gerry Fisher.

Also, the suspense is genuinely intense as Mia wanders about a big house unaware that the other occupants have been bloodily murdered. Even more cringe-making is a coffee-making scene in which she doesn’t know about the broken glass littering the kitchen floor, her stockinged feet padding about between the glittering shards, miraculously escaping bloody mutilation with every step.

Unfortunately, the script’s slenderness prevents it working on any deeper level, and an unbelievably flat and anticlimactic conclusion stops it holding up as a straightahead shocker. Those in the know about young British actors of the period will have no trouble guessing the killer, since it’s got to be somebody with the necessary psycho edge, although the botched climax never actually allows him to display his chops.

Burgess Meredith gate-crashes the movie via TV.

Faced with this streamlined, largely unmotivated string of cruel set-pieces, Fleischer attempts what seems like his own stab at subtext. The killer has no background or psychology to motivate him, so RF attempts to stencil in a vague mental framework in the opening titles by showing the sensationalist media crowding the guy, a cultural call to violence. This is immediately ridiculous (and it’s in bad faith for a violent thriller to blame its killer’s actions on violent thrillers) — we open on an audience filing out of a grindhouse double feature, rather implausibly situated in rural Berkshire. Then we get newsstands with lurid headlines, and Burgess Meredith grimacing in TORTURE GARDEN as viewed on a TV set in a shop window… was the clip chosen based on the film’s splendid title, leading to a struggle to find any suitably gory imagery in a typically mild Amicus horror flick? In the end, the sequence overreaches itself conceptually and makes for a shaky start, redeemed only when the suspense starts properly and the film can perform on a purely visceral level.

Top marks for blindness: Mia’s raw, screaming hysteria is not only convincing but worrying. The movie makes more sense than WAIT UNTIL DARK, but that’s easy since it doesn’t attempt anything remotely complex. The attempts at red herring generation are at a DW Griffith level of complexity (untrustworthy gypsies, including Michael Elphick of THE ELEPHANT MAN and the landlady of The Slaughtered Lamb in AN AMERICAN WEREWOLF IN LONDON).

Fiona tells me that when THE ELEPHANT MAN came out, poor Elphick would get abuse from random strangers in the street, so convincing was his callous hospital porter in that movie. “You bastard!” A phenomenon unglimpsed since Stroheim.

***

This has been No 1 in a short series on blind person thrillers.

A Single Clew…

Posted in FILM, Television with tags , , , on August 21, 2009 by dcairns

Here’s the crime scene ~

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Extra! Extra! Music Hall girl ‘orribly murdered!

“It puts you in mind of the days of Jack the Ripper!”

And by her bedside… a single clew…

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“If you were a serial killer, what would they call you?”

“The Gardener… because on each of my victims I would leave… a single rose.”

“And what weapon would you use?”

“A hammer.”

Well, the quotes, or possibly misquotes, are from AN AMERICAN WEREWOLF IN LONDON and The I.T. Crowd, but what are the images from? And who is the killer? And can horticultural detective Vincent Price save the day???

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