Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Three Films Make A Post: A Blood Chilling-Gut Spilling Challenge To The Death

The Strange And Deadly Occurrence (1974): Totally solid mid-70s TV thriller by totally solid TV (and otherwise) director John Llewellyn Moxey. Lawyer Robert Stack (still using his Eliot Ness voice like in the old days), Vera Miles and her teenage daughter move into their dream home in the country. Strange (and later deadly) things occur that suggest the family's house may be haunted. Or is human interference behind everything?

Despite using one of my least favourite tropes in all of cinema as if it were an Old Dark House movie made in the late 30s, Moxey's film is still pretty entertaining, if not particularly exciting. You can see how it could have been much more effective if it hadn't gone all Scooby Doo on its audience, for the seemingly supernatural moments are clearly playing to Moxey's strength the most, but it's a nice enough way to waste 70 minutes of one's life.

I, Desire aka Desire, the Vampire (1982): Ironically, this later attempt at being all-out supernatural by Moxey is less successful than the older movie. A female vampire working as a hooker and as a nurse (and how's that for mixed signals and/or fetishism?) collides with overly nosy law student and morgue attendant David Naughton. It might be the fact that the script is often rather clumsy and obvious where it seems to think that it's clever and subtle, or that Moxey makes more than one directorial decision that hints at self sabotage (wildcat noises for the vampire? Really?), or that the whole affair just drags a bit too much; in any case, while it's certainly not a horrible effort, the film is nothing to write home about in its inoffensive TV movie way.

The film does, however, contain a bit of choice scenery chewing by good old Brad Dourif, so Dourif completists (I know you're out there) will need to have a look anyhow.

The Attic Expeditions (2001): I can see why and how this film has gained a certain amount of cult traction over the years, what with it playing like a homemade horror film version of David Lynch adapting Philip K. Dick with eternal fan favourites like Jeffrey Combs, Ted Raimi and Wendy Robie in the cast. Unfortunately, the whole affair never really gels for me and seems to assume that being weird for weirdness' sake while pretending to be clever and profound is enough to make me overlook less than elegant direction, an atrocious lead performance by Andras Jones, and the fact that the film really isn't as clever and profound as it would like to be. Of course, even in its state of not being very good at all, The Attic Expeditions is at least trying to be different and clever instead of - say - going the ultra-generic gore route, which makes it difficult to be all that annoyed about it.


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