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Back in the spring of 1974, I was a freelance writer in Manhattan, New York. While at distributing office in New Jersey, the editor and publisher of the magazine " Castle of Frankenstein" asked me if I wanted to do an interview with Jonathan Frid, about his new film SEIZURE. Well having been a fan of both Frid and Dark Shadows, I jumped at the chance. After interviewing Frid in his apartment, I also had a telephone interview with Oliver Stone, who told me of his future projects. I, at the time was only interested in his current project, SEIZURE. Little did I know how important Mr. Stone would someday be. After meeting with and buying some photo's from the films photographer and co-star Herve' Villachaze " meeting him was a treat in itself" I did the article. After 6 month the film was released in New York. The best and only safe place to see it was, believe it or not, the Lyrick theatre of 42nd street. Now, not that Seizure was a masterpiece, but,in a time where horror films were almost non-existent this was a nice treat. The music, photography and editing were all top notch, as well as the entire cast, who all played their parts as over the top as humanly possible. Seizure was a high guilty low budget film, that to this day has gone nowhere. In the late 80's the film was released on video, but was soon pulled off the market mainly due to Oliver Stones objections. Too bad, with all of the high budget c.g.i. horror films out today, it would be nice to see a tale like Seizure, a low budget film that is packed with high quality acting and writing.
Oliver Stone's feature film debut concerns a horror author named Edmund (played by Dark Shadows' Jonathon Frid) who is plagued by nightmares. When he and his wife have a bunch of guests up to their isolated house for a relaxing weekend. After a few go missing, Edmund's friends and family are confronted with three awful beings who are manifestations of his nightmares. The guests are either killed or forced to go through a series of tests to see who deserves to live. Can anyone put a stop to this hellish nightmare? What a strange film! It's obviously very low-budget and has a distinct gritty 70s quality. The characters from Edmund's dreams are each fascinating and truly make a scene. We have the lovely Martine Beswick as the provocative and sultry "Queen of Evil," who appears to be the matriarch of the evil trio. There's also the exotic strongman giant Jackal (Henry Judd Baker) and a dwarf named Spider (none other than Hervé Villechaize!) who may be tiny but is just as evil! The trio's antics are amusing, but also very unsettling. The cast also features Troy Donahue in a random role as well as the iconic Mary Woronov, who plays a straight-forward "bored wife" role (yet still oh so very funny!), proving again that she has much more to offer than the camp factor. The score in the film is very fascinating and varied. At one point, there's a sudden persistent and deafening siren-like synth that I swear was swiped by Tarantino for "Kill Bill." While the film is eerie and unpredictable most of the time, it also has a very charming sense of humor that suits it well. I'm thrilled this rare film finally made it to DVD, but it really deserves a better treatment. The print is hard to see, especially in the nighttime scenes. Still, any fan of 70s horror should check out this quirky and original film.
Historically important as the first filmmaking effort for the young
Oliver Stone, "Seizure" will likely not appeal to certain genre fans.
There's no gore - there are always cut aways when something violent
happens - there isn't much sleaze (although Mary Woronov looks mighty
fetching wearing very little), and the script tends to favour talk over
action. Still, if anything, "Seizure" is an interesting film. It could
be argued that there's simply too much exposition, but Stone and his
co-writer Edward Mann do give the film a philosophical nature. It's
definitely a thinking persons' horror film, albeit one with some decent
atmosphere and a respectable amount of weirdness.
'Dark Shadows' star Jonathan Frid plays Edmund Blackstone, a horror novelist who's having some friends over at his country home for the weekend. Edmund is plagued by nightmares, and soon these friends and Edmund & his family will fall prey to some characters that Edmund may have dreamed into existence. First is the Queen of Evil, played by sultry cult icon Martine Beswicke. Next is the hulking, scar faced Jackal (Henry Judd Baker). Finally, we have a malevolent dwarf named The Spider (played by Herve Villechaize of 'Fantasy Island' fame). They subject their victims to various cruel games, pitting character against character.
The acting is variable from a cast also including the super sexy Woronov, Joseph Sirola, Christina Pickles, Troy Donahue, and Richard Cox. Frid is fairly intense, and his scenes with Roger De Koven as his confidante Serge provide the film with a degree of humanity and thoughtfulness. De Koven is quite good, but it's Beswicke who steals the show; obviously she is enjoying herself. Villechaize (who was also the still photographer) is amusing, but his thick accent renders some of his dialogue hard to understand.
Worth a look for fans of Stone and his cast; it is intriguing now to see his humble beginnings.
Filmed in the Canadian province of Quebec.
Six out of 10.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Horror author Frid(..who portrayed Barnabas Collins on "Dark
Shadows")invites friends to his mountain estate where they are
threatened by three of his nightmare creations, come to life with a
thirst for bloodshed. The three, led by the delicious Martine
Beswick(..well cast)as a "Queen of evil", run these people through a
series of head games, allowing them no chance of escape with only one
afforded an opportunity to survive.
First time director Oliver Stone shows all the signs of being a new filmmaker. While I like natural lighting, in many instances, "Seizure" has scenes which are richly atmospheric(..the use of red is often striking and candle-light can often produce a great sense of mood)while other times(..especially outside in the woods)you can't see a thing. The violence is of the off-screen variety. I found the scenes where the screenplay attempts to explain who these venomous fiends are rather overwrought..I felt that if Stone and company had never given them exposition, it would've worked just as well. Beswick is why I'd recommend it for she is incredibly sexy, very seductive and quite dangerous..a great combination for a supernatural villainous. Some effective camera-work and odd musical arrangements help this film somewhat, but the editing often abruptly moves from one scene to another. I think Stone would fare better 8 years later with "The Hand." I must be painfully honest when I say(..and I got nothing but love for the dwarf population)that Herve Villechaize, as the knife-wielding "Spider", is about as scary as a Cabbage Patch Doll. He seems to be living it up as a nasty minion, in control of people's lives, foretelling how their fates are doomed and that praying to God was futile. Joseph Sirola is a hoot as millionaire blow-hard, Charlie Hughes, who thinks he can buy anyone with indie horror siren Mary Woronov(..looking fantastic)playing his adulterous wife, who only married him for his money. Woronov has an amusing knife-fight with Frid's Edmund. Frid brings the pathos generated by his tortured vampire from "Dark Shadows" to the role of Edmund, a tormented artist who has given birth to the monsters of his creative genius. There are some great make-up sequences such as when Anne Meacham's Eunice Kahn, the type who invested her entire soul into her beautiful face, receiving a hideous mask provided by Spider, and Beswick's ghoulish face drawing towards Edmund, as her cape opens. Also Henry Judd Baker's Jackal, the third evil nightmare killer, an executioner, has a nasty scar on the side of his face that is rather unpleasant to gaze upon, although he's mostly hidden within the darkness of night. Another concern perhaps for this film is that the viewer has few to root for besides Edmund's wife and child, true victims of his demons. Roger De Koven's Serge Kahn is Edmund's confident, who believes that the supernatural killers are historical menaces from centuries ago.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
I agree with the previous reviewer who talked about the amazing casting
done for this film. Hervé Villechaize was absolutely legit as the
totally heartless Spider, and I have to admit gaining a new respect for
him as a serious actor.
Martine Beswick puts a lot of movie villainesses to shame with her "so cold, it's hot" take on the Queen of Evil. She even manages to make her strangulation of Troy Donahue look alluring.
But for me, as viewer and as female, star Jonathan Frid makes the movie. He finally gets to move beyond Barnabas Collins a bit in the decidedly non-menacing main role of Edmund Blackstone. As the previous reviewer couldn't take his eyes off Ms. Beswick, I couldn't possibly look away when Mr. Frid was in the frame. The scene where the Queen of Evil attempts to seduce Edmund is still very steamy indeed.
As for the plot, it is, by today's standards, very pedestrian. Yet, even though you know what's coming, you still get entertained when it occurs. Worth a look-see if you get the chance.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
I remember viewing this many years ago on video and loved it and now
recently I came across this title again and gave it another viewing and
again enjoyed it. Given the fact that this was made by a well known
director Oliver Stone, you'd think that this movie would be better
known, its shame that it isn't because I would love to own this movie
The set a writer Edmund is having a weekend get together with family and friends, then three of the characters he created in his mind have somehow come to life, an evil queen, a dwarf and a scarred executioner have gate crashed the party and have taken the group hostage and are forced through a series of strange tests so that by sunrise only one of them will be left, just one.
This isn't your typical stalk and slash feature, as some of the deaths are really strange and plus some of the stuff don't quite make sense, but in my opinion that's all part of this movie's charm, and okay I wouldn't say that this movie's to everyone's taste, but the gritty realism of the situation does send you an uneasy feeling inside. There are several scenes that are strange but fun, like the knife fight between the main man and the trophy wife was a hoot, and when 5 of the characters are forced to race each other which were nerve racking.
I also loved the quirky arrangement of characters, which makes the whole thing more interesting, the main star Edmund is played very well by Jonathon Frid and his wife Nicole also played very well by Christina Pickles (Ross's mom from Friends), nice to see her in her younger days, and see her in something different, very likable, Roger De Koven as Serge was also decent as was the loopy wife Eunice (Anna Meecham) who I would have liked to have seen more off as she was fun and the tragic outcome of what happens to her was quite moving. But the millionaire and his wife stole the show for me, Joe Sirola was outrageous as the pervy millionaire who hates his trophy wife and Mary Wornovo was also a highlight, especially with they're banter which I found great.
The movie is acted well by the cast Martine Bestwick clearly steals the show as the evil queen balancing out nicely with her beauty and then deadly at the drop of a hat and stealing every scene she's in and convincingly commanding authority from the terrified guests. Spider the dwarf (Henry Villechaize) was also very good and was brilliant when he jumps through the window and starts attacking the guests which was a highlight of this movie and no one should dismiss because of his size, he's just as convincing as the other 2 and finally Jackal the axe man, stone silent and looks scary and terrify you even when he just stands there. Stone smartly keeps the invaders rarely glimpsed until the suspense is heightened to its fullest extent.
All in all Seizure is a decent movie, okay does have a few flaws and it does cut away from the bloody stuff, but I enjoyed it.
Horror writer Jonathan Frid (as Edmund Blackstone) gathers friends and
family for an extended visit at his spooky home in the country.
Planning to pen a nightmarish novel for children, Mr. Frid is plagued
by bad dreams (and Mary Woronov in black underwear). Unfortunately, the
"Dream Curse" seems to extend to Frid's house-guests, who are
victimized by a fantastical trio of uninvited gatecrashers - beautiful
Martine Beswick (the Queen), quirky Hervé Villechaize (the Dwarf), and
menacing Henry Baker (the Giant). Eventually, the murderers threaten
Frid's wife Christina Pickles (as Nicole) and cute son Timothy Ousey
The excellent cast, which could be described as "soap opera horror," also includes Roger De Koven (as Serge Kahn) and Anne Meacham (as Eunice Kahn). Several US daytime stars appear, with Frid's "Dark Shadows" being an obvious influence on writer/director Oliver Stone. Mr. Baker also appeared on the TV classic, in a role similar to the one he plays here. Generational icons include Troy Donahue (the 1950s), Frid (the 1960s), and Mr. Villechaize (the 1970s). Jack-of-all-trades Joseph Sirola (as "Uncle" Charlie Hughes) and risqué Richard Cox (as Gerald) are a tightly clad couple. Hopefully, deleted scenes are still a possibility.
****** Seizure (1974) Oliver Stone ~ Jonathan Frid, Martine Beswick, Herve Villechaize, Joe Sirola
I don't think any of the people who have commented on this film have seen
it. I have the pleasure of buying the original video
for this film at $5 (Amazon sell its for a laughable $20),
I wasn't disappointed.
Oliver Stone, the legend, the man, Vietnam Viet, makes his directing debut with this great horror flick about a writer (Jonathan Frid from Dark Shadows), who keeps having his nightmares that he is about to die, along with the rest of his family. This is a great flick, lots of suspense, some gore, and a twist at the end.
I have no doubt this flick inspired movies like "Nightmare On Elm Street" with it's emphasis on evil, illusions and nightmares that come to life.
Very hard to find, but it's well worth.
Oliver Stone can do it all.
That's right ladies and gentlemen, Dark Shadows star Jonathan Frid stars in this shocker about a writer who has a recurring dream of three strange visitors who come to his home and reak havoc on all of his house guests. Herve Villechaize is wonderful in his role as the evil Spider. See Mary Woronov battle to the death with Johnathan Frid in hand to hand combat!
Oliver Stone's first film was this unpleasant but fascinating and clever thriller, which blurs the line between dreams and reality in a way that would later become very popular in the "Nightmare On Elm Street" films. The film is technically unpolished, with a crummy look and often inept editing. But it is also a disturbing experience that offers no easy redemptions, and as such it is recommended especially to people who enjoy films like "Alice, Sweet Alice". (**)
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