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'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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
Seizure features an obvious low budget and as such there is a very cheap feel to it. However, Oliver Stone gets over this problem well thanks to some very capable handling and an entertaining cast. The simple plot means that the director has plenty of time to build up his characters, and he does this well. The central location is isolated and that helps to build the tension as the innocent characters are trapped in the house at the centre of the film. The set of bad guys is undoubtedly the most interesting thing about the film; Martine Beswick leads the way as sultry 'Queen of Evil' and gets good back up from an exotic looking strongman as well as a menacing dwarf named 'Spider'. Things are kept interesting thanks to the immediate action and the dialogue between the central characters, as well as a few revelations. It all builds down to a satisfying conclusion that gives credence to the plot and main character. It's a shame this film is so obscure really because I'm sure it could find an audience and it's certainly not the worst film Oliver Stone ever made! Recommended, if you can find it.
The true strength of the movie comes from the casting of several iconic actors and actresses from various places ("Dark Shadows" and elsewhere). Though I had not seen any of these actors elsewhere, I give complements to the performances of both the dwarf actor Herve Villachaize and Martine Beswicke as the Queen of Evil. Beswicke, in particular, is the most darkly beautiful actress I have ever seen, and I could not keep my eyes off her whenever she was in a scene. Casting her as the ultimate villainess was a stroke of genius. I'm even tempted to say that her performance is the one best reason for seeing this movie (which is surprising, because Stone has never been very good at creating compelling female characters). Otherwise, there is little here to predict Stone's master craftsmanship on virtually all his films from the late '80s through early '90s.
* INTERESTING SIDENOTE: the newscaster voice narration at the end of the movie as the credits roll is that of Oliver Stone himself.
How anyone ever thought this was worth making is beyond me.
Right from the get go, we are introduced to the lead, who makes you want to turn the movie off from the start - he is gross to listen to, look at, and has no personality other than being scared.
None of the other characters may as well exist at all either. None of them serve any real purpose or add anything to the story or make us feel anything. No comedic relief, no real horror, no characters or character development - just a non-threatening midget and a silent big black guy chasing a bunch of people around inside and outside of a house on a lake.
Typically I am a fan of BIZARRE movies, and I at least will admit this is one of the more bizarre films I have ever seen. But it simply doesn't offer a single thing that is in any way slightly enjoyable. It is truly one of those films where you are just asking yourself "Why am I still watching this? How did this get made? Why does this exist?" the entire time.
Mr. Stone has come a long way.
I agree with several previous posters -- Herve Villechaize is NOT very menacing, and at times even comes off as unintended comedy. At least the other two villains make up for that. Also, it was jolting to see Jonathan Frid is such a pedestrian role, which definitely under-utilized his enormous talents.
But I think the basic problem with "Seizure" is in the storyline. The evil trio that are conjured up from Frid's mind are seen too early and too often. They appear to everyone at once, and announce their (murky) plans too early in the picture. In fact, Stone takes this idea and literally shoves it in the viewer's face, with a series of challenges for the guests; challenges that it doesn't seem like they have any chance of winning, anyway. How much more effective would have been keeping the evil ones in the shadows, preying on each house guest in turn, sowing confusion and doubt among the remaining house guests, who don't know who or what is causing the carnage. By having the trio appear early on, to all the "assembled guests", and announcing their plan (confusing as that plan is), much potential for tension and suspense are lost.
Also, a more gradual appearance of the evil ones would indicate Frid is slowing losing control of his subconscious. To have Frid subconsciously conjure up these baddies, because he's got hidden grudges against his wife and friends, would have been a far more logical plot device. Instead of having Frid play an intended victim from the get-go, it would have worked better to have him slowing becoming helpless to control the menace he's created, with mixed feelings of guilt and satisfaction as his shallow, superficial friends are killed off. The plot Stone offers up is confusing as to the origins and, most importantly, the motivations of the evil trio, and never gives any explanation why Frid, from whose mind they came from, can exercise absolutely no control over them. Confusing is the word that best sums up the whole picture, and the end feels like a total cheat. Better to have some great showdown in which Frid is finally able to banish the creations of his own tormented mind.
Oliver Stone has done some notable work in his career, but sadly "Seizure" is not among them.
Director Oliver Stone, who also co-wrote the quirky and thoughtful script with Edward Mann, relates the offbeat and intriguing story at a steady pace, maintains a suitably harsh and grim tone throughout, provides an extra cerebral dimension which gives this picture its own singular identity, and offers an idiosyncratic, yet provocative philosophical exploration on vice, wickedness, and such basic human foibles as greed, lust, vanity, and cowardice. The sound acting by the capable cast keeps this movie humming: Christina Pickles as Edmund's long-suffering wife Nicola, Joseph Sirola as arrogant and obnoxious rich jerk Charlie Hughes, a stupendously slinky and sexy Mary Woronov as Charlie's fed-up hottie trophy wife Mikki, Troy Donahue as hunky stud Mark Frost, Richard Cox as the dissolute Gerald, Anne Meacham as aging and selfish neurotic Eunice Kahn, and Roger De Koven as the gentle and easygoing Serge. Henry Judd Baker cuts a truly frightening figure as hulking and disfigured mute strongman Jackal while Herve Villechaize has a total field day as twisted and vicious dwarf The Spider. Roger Racine's hyperactive cinematography adds a crackling jolt of gritty energy. Lee Gagnon's varied score alternates between folksy tunefulness and more standard shivery ooga-booga stuff. A nifty one-of-a-kind curio.