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Just got finished watching this Omen-inspired, Exorcist-derived, 1970s Italo-American horror-movie-lookalike on the recently released, high-definition, Italian-language only DVD (with English subs). And while I can't say much in the way of the film's originality, I've got to say that this is the little-film-that-could in many ways. Wanna go back to the days of burgeoning, high-budget, high-class, artfully framed 70's horror flicks? Here's your ticket.
First of all this film (which chronicles the somewhat lackluster "adventures" of a BBC documentarist on his trip to Spoleto to do a flick about representations of demons in old paintingsand his young daughter is somehow possessed by an "evil" medallion) is absolutely GORGEOUS to look at. In fact, the film is more an eyeful than all of the American possession-themed horror movies combined. The use of colors is vibrant, the carefully crafted shots are very painterly themselves, and every frame seems bathed in the heavenly filtered sunlight that oddly only seems to exist in 70's films for some strange reason. And the splendid beauty of the Italian landscape is breathtakingit seeps through in practically every shot. The high-def transfer (distributed by Mostra Internationale d'Arte Cinematografica under the title "Il Medaglione InsanguinatoPerche?") does justice to the vision of both the director and cinematographer. Wow, this movie looks simply awesome.
Of course, the fact that it is solidly stuck in the mid-70's doesn't bother me either. This is one of those films that screams "70s'-armageddon-satanist-Omen-Exorcist-ripoff-era films," with all of the now-new-again fashions and funky furniture intact. But it pulls off the imitation with much grandeur. This isn't a schlocky film by any means; it appears to have been carefully written (the dialogue isn't completely inane) and, as mentioned, even more carefully photographed. And frankly, to shoo away its plot by saying it is simply a replica of the aforesaid America products isn't quite honest. This film actually deals with art, documentary film-making, and a girl who happens to become possessed (yes .but) by a piece of strange jewelry. Derivative, I grant you. But not cookie cutter by any means. The players are a strange quadrangle as wella father and his young daughter (with saccharine memories of a recently departed mother/wife in a fiery "accident"), the American TV producer love interest, and the super glum Nanny of the little girl. (Either of the latter two could make a possible match for the widowerand that's where things get a little more interesting than standard fare). The acting isn't half bad eitherJoanna Cassidy is 70's beautiful, and who doesn't like Richard Johnson in a 70's horror film? (By the way, 2005 must be the year of Richard Johnson, since "Beyond the Door" was also recentlyand finallyreleased on DVD, as "Diabolica," on a Japanese label).
One last good point: Strong score by Stelvio Cipriani. It feels like a reasonable ripoff of a Ennio Morricone score of the same era and for the same type of film. Sad but melodic music, punctuated by strumming guitars, the ever-present harpsichord riff, and sappy violins. Hummable.
But the film is boring. Action? Uh, not really. In fact, even calling it a supernatural horror movie is being generous. The supernatural stuff doesn't happen until the wee last moments of the film. It seems we wait an eternity for the girl's possession-powers to come into full swingbut looking at the scenery (the mountains, the decaying villas, old statues, the gardens, and green pastures) and listening to the unmistakable-genre-defining 70's "sad horror movie music" in the meantime is fabulous. Even when the supernatural stuff starts flying, it is very sedate. Nothing even close to graphic here. Perhaps this movie is really only eye candy and nothing else. But any old crap that whisks me away from today's crap (remake of "The Fog," anyone?) is welcome on my screen anytime.
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