The film plots a child's descent into madness without the guiding forces of a benevolent adult. After the mysterious nasty death of both his Roaring '20s party animal parents, young David is left in the care of his prudish, restrictive aunt, who refuses to let him indulge in his adolescent instincts. Written by
The producers of the Friday the 13th franchise, which began production shortly after this film was released, had to negotiate a settlement with this film's producers in order to use the title. See more »
Not good but interesting--and certainly offbeat--70's horror/art flick
This is one of those films that kind of fall into the unfortunate "no man's land" between art and exploitation. I can't really claim that I found it either wildly entertaining or artistically brilliant, but it is more interesting than some of the other reviews make it sound. There aren't. for instance, too many other American horror movies based on a short story by a renowned British-Indian author or that feature a title song by 70's folk singer Janis "Seventeen" Ian (the alternate choice I guess was Leonard Cohen which REALLY would have been interesting). There are only three, not especially bloody, murders, which makes the "Friday the 13th" retitling kind of unfortunate (even though this came out a year or so before the slasher series). It is bound to disappoint somewhat as a horror movie, let alone if you're expecting a "Friday the 13th" style gorefest.
This is a movie about a young boy whose frequently absent father, an African explorer, has been killed in an unfortunate accident which also indirectly claimed his mother. His stern, disapproving aunt comes to take care of him and tries to bend him to her will. She chases away an African associate of his father's who is staying at the house (and is apparently the lonely boy's only friend), she intentionally kills his pet chicken, and accidentally kills his dog. The boy also has a complicated and (at least on his end) somewhat sexual relationship with the family maid, but their relationship curdles after he hides in a closet and listens to her having sex with her boyfriend. He eventually goes crazy and ends up reverting into a kind of "Lord of the Flies" mode, worshipping a stuffed gorilla called "Charlie" as a kind of pagan god and waging war against his well-intentioned but wrongheaded aunt. Needless to say, things do not end well.
This movie was apparently made over a ten year period(!) and it shows in some of the uneven direction and seemingly random plot twists. Some of the acting, especially that of the main child actor, is pretty weak. Still it is one of these movies that is interesting simply because it so far out of the generally accepted cinematic universe that it would never get made today. It's not very good perhaps, but it still might be worth checking out, especially if you like offbeat 70's films like I do.
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