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When a group of friends land their plane on a presumably deserted island they stay with couple Ma and Pa and their over grown children until; they can get their plane fixed. Just too bad the while family is insane and our victims start dying off one by one. A lock of gore allows the viewers to concentrate on more important things like atmosphere and character developement. Although all the performances in this often chilling and sometimes amusing chiller are sound it is Rod Steiger who gives an goulishy creepy performace as Pa. Although it is often predictable and a lot of what happenes goes unexplained you'll be to entertained to care.
This movie has a storyline that is truly bizarre, but that is what makes it so good. It shows us how strange, demented movies can still show us a good time. It is a greatly underrated movie. Those horrible B-movie fans, this is a must!
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
This movie has something going for it which I can't exactly pin-point.
It left me with mixed feelings. I must say that I find "American
Gothic" an appropriate title with a grim/sarcastic twist to it. Now
that doesn't say a lot about the movie, now does it? Some people may
pass it off as an average slasher-flick, but it's just a little bit
more profound than that.
The story-line, at first, doesn't seem to offer much. We have a group of young adults who decide to go on a holiday to a remote island. Their plane breaks down and they have to land on an unknown island. While investigating it, they stumble upon an empty house. Not so empty, it seems, as the odd old couple Ma and Pa appear at the doorstep...
This movie shows a lot of similarities with THE Texas CHAINSAW MASSACRE. There the family consists of cannibalistic madmen; in American Gothic they are catholic fanatics. While TCM is a suspenseful and sickening screamfest, AG relies more on its creepy atmosphere and disturbing themes.
Rod Steiger and Yvonne De Carlo both give a decent performance as the weird and threatening Pa & Ma. As the movie progresses we discover that they also have some 'adult children' who behave like 12-year-olds while being actually around 50 years old. A good thing is that they are not introduced at the same time, so after a while you start wondering how many more of these freaks there are in this family. Their performances are also rather eerie. The rest of the cast is however pretty bad.
So this family has been living on this island for many years following one motto: All outsiders are sinners and must die, in God's name... And so they do (one highlight amongst the killings involves a swinging rope and the edge of a cliff). I do find, however, that the killings could have used a little more on-screen gory bloodshed considering the brutal nature of them. But the corpses do tend to 'hang around' (pun-intended). Other disturbing themes this movie has are necrophilia and incest. Though we never get to see these acts, the idea alone is sick enough. Further more it raises questions about parental education going horribly wrong and obsessive religious behaviour.
A lot of movies have a character in it which has had a traumatic experience in his/her life, which is explained to the viewer often by annoying flashbacks, which have completely nothing to do with the main story-line. I hate it when that happens. American Gothic also has such a sub-plot involving Cynthia. The bad thing: It's executed very poorly and the subplot itself is an insult to the intelligence of every young mother. While bathing her baby (in a full-size bath) Cynthia rushes off to answer the phone downstairs. Then she has to run to the kitchen to check on a stew which was cooking in the meantime. I think I do not have to say what happens to the baby... The good thing: the traumatic experience runs through the movie like a continuous thread (stupid at first; clever & gruesome in the end). The ending itself is rather good, so I won't give it away. But I can tell you this: After almost every youngster is killed, you'd expect this movie to end, but it doesn't. It goes on a little bit longer providing us a few surprises.
One final word about the musical score. Over the opening credits we hear this ridiculous theme along the lines of the DALLAS TV-show. Very bad and totally not suitable for this type of movie. But when our youngsters arrive at the island, the soundtrack changes using dark cellos, undefinable scraping sounds, drowsy slide guitars,... And it works, all adding up to the creepyness of the movie.
If you stuck with me and read this review, I think you can understand my mixed feelings about this movie. And though I do not consider it to be a bad movie, I can't recommend it as a masterpiece either. All I can say is: give it a try, it has something going for it, you figure out what.
...Now if I could just get my hands on that other controversial John Hough movie: THE INCUBUS... He got me curious with this one.
A group of twentysomethings are stranded on an island off the coast of Washington and find refuge with an odd couple named Ma and Pa (Yvonne De Carlo and Rod Steiger). Things get odd quickly as the family introduces a trio of infantile adult offspring (Janet Wright, Michael J. Pollard and William Hootkins) that like to play and kill. With a cover riffing on the famous Grant Wood painting, you can pretty much expect this one to be tongue-in-cheek. And while the story isn't anything beyond cliché, it is worth seeing for the performances of Steiger and his demented family. I mean, how can you not appreciate a film that casts Michael J. Pollard and William Hootkins as retarded brothers? Or features Steiger whipping Hootkins with a switch; not because he killed a girl but because he killed her and then had sex with her. Wright is the stand out as the creepy Fanny, who is in her forties but thinks she is Shirley Temple and dresses accordingly. Gross. Director John Hough gets good use out of the forest (British Columbia) location. Like I said, worth seeing for all of the actors as the villains.
The movie is about a group of friends who are going on a trip when their plane breaks down so they are forced to land in the middle of nowhere........ Soon to find a house where they are greeted by an older couple who let the group of friends stay in their home....... very creepy,twisted things start to happen! The plot line may seem cheesy but this movie is far from it...must watch!!!!!! This movie is definitely one of the best horror films I've ever watched. I'm not sure where you can find this movie I recently tried renting it from Hollywood Video and Blockbuster but neither of them carried it....maybe Netflix?
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
For reasons they took to their graves, Rod Steiger and Yvonne De Carlo
star as Bible-thumping, apple pie-eating, guest-killing inhabitants of
a remote island. When some young Seattle adventurers crash their plane
en route to a camping trip, they stumble upon Ma and Pa and their
strange family of middle-aged "children."
The family doesn't take kindly to swearing, fornicating or smoking, and many of the guests meet unfortunate ends when they don't follow the family's rules. But one guest has a tragic past that she turns to her advantage.
"American Gothic" is interesting strictly for its big-name stars plumbing the depths of their careers. As a B-movie, it rates a C. I was never bored, but I was never captivated, either. "American Gothic" is so bad it's ... well, just very average.
(**1/2 out of *****)
I thought this was, to say the least, interesting in a twisted, almost
humorously campy kind of way. Rod Steiger and Yvonne De Carlo play a
self-righteous husband and wife who live on an isolated island with their
homicidal, full-grown `children' and refuse to accept the modern views and
liberties of the 20th century (the great video box picture is a twisted
spoof of Grant Wood's famous painting of the same name, with Steiger's
farmer `Pa' character holding a bloody pitchfork and De Carlo's `Ma'
gripping a butcher knife.) Sarah Torgov plays a mentally unstable woman
becomes stranded on the island with four of her friends when their
plane malfunctions. Naturally, the friends are essential to the plot only
as far as they can be picked off in grisly slasher fashion. But the movie
strives to delve a bit deeper in its second half, exploring Torgov's own
psychosis as she snaps and is accepted into the family as one of their
It doesn't always work, but you do get Steiger in one of his eccentric,
scene-stealing, B-movie roles and you also get one of my favorite
actors, Michael J. Pollard, as one of the demented, overgrown
HIGHLIGHT: One character is goaded by the `kids' into riding on a rope swing hanging over a steep cliff only to have one of them cut the rope with an axe and send him soaring far out into the rocky sea below.
I couldn't sleep the night I watched "American Gothic" for the first time.
(I've seen it twice more since.) Unlike "Nightmare on Elm Street" which
could only happen in a nightmare, this movie was so real...highly unusual,
It's possible to be stranded on an island and meet strange seemingly "backwards" people who seem innocent enough, but have a twisted view of what's right and wrong, and an insane idea that they are in charge of other people's actions. I've known people like Ma and Pa, who you wouldn't want to mess with if you pulled off the faux sheep cover.
Every inch of this movie could have happened to any one of us, the insanity, the self-righteousness, the hideousness, the out-of-this world notions--well maybe not every piece. I mean, what parents would allow their adult children to behave that way?
The most amazing way that this movie affected me, was that I cheered Cynthia on in the end---and that scares me, because, like I said-- "It could have happened to me....or you!!"
If you want to be baffled and scared to death, watch "American Gothic". It will make you think twice about the people you come in contact with.
We have seen the storyline a million times before. So it had to have something special, but it failed. okay, it's old school horror but you can tell that it was made at the end of the slashers era. horror wasn't the thing anymore and the glory days were over. Here they tried to make a kind of early Wrong Turn or those other don't go there movies. The acting is okay but somehow the story failed to give you the creeps. The best thing is the flashbacks of one of the victims. The effects are cheap and the blood flows but not enough. Some parts are way too long, and sometimes you can see it coming from miles away that the victim will die. Over here in Europe the movie isn't available that easy so you will have to catch it in Germany or the US. It's watchable on a Saturday afternoon just before the family arrives. Could have been better...
This movie was great. I loved this movie. I rented in September two years ago this movie is better than all of the Halloween's put togther I like this Movie 1. It has a lot of familiar names in it (Yvonne De Carlo, Janet Write, Fiona Hutchison, Rod Stieger) I had some people watch it on New Years they liked it. My grandparents watched this and actually sat through it. right there that tells you it has to be good! Go see it you won't regret it.
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