2 out of 4 people found the following review useful:
A General Lack Of Style Prevents Accurate Cinematic Conversion Of Bierce Classic Tale.
rsoonsa (firstname.lastname@example.org) from Mountain Mesa, California
9 March 2006
One of Ambrose Bierce's most acclaimed fables of the supernatural,
generally published as part of the collection of his shorter works
titled "Tales of Soldiers and Civilians", is freely modified for this
film from producer Shelley Duvall's "Nightmare Classics" series, and
this effort fails to establish that requisite mood of grotesquerie that
Bierce masters, with a result that the piece seems merely absurd.
Although baldly a melodrama, Bierce does not depart from his signature
cynicism; however, a cinematic treatment of a narrative so brief and
intense as this one is best actualized through extensive use of
voice-over relation, as well as adherence to the original dialogue and
events, fundamentals that are not accomplished in this affair, as it in
fact has largely been in Michael Barton's more convincing 2005 version,
filmed in Los Angeles. The setting is Bierce's native, and favoured
literary, region of the Ohio River Valley during the formative years of
the United States, when the young nation's Far West was what is now its
Midwest, the storyline depicting the possession of a young woman's
quintessence by a black panther, certainly a rather queer premise to
accept, and one that needs a talented cast on board in order to implant
and maintain audience interest. C. Thomas Howell's acting long suit
appears to be noirish roles and is not persuasive in either of his
character displays here - - as a young lover or as an old man with his
performance in the latter part quite risible and not served by
substandard makeup effects. Female lead Daphne Zuniga, whose best
physical attributes are from her neck up, is fortunately able to remain
clad throughout this film, doubly felicitous for a viewer because the
costumes are well-designed and historically accurate, to boot.
Utilization of an actual black panther is not ably shot at the film's
end, weakening the climax, and the overall rather shoddy quality of the
production extends even to the home video box that illustrates Zuniga
as being pregnant, whereas in reality another actress, Ruth de Sosa,
playing as her mother, was in that state, a critical plot element.
Duvall's artistic success with her Faerie Tale Theatre was not often
matched in this series.
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