Legend says that Antonio Bay was built in 1880 with blood money obtained from shipwrecked lepers but no one believes it. On the eve of the town's centennial many plan to attend the celebrations, including the murdered lepers.
Jamie Lee Curtis,
A group of high-schoolers invite Mandy Lane, a good girl who became quite hot over the summer, to a weekend party on a secluded ranch. While the festivities rage on, the number of revelers begins to drop quite mysteriously.
In 1966, in North Bend, Oregon, the runaway Kristen is captured by the police after burning down a farmhouse and is locked in the North Bend Psychiatric Hospital. Kristen is introduced to Dr. Gerald Stringer, who uses experimental therapy. Then she meets the inmates Emily, Sarah, Zoey and Iris and the tough nurse Lundt. During the night and in the shower later, Kristen sees the ghost of a woman and she learns that she is Alice Leigh Hudson, a mysterious wicked intern that has disappeared. When Iris is ready to go home, she is attacked by the ghost of Alice in the basement and murdered. She vanishes and the inmates decide to seek Iris out. Then Sarah is abducted by the Alice and also killed; the next one is Emily. Meanwhile Kristen escapes from her room and meets Zoey, expecting to protect her. However, Zoey is kidnapped by Alice and Kristen runs to Dr. Stringer's office. She snoops his desk and finds a report with the truth about Alice. Written by
Claudio Carvalho, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
Shortly after the ghost cuts the girl's throat, Dr. Stringer is holding Kristen while the nurse is giving her a shot. When it cuts to a close up of the shot, Dr. Stringer is gone, then reappears after the camera cuts back. See more »
The Ward is an adequate horror film but could have been directed by anyone; after such a long hiatus one would expect John Carpenter to produce something much, much better.
The film suffers from a fairly weak script (not penned by Carpenter) and the big "surprise" ending is easily deduced very early in the film. As other reviewers here have noted, the "horror" elements are basically comprised of things jumping out variety; if you expect mood and atmosphere (e.g. Escape from NY, The Thing, Prince of Darkness)--THINK AGAIN.
It would appear the film was made on an extremely low budget; 95% of the movie takes place indoors; most of it in just a few rooms. The set design adequately portrays 1966 (the film's setting), however the wardrobe, makeup and hairstyles of the primary actresses are anachronistic and undermine suspension of disbelief.
Let me expand on that last point as it betrays an artistic compromise I was surprised to see JC make; every one of the main actresses is dolled up--in a modern way. Their hair is cut, dyed, streaked, and styled in a completely modern manner. And although they're supposedly in a mental ward, they apparently put copious amounts of makeup on each and every day. And it's not old-style makeup; in one scene, a female lead character is clearly wearing lip gloss. One woman wears Ronsir Shuron (geek) glasses, however her look is much more "hipster" than it is authentic. Oh, the clothes the "patients" wear--let's just say they're colorful and fabulous...not what I'd expect to find in a mid-60s mental ward. One more thing in this area; all the primary women actresses are beautiful. This is a common element in modern "horror" films where style trumps substance; unfortunately I expected JC to make more of an effort to set an atmosphere where I'm less likely to ogle the actresses than I am to be sucked into the nightmare he's trying to portray.
Having seen every Carpenter film (in the theatre) over the past 30 years, I am disappointed that I was forced to watch the master release this nearly direct-to-DVD title. If you're a JC fan, by all means watch this, but don't expect more than a slightly above-average horror film. The biggest disappointment is that the film was directed by Carpenter and I'm left wondering if this is the best he can do, or if he was hemmed in by a small budget and producers who demanded he make a more cookie-cutter type film.
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