A vengeful witch and her fiendish servant return from the grave and begin a bloody campaign to possess the body of the witch's beautiful look-alike descendant, with only the girl's brother and a handsome doctor standing in her way.
There is panic throughout the nation as the dead suddenly come back to life. The film follows a group of characters who barricade themselves in an old farmhouse in an attempt to remain safe from these bloodthirsty, flesh-eating monsters.
Mary Henry is enjoying the day by riding around in a car with two friends. When challenged to a drag, the women accept, but are forced off of a bridge. It appears that all are drowned, until Mary, quite some time later, amazingly emerges from the river. After recovering, Mary accepts a job in a new town as a church organist, only to be dogged by a mysterious phantom figure that seems to reside in an old run-down pavilion. It is here that Mary must confront the personal demons of her spiritual insouciance.Written by
Rick Gregory <email@example.com>
This film was shot on location in Salt Lake City, UT, and Lawrence, KS, with interior shots at the Centron Studios in Lawrence. Centron was an industrial film company, producing industrial and educational films and "social guidance" short subjects from the 1950s into the 1960s. Most of this film's technical staff, including director Herk Harvey and screenwriter John Clifford, were Centron employees. See more »
The coffee cups are translucent when the neighbor brings coffee which reveals that only an inch has been poured in each and that they're not drinking. See more »
[when Mary does not drink the glass of beer he ordered for her at a bar]
What's the matter? Don't you drink?
Well, I do. And not only do I drink really, I really drink.
See more »
The films opening credits fade in and out, scattered across the footage of the flowing river. See more »
The is finest film ever made in America, barr none. That it was directed by a professional documentarian on what appears to be a budget of a hundred bucks, with a cast of total unknowns, only makes it all the more remarkable. First, let's get the 'low-budget' issue out of the way, because during the later '80s this film developed a following among those who especially admire cheap films. Applying that to this film is a big mistake. This film isn't about money, it's about cinema - what you can and cannot do with a camera and an editing board, using whatever it is one has to work with.
As with all pure cinema - from Citizen Kane to the Wild Bunch, from the Battleship Potemkin to the Seven Samurai - this film works on many levels at the same time. It is, first, an effective ghost story, in fact probably the only instance of a film that has a real ghost story to tell (most ghost-story films are really horror movies or romances). Then it is also an uncompromising psychological analysis of female frigidity. It is also surrealistic psycho-drama, but it is also a genuine slice of Americana - the film certainly has resonance with the films of Swedish director Ingmar Bergman, but it is determined to present its American characters in their American locations as American, and not as europhilic wannabes. Consequently it is also an historical document of what America was like in the early '60s - really a kind of weird place by today's standards.
One of the qualities that makes a film 'pure cinema' is that the viewer should, on reflection, feel utterly convinced that there is not a camera shot out of place, not a wasted moment, not an image or sound we don't need to have the complete film before us. But of course while watching the film, we should be so captivated by it, we set our critical mind to rest. Despite the darkness of its themes and images, this film drags us along like some obsessive-compulsion we didn't even know we had.
Finally, when watching a truly great film, when the final credit rolls, we should feel as if we have actually experienced the film, not simply watched it. This quality does diminish after repeated viewing - when you find yourself reciting the dialog by heart, you know that you've passed onto the level of remembering the film's experience, rather than living it. But certainly, after the initial viewing we should feel as though we have been changed by the film, and that we now look at the world through different eyes.
This film is really about the fundamental puritanism that remains the core of the American world-view. It treats that world-view with both outrage, sympathy, and even, if one pays close attention, a touch of humor. The souls in this movie are lost souls - but its their carnival, after all; and we're welcomed to it any time we care to visit. However, be forewarned: once inside, we may have to stay.
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