Where to start...Well, this film had a very profound effect on me as a young teenager when I first saw it late at night around 1985. The effect is still the same to this day. I was so overwhelmed by the feel of this movie that I became obsessed with finding all the filming locations after I saw it again in 1988. I am also astonished at how under-rated this gem is.
I'm a big fan of classic 1970's Canadian cult films and this tops my list. Yes it even beats out other Canadian 1970's horrors gems like: Deranged, Black Christmas, Death Weekend and Rituals. There is just so much going on here: including the complex and eerie soundtrack which adds to the overall feel. This piece of music is an unknown masterpiece, that goes through minor and major chord sequences and changes key with each round. The camera used brings out that 1970's feel to its extreme. There is comedy interchanged within the dialogue and the horror, and the actor choices were spot on.
Eugene Levy (Clifford) and Andrea Martin (Gloria) of SCTV fame were cast well as the main characters. They start out driving in the snowy wilds of Ontario looking for a place to stay. The two come to Farnhamville (Beaverton) and are mystically controlled into staying there by the townsfolk. They end up staying at the old Oak Inn (Oak Ridges) and the hotel owner, May Jarvis, takes them back in time when she tells them a story of a legend involving three girls who methodically lure unsuspecting men to their century farm house (Aurora), in which each is systematically murdered and chopped up for feasting on. These feasts give the girls everlasting life. The scene involving one of the men being tied seductively to the bed by the girls is very effective (he is eaten alive after all). We soon learn who is really in control, however.
Enter Ronald Ulrich-- one must experience the work done by this consummate stage professional, who plays the Reverend Alex St. John. This was his second foray into the movie business (and sadly his last). This guy nails the character to a T. His look and his voice bring this character to life. He still terrifies me. Not only was he naturally mesmerizing, but also had a very comedic sense which he brought to the table (literally). His lines delivered to Clifford are priceless--humour done with a slight smirk. His power over the 3 girls is also intoxicating. They will do anything for him, including singing an eerie song in unison when he recites lines from Shakespeare. Had any other actor played this part it just would not have worked.
Eventually things become more and more confusing and horrific for the couple. Much has been said on the dream sequence and I personally don't buy it. Other films offer more confusing dream sequences (Nightmare on Elm Street for example) but no one seemed to ever complain about those. For me, the dream sequence adds to the overall mind game the Reverend is able to play. In fact, the Reverend has one more thing up his sleeve. He is going to make Gloria the 4th Cannibal Girl and he is going to get her to murder her own partner in the process. How does the Rev get her to do this and how does Gloria finish Clifford off? Watch the movie to find out. The girls will live forever on human flesh and its implied that the townsfolk of Farnhamville will too. Soon Gloria will be dining with her new family. The family table is covered in Clifford's flesh and organs- her initial moral judgment against such acts are overcome as she partakes at the feast.
Lastly, May Jarvis is seen back at her hotel where she welcomes a new couple with the same story she told Clifford and Gloria, confirming the assumption that the whole town is in on the Reverend's scheme.
Ps- I was quite upset at the cover art on the DVD. The Reverend and all three girls looked nothing like those pictured. The Reverend on the cover doesn't even suit the part.
Ivan Reitman would go on do another classic called Meatballs, the best and earliest of the camp genre. His most famed production was one I find unbearable, Ghostbusters.
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