Archive for the ‘mystery’ Tag

Scream of Fear (1961)   3 comments

poster scream

When a film starts out with a crew of locals dredging a lake, you know you’re in for a treat.

Penny Appleby (yes, really) anyway, Penny Appleby (Susan Strasberg) arrives by chauffeured limousine to the home of her estranged father in Nice, but is disappointed to learn that he’s away on business.  Sure.  He hasn’t seen his daughter in ten years and he chooses this exact time to leave town.  Wheelchair-bound Penny immediately starts seeing her out-of-town dad sitting in chairs, slumped over in the pool house, and generally, dead.

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“Hi, honey.”

Oddly, these sightings prey on her mind.  Soon Penny’s stepmother, Jane (Ann Todd) begins to suggest that Penny might need psychological help.  This idea is approved by the omnipresent Dr. Pierre Gerrard (Christopher Lee with a French accent!).

lee
“Oui!  Oui!”

Penny’s not alone though.  Robert, the chauffeur (Ronald Lewis) is drawn to Penny.  At first, he feels sorry for the lonely girl, but as more suspicious things happen, Robert becomes Penny’s ally.  The two amateur sleuths launch a clandestine investigation into the possible disappearance and probable death of her father.  They also theorize on the reasons (money) that his death might work out well for certain people.

cutie
“I’m hot, therefore good.”

Director, Seth Holt (The Nanny) builds tension and the script by Jimmy Sangster (Horror of Dracula) is spare and intelligent.  Cinematographer, Douglas Slocombe (The Servant), makes good use of darkness and candlelight and also does one of my favorite things…he waits.  He and Holt let the actors do their thing and allow Sangster’s twisty story to unfurl.  My one critique is Susan Strasberg.  Yes, I know her dad is Hyman Roth and taught generations how to act.  I just think he forgot to teach her.  She’s shrill and you never really connect with her and that’s her fault.  She’s the weak link in an otherwise superb thriller.  Hammer Films made a number of thriller/mysteries along with the numerous horror films the studio is famous for.  They’re not as well known as the gothic horrors, but they’re worth checking out.  This is a good one.

acting
“Stand back!  I’m acting!”

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Don’t Blink (2014)   Leave a comment

dontblink

Brian Austin Green, Mena Suvari, Scut Farkus! (Zack Ward), and seven of their friends head up to a remote mountain lodge for a relaxing weekend.  The inn, which should be full of guests, sits lifeless and it seems as if everyone left in a hurry.  The gang find half-eaten breakfasts and a woman’s purse left in the empty dining room.  As the group of friends try to find out what happened to the local population, a funny thing happens.  People go missing.  Then the people who look for them go missing.  Soon ten becomes nine…eight…seven…  You get the picture.  As you might expect, those who are left go a bit nutty.  One girl goes full Mist-Marcia Gay Harden and Scut Farkus, who makes the most sense throughout the early part of the film, totally loses his shit.  That part was fun to watch.

scut
SCUUUUUUUUUT!!!!!

Writer/director Travis Oates spends a lot of time watching the cast argue and it’s more gossipy than ghoulish.  People pose and make statements a lot and no one has a clue.

clue
“Who’s stumped?”

Scut, the only character to offer a proactive plan, gets voted down because these buttheads would rather hang out in the nice hotel than go for help, arm themselves, or DO anything.  We don’t get a lot of backstory on these characters and except for Scut, I didn’t care what happened to them.  Tattooed Brian Austin 90210 becomes the de facto leader based entirely on his strategy of talking softly and not doing much else.  The plot-driven script has characters acting counter to their own personalities just so 90210 can calm them down and take charge, then do nothing.  It’s a real party.

I was waiting for an M. Night Shyamalan twist or a weird Whedony ending.  No such luck.  The end of DON’T BLINK is just as unsatisfying as the beginning and the middle.  Big yawn.

angel
“Don’t look at me.”

 

 

 

 

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