All posts in Horror

The Woman in Black

 

Certificate: 12A

Released: 10 February 2012 (UK)

Director: James Watkins

Producers: Richard Jackson Simon Oakes Brian Oliver

Starring: Daniel Radcliffe, Ciarán Hinds, Janet McTeer, Sophie Stuckey, Liz White

Screenwriters: Jane Goldman (screenplay), Susan Hill (novel)

Running Time: 95 mins

Trailer: YouTube Preview Image

     

Summary

For traditional, old fashioned horror films, they don’t come much better than this. Hammer are back on form, with a tick-box check list you would expect from a good old horror flick – haunted house, a woman ghost, creaking floorboards, spooky noises in the middle of the night – it’s all here. Radcliffe proves he can hold his own as a leading man outside of Harry Potter, and director James Watkins expertly uses shadows and empty spaces to create that necessary sense of dread, and he waits until the last possible moment before allowing his audience the catharsis of a shock. Thankfully Hammer stay well clear of recent Hollywood horror flick cliches, ignore any OTT gore, violence or sex, and instead deliver a film which feels like experiencing that ghost train ride at the funfair all over again.

The Woman in Black is a 2012 supernatural horror-thriller film directed by James Watkins and written by Jane Goldman, and is based on Susan Hill’s novel of the same name. It is produced by Hammer Film Productions. The film stars Daniel Radcliffe, Ciarán Hinds, Janet McTeer, Sophie Stuckey, and Liz White. It was released in the United States and Canada on 3 February 2012 to generally positive reviews, and was released in the United Kingdom on 10 February 2012.[5][6]

 

Plot

The film opens with a shot of three girls having a toy tea party who then simultaneously look at the windows of the room, and then immediately get up and commit suicide by jumping out of three windows, one for each girl, while their mother screams outside. In the Edwardian era, young solicitor Arthur Kipps (Daniel Radcliffe) lives with his four-year-old son, Joseph (Misha Handley) and his son’s nanny (Jessica Raine). Kipps’s wife Stella (Sophie Stuckey) has died after childbirth. Kipps has been having visions of her and is facing financial problems along with stress from the law firm he works at. He is assigned to handle the estate of Alice Drablow, who owned an English manor known as the Eel Marsh House, where she had lived with her husband, son Nathaniel, and sister Jennet Humfrye (Liz White). Although the locals are unwelcoming, Kipps befriends Sam Daily (Ciarán Hinds), a wealthy landowner, and his wife Elizabeth (Janet McTeer).

At Eel Marsh House, located on an island in the marshes, Kipps repeatedly hears footsteps and sees a woman dressed in black. He reports the sighting at the local police station, but, while there, two boys bring their sister Victoria (Alexia Osborne), who has drank lye. She dies in Kipps’s arms. Victoria is not the first child in town to commit suicide, and the townspeople believe the “Woman in Black” comes for their children as revenge for her own child being taken from her, and believe that when ever someone sees her then a child nearby is killed, which could be why children have been dying since Kipps’ arrival at Eel Marsh House.

Kipps and Sam arrive at the house of Jerome, the local solicitor. The house is empty, and they hear a noise from the cellar. Kipps peers through a hole in the cellar door and is startled when the face of a young girl, Lucy Jerome (Aoife Doherty) suddenly appears and screams at him to go away, believing he was responsible for Victoria’s death. After returning to Sam’s house for dinner, Kipps discovers that Sam and Elizabeth’s son, Nicholas (Sidney Johnston), drowned while playing at the beach and that Nicholas communicates through possession; Elizabeth then draws a hanging woman who Kipps realizes is Jennet. Later at the Marsh, Kipps discovers notes claiming that Jennet was mentally unstable and was not allowed to care for Nathaniel, who was actually Jennet’s son, although this fact was hidden by Alice, who raised Nathaniel as her own son. He also finds out that Jennet hung herself due to his death long ago.

The villagers desperately want Kipps to leave, but he refuses, wanting to protect his job. Throughout the night at the Marsh, Kipps has many paranormal experiences with the Woman in Black and all the children that committed suicide, as they all appear outside the house as they were when they died. The next morning, Sam and Kipps return to town to see the local solicitor, but the Jerome’s house is on fire. Kipps rushes inside to rescue Lucy, Jerome’s daughter, who has been locked in the cellar. There, he sees the Woman manipulate the girl into setting herself on fire. Lucy smashes a lantern at her feet, getting engulfed in flames. Kipps visits Mrs. Daily, who reveals in a trance that Joseph is the next victim. Kipps realizes that he must put Nathaniel to rest by giving him a proper burial. Kipps and Sam go to the Marsh, locate Nathaniel’s body by Arthur going into the marsh and diving to his body. They then take his body and lay him out in the nursery in the house. The Woman appears and knocks Kipps to the floor, but they finally lay Nathaniel to rest by burying him with his real mother, Jennet. After Kipps and Sam leave, the camera moves quickly through the hallway of the Marsh House, and the voice of the Woman in Black can be heard saying “I’ll never forgive!… I’ll never forgive!.”

Kipps is reunited with his son, Joseph, at the railway station and plans to leave immediately. While bidding Sam goodbye, Kipps turns to Joseph, walking along the tracks towards a fast approaching train. Sam notices the Woman along the platform as Kipps jumps onto the tracks to save Joseph. As the train passes, Sam looks through the windows to see the unrested souls of all the children whom the Woman has claimed. Still standing on the tracks with Joseph, Kipps looks up to see the now deserted platform. Joseph asks, “Daddy, who is that lady?” to which Kipps replies with a smile, “That’s your Mummy.” Realizing he and his son have died, he kisses his son and takes his wife’s hand, the three of them reunited in death. They ‘go on’ together, leaving the Woman in Black, in her grief, forever more.

 

Cast

Daniel Radcliffe in Paris at the film’s French premiere.

 

  • Daniel Radcliffe as Arthur Kipps, a young solicitor
  • Ciarán Hinds as Sam Daily, a local landowner
  • Janet McTeer as Elizabeth Daily, Daily’s wife
  • Sophie Stuckey as Stella Kipps, Arthur’s wife
  • Misha Handley as Joseph Kipps, Arthur’s son
  • Liz White as Jennet Humfrye, The Woman in Black
  • Daniel Cerqueira as Keckwick, the carriage driver
  • Tim McMullan as Jerome, the local solicitor
  • Aoife Doherty as Lucy Jerome, Jerome’s daughter
  • Roger Allam as Mr Bentley, senior partner of Kipps’ firm
  • Victor McGuire as Gerald Hardy, a villager
  • Alexia Osborne as Victoria Hardy, Hardy’s daughter
  • David Burke as PC Collins, village constable
  • Ashley Foster as Nathaniel Drablow, The Woman in Black’s son
  • Jessica Raine as Joseph’s Nanny
  • Shaun Dooley as Fisher, village innkeeper
  • Mary Stockley as Mrs Fisher
  • Sidney Johnston as Nicholas Daily, Daily’s son

 

Development

The film was announced in 2009,[7] with Jane Goldman as screenwriter[7] and later James Watkins as director.[8]Daniel Radcliffe was announced as the actor playing the part of Arthur Kipps on 19 July 2010.[9] Two months later, it was announced that Harry Potter co-star Ciarán Hinds would join Radcliffe along with Janet McTeer as Mr and Mrs Daily respectively.[10] Before filming, Radcliffe saw a psychologist so he could better understand his character.[11] The part of Joseph Kipps was played by Misha Handley, who is Radcliffe’s real life godson.[12]

 

Filming

The film was planned to be shot in 3D,[7] but that plan was later scrapped.[13] Principal photography officially started on 26 September 2010.[14] The next day, Radcliffe was pictured in costume just outside Peterborough, England.[15] In early October the crew was filming in Layer Marney Tower.[16] Filming officially ended on 4 December 2010.[17]

 

Post-production

At the Kapow! Comic Con in London during April 2011, director James Watkins confirmed filming had been completed in December 2010 and post production would go on until June 2011.[18] For its British release, several changes were made in order to qualify for a 12A certificate: Momentum Theatrical, the distributor, arranged to have six seconds cut and for changes to other shots, with some scenes darkened and the sound level reduced on some others.[19]

 

Marketing

On 10 April 2011, during the Kapow! Comic Con in London, the first official teaser trailer was unveiled.[21] Another trailer of the film was attached to some showings of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 2 in July 2011, and a brand new worldwide teaser, depicting more footage from the movie, was released on 17 August 2011.[22] The official UK teaser poster was released on 24 August 2011.[23] The full UK trailer was released on 14 October 2011.[24] CBS Films released a one minute teaser at Spike TV’s Scream Awards on 18 October 2011, and a day later released a teaser poster.[25] On 11 January 2012, Momentum Pictures released the official theatrical poster,[26] while on 12 January, MTV released a minute clip of the film.[27]

Shortly before the release of the Woman in Black, the book was released in a new cover of actor Daniel Radcliffe and paperback covers, alongside the film for marketing.

Critical reception

Reviews for the film have been generally favourable. As of 3 March 2012, the film has a 65% approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes based on 158 reviews, with an average rating of 6/10, with a consensus that says: “Traditional to a fault, The Woman in Black foregoes gore for chills — although it may not provide enough of them for viewers attuned to modern, high-stakes horror.”[28] The film has received a rating of 62/100 on Metacritic, indicating “generally favorable reviews”.[29]

Box office

During opening weekend, The Woman in Black earned $20 million, the biggest US opening for a Hammer film in all of Hammer history, [30] putting it at second place in the box office, behind Chronicle, which earned about $1 million more.[31] Next to a production budget of $13 million and a promotional budget of $15 million, The Woman In Black has been considered an unexpected financial success, as the studio was only expecting to receive around $11 million during opening weekend.[32] As of 26 March 2012, the film has made $106,049,209 worldwide.[4]

Home media

The film will be released on DVD and Blu-ray on 18 June 2012 in the United Kingdom,[33] and in the United States on 22 May 2012.[34]

References

  1. ^ “The Woman in Black (12A)”. British Board of Film Classification. http://www.bbfc.co.uk/CFF277407/. Retrieved 20 January 2012.
  2. ^ Felperin, Leslie (25 January 2012). “Film Front Reviews”. Variety. http://www.variety.com/review/VE1117946920. Retrieved 7 February 2012.
  3. ^ Dawtrey, Adam (2 March 2012). “Hammer nails coin from next gen”. Variety. http://www.variety.com/article/VR1118051846?refCatId=13. Retrieved 24 March 2012.
  4. ^ a b “The Woman in Black”. Box Office Mojo. http://www.boxofficemojo.com/movies/?id=womaninblack.htm. Retrieved 6 February 2012.
  5. ^ “Release Date Moves: Searchlight’s ‘The Descendants’, CBS Films’ ‘The Woman In Black’”. Deadline.com (Mail.com Media). 28 July 2011. http://www.deadline.com/2011/07/release-date-moves-searchlights-the-descendants-cbs-films-the-woman-in-black/. Retrieved 28 July 2011.
  6. ^ “The Woman in Black Teaser Trailer”. Good Film Guide. 10 April 2011. http://goodfilmguide.co.uk/the-woman-in-black-teaser-trailer/. Retrieved 10 April 2011.
  7. ^ a b c “3D Version of the Woman in Black Coming from Hammer”. DreadCentral.com. 4 November 2009. http://www.dreadcentral.com/news/34390/3d-version-the-woman-black-coming-hammer. Retrieved 27 September 2010.
  8. ^ “Hammer Options Rights to Famous Horror Novel “The Woman in Black”". HammerFilms.com. 1 February 2010. http://www.hammerfilms.com/news/article/newsid/211/hammer-options-rights-to-famous-horror-novel–the-woman-in-black. Retrieved 2 October 2010.
  9. ^ “Daniel Radcliffe to star in The Woman in Black”. BBC News. 19 July 2010. http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/entertainment-arts-10684914. Retrieved 27 September.
  10. ^ Martyn Conterio (8 September 2010). “Two More Actors Set To Join ‘The Woman in Black’”. FilmShaft.com. http://www.filmshaft.com/two-more-actors-set-to-join-the-woman-in-black/. Retrieved 27 September 2010.
  11. ^ Kristy Kelly (20 September 2010). “Daniel Radcliffe ‘prepares for Black role’”. Daily Spy. http://www.digitalspy.com/movies/news/a277882/daniel-radcliffe-prepares-for-black-role.html. Retrieved 27 September 2010.
  12. ^ Chris Evan’s Breakfast Show. 10 February 2012.
  13. ^ Russ Fischer (27 September 2010). “First Look: Daniel Radcliffe in ‘Woman in Black’”. /Film. http://www.slashfilm.com/2010/09/27/first-look-daniel-radcliffe-in-woman-in-black/. Retrieved 27 September 2010.
  14. ^ “Hammer’s official Twitter account”. Twitter. 7 September 2010. http://twitter.com/hammerfilms/status/23256365458. Retrieved 27 September 2010. “via @RoomofRadcliffe @hammerfilms Have heard that The Woman in Black starts filming on Sept.26! Can’t wait to see this!!”
  15. ^ “Daniel Radcliffe pictured in The Woman in Black”. Telegraph. 27 September 2010. http://www.telegraph.co.uk/culture/film/film-news/8027809/Daniel-Radcliffe-pictured-in-The-Woman-in-Black.html. Retrieved 27 September 2010.
  16. ^ “Layer Marney News: The Woman in Black”. LayerMarneyTower.co.uk.. http://www.layermarneytower.co.uk/lmtnews.html. Retrieved 22 October 2010.
  17. ^ “Hammer’s official Twitter account”. Twitter. 4 December 2010. http://twitter.com/hammerfilms/status/10986678705455104. Retrieved 4 April 2011. “On this day in 2010, production wraps on THE WOMAN IN BLACK.”
  18. ^ “Kapow! Adrian reports in on Hammer’s The Woman In Black and more genre goodies!”. AintItCool.com. 10 April 2011. http://www.aintitcool.com/node/49220. Retrieved 2011-10-10.
  19. ^ “The Woman in Black”. British Board of Film Classification. http://www.bbfc.co.uk/CFF277407/. Retrieved 2012-02-11. “In addition to the 6 seconds of visual cuts, substitutions were also made by darkening some shots and by reducing the sound levels on others.”
  20. ^ http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1596365/fullcredits#cast
  21. ^ “The Woman In Black Teaser Online | Movie News | Empire”. Empireonline.com. http://www.empireonline.com/news/story.asp?NID=30675. Retrieved 2011-10-10.
  22. ^ Published Wednesday, Aug 17 2011, 08:06 BST (2011-08-17). “Daniel Radcliffe gets haunted in ‘The Woman In Black’ trailer – Movies News”. Digital Spy. http://www.digitalspy.co.uk/movies/news/a335502/daniel-radcliffe-gets-haunted-in-the-woman-in-black-trailer.html. Retrieved 2011-10-10.
  23. ^ “Woman In Black UK Teaser Poster Is Here | Movie News | Empire”. Empireonline.com. http://www.empireonline.com/news/story.asp?NID=31865. Retrieved 2011-10-10.
  24. ^ “Full Trailer For ‘The Woman In Black’ Hits The Web”. Huffington Post. 14 October 2011. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/10/14/woman-in-black-trailer_n_1011467.html. Retrieved 15 October 2011.
  25. ^ O’Connell, Sean (19 October 2011). “Daniel Radcliffe in new “Woman In Black” clip, motion poster”. Hollywood News. http://www.hollywoodnews.com/2011/10/19/daniel-radcliffe-in-new-woman-in-black-clip-motion-poster/. Retrieved 19 October 2011.
  26. ^ O’Hara, Helen (11 January 2012). “New Woman In Black Poster Debuts”. Empire. http://www.empireonline.com/news/story.asp?NID=32848. Retrieved 12 January 2012.
  27. ^ “Daniel Radcliffe Spooks In ‘Woman In Black’ Clip”. Huffington Post. 12 January 2012. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/01/12/daniel-radcliffe-woman-in-black_n_1202323.html. Retrieved 12 January 2012.
  28. ^ http://www.rottentomatoes.com/m/the_woman_in_black_2011/
  29. ^ http://www.metacritic.com/movie/the-woman-in-black
  30. ^ http://www.themoviebit.com/2012/02/woman-in-black-has-highest-ever-opening.html
  31. ^ http://insidemovies.ew.com/2012/02/05/box-office-report-chronicle-woman-in-black-big-miracle/
  32. ^ http://boxofficemojo.com/news/?id=3361&p=.htm
  33. ^ http://www.amazon.co.uk/The-Woman-Black-Daniel-Radcliffe/dp/B00651224A/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1332538650&sr=8-2&tag=fil0f-21
  34. ^ http://www.amazon.com/Woman-Black-Blu-ray-Daniel-Radcliffe/dp/B005LAIGP0/ref=sr_1_2?s=movies-tv&ie=UTF8&qid=1332634666&sr=1-2&tag=wp-amazon-associate-20

 

Further Reading

Grunert, Andrea.”The Woman in Black“. Enzyklopädie des Phantastischen Films. Issue 97, Meitingen: Corian Verlag. March 2012. p. 1-19. ISBN 978-3-89048-497-6

 

External links

 

Reviews

  6.8

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1596365/

 

  64%

http://www.rottentomatoes.com/m/the_woman_in_black_2011/

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

An American Werewolf In London

 

 

 

 

Certificate: 18

Released: 1981

Director: John Landis

Producer: George Folsey Jr., Jon Peters, Peter Guber

Starring: David Naughton, Griffin Dunne, Jenny Agutter

Screenwriters: John Landis

Running Time: 97 min

Trailer: YouTube Preview Image

Summary

From its legendary opening at the infamous `Slaughtered Lamb’ local pub, to its violent climax in Piccadilly Circus, Landis manages to find the perfect blend of black comedy and truly frightening scenes that still shock even today. With creepy, unfriendly residents of the local boozer, recurring hospital nightmares that really do scare, bizarre conversations with dead victims, and a breathtaking special effects transformation highlight that sadly today would be rendered on CGI, this is a brilliant horror classic.

An American Werewolf in London is a 1981 British-American horror comedy film, written and directed by John Landis. It stars David Naughton, Griffin Dunne, and Jenny Agutter.

The film starts with two young American men, David (David Naughton) and Jack (Griffin Dunne) on a backpacking holiday in England. Following an awkwardly tense visit to a village pub, the two men venture deep into the moors at night. They are attacked by a werewolf, which results in Jack’s death and David being taken to a London hospital. Through apparitions of his dead friend and disturbing dream sequences, David becomes informed that he is a werewolf and will transform at the next full moon.

Shooting took place mostly in London but also in Surrey and Wales. It was released in the United States on August 21, 1981 and grossed $30.56 million at the box office. Critics generated mostly favourable reviews for the film. The movie won the 1981 Saturn Award for Best Horror Film and an Academy Award for Outstanding Achievement in Makeup. The film was one of three high-profile wolf-themed horror films released in 1981, alongside The Howling and Wolfen. Over the years, the film has accumulated a cult following and has been referred to as a cult classic.[1] Empire magazine also named An American Werewolf in London as the 107th greatest movie of all time in September 2008.

The film was followed by a 1997 sequel, An American Werewolf in Paris, which featured a completely different cast and none of the original crew, and is distributed by Disney’s Hollywood Pictures.

 

Plot

Two American college students, David Kessler (David Naughton) and Jack Goodman (Griffin Dunne), are backpacking across the Yorkshire moors. As darkness falls, and they decide to stop for the night at a pub called “The Slaughtered Lamb”. Jack notices a five-pointed star on the wall. When he asks about it, the pub becomes very quiet. The pub-goers start acting very strangely. The pair decide to leave, but not before the others offer them pieces of advice such as “Beware the moon, lads” and “Keep to the road.” Whilst conversing with each other and wondering what they meant, they wander off the road, onto the moors.

Back at the pub, the owner gets very distressed and suggests that they go after the pair. As she says this, a sinister howling is heard. The rest of the pub-goers, having barricaded the door, decline. Back out on the moors, Jack and David have also heard the howls, and they seem to be steadily getting closer. They start back to the Slaughtered Lamb when they realize they are disoriented and lost on the moors. A full moon comes out from behind the clouds, and they remember the advice they were given earlier. The noises get steadily closer until they are stopped by a supernaturally large animal. The animal attacks both of them, and kills Jack. The animal is then shot and killed by the pub-goers, who have now emerged. David survives the mauling and is taken to a hospital in London. When he wakes up three weeks later, he does not remember what happened and is told of his friend’s death. David is questioned by an arrogant inspector, and more understanding sergeant and learns that he and Jack were supposedly attacked by an escaped lunatic. David insists that they were actually attacked by a large wolf. But the inspector had already been told there were witnesses and an autopsy report of the maniac, so they deduce that David is suffering from shock. David has several nightmares at night (one of him running through the woods, decapitating and eating a deer, another of him in a hospital bed with a monstrous fanged face, and finally him at home where his family is attacked by Nazis with monstrous faces).

Things get stranger when Jack, now a reanimated corpse, comes to visit David, who explains that they had been attacked by a werewolf, and stating that David himself is, in fact, now a werewolf. Jack urges David to kill himself before the next full moon, not only because Jack is cursed to exist in a state of living death for as long as the bloodline of the werewolf that attacked them survives, but also to prevent David from inflicting the same fate on his eventual victims.

Trying to see if David is indeed telling the truth, his doctor takes a trip to the Slaughtered Lamb. However when asked about the incident, the pub-goers deny any knowledge of David, Jack or the wolf. But one distraught pub-goer speaks to the doctor outside the pub and says that David should not have been taken away, and that he and everyone else will be in danger when he changes. After more investigation, the doctor finds out that the police report was “misplaced”, and that David’s wounds were cleaned and dressed before he was even looked at. The doctor is convinced that the whole town was lying, and that David was indeed attacked by an animal, though he’s not completely convinced it was a werewolf.

Upon his release from the hospital, David moves in with Alex Price (Jenny Agutter), the pretty young nurse who grew infatuated with him in the hospital. He stays in Alex’s London apartment, where they later make love for the first time. Jack suddenly appears to David again and tells him that he will turn into a werewolf the next day. Jack advises David to take his own life; otherwise he is doomed to kill innocent people who will then become the living dead. When the full moon rises, as Jack had warned, he begins to feel excruciating pain before stripping nude and turning into a werewolf. In his werewolf form, David walks on all fours, is covered in shaggy gray fur, is larger than a regular wolf, and has a savage demonic face with horrifying fanged jaws. He prowls the streets and the London Underground and slaughters six innocent Londoners. When he wakes in the morning, he is naked on the floor of the wolf cage at London Zoo with no memory of his nocturnal lupine carnivorous adventures, but unharmed by the resident wolves.

Later that day, David realizes that Jack was right about everything and that he is responsible for the murders of the night before. David encounters Jack (in an advanced stage of decay) in a cinema in Piccadilly Circus, this time accompanied by David’s victims from the previous night. They all insist that he must commit suicide before turning into a werewolf again. While talking with them, night falls and, consequently, David turns into a werewolf again and goes on another killing spree.

Following a horrific melee, he is cornered in an alley by the police. Alex arrives to calm him down by telling him that she loves him. Though he is apparently temporarily softened, he is shot and killed when he lunges forward, returning to human form in front of a grieving Alex as he dies.

 

Cast

David Naughton as David Kessler

Griffin Dunne as Jack Goodman

Jenny Agutter as Nurse Alex Price

John Woodvine as Dr. J.S. Hirsch

Lila Kaye as Barmaid

Frank Oz as Mr. Collins

John Landis as Man being smashed in window

David Schofield as Dart Player

The producers wanted Dan Aykroyd in the role of David and John Belushi as Jack, but John Landis refused.

The credits congratulate Prince Charles and Diana Spencer for their wedding and contain the disclaimer “Any resemblance to any persons living, dead or undead is coincidental.” A similar slogan appears during the ending credits of Michael Jackson’s Thriller, a horror-based short film directed by Landis.

At the end of the credits is a promo card for Universal Studios urging viewers to “Ask for Babs.” This is a reference to Landis’ 1978 film National Lampoon’s Animal House where the credits list the future occupations of the students, including Babs, who became a tour guide at Universal Studios. This same card appears in Landis’ other films. Until the release of Animal House on VHS, asking for Babs at Universal Studios actually got people in for free.

 

History

A still from a nightmare sequence in the film.

John Landis came up with the story while he worked in Yugoslavia as a production assistant on the film Kelly’s Heroes (1970). He and a Yugoslavian member of the crew were driving in the back of a car on location when they came across a group of gypsies. The gypsies appeared to be performing rituals on a man being buried so that he would not “rise from the grave.” This made Landis realize that he would never be able to confront the undead and gave him the idea for a film in which a man would go through the same thing.[2]

John Landis wrote the first draft of An American Werewolf in London in 1969 and shelved it for over a decade. Two years later, Landis wrote, directed and starred in his debut film, Schlock, which developed a cult following. Landis developed box-office status in Hollywood through the successful comedy films The Kentucky Fried MovieNational Lampoon’s Animal House and The Blues Brothers before securing $10 million financing for his werewolf film. Financiers believed that Landis’ script was too frightening to be a comedy and too funny to be a horror film.[3]

Michael Jackson cited this film as his reason for working with Landis on his subsequent music videos, including Thriller and Black or White.

 

Makeup effects

According to Entertainment Weekly, the real star of this film is the Oscar-winning transformation effects by Rick Baker, which changed the face of horror makeup in the 1980s.[4]

The various prosthetics and fake, robotic body parts used during the film’s painful, extended werewolf transformation scenes and on Griffin Dunne when his character returns as a bloody, mangled ghost impressed the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences so much that they decided to create a new awards category at the Oscars specifically for the film — Outstanding Achievement in Makeup. Since the 1981 Academy Awards, this has been a regular category each year.

During the body casting sessions, the crew danced around David Naughton singing, “I’m a werewolf, you’re a werewolf … wouldn’t you like to be a werewolf, too?” in reference to his days as a pitchman for Dr Pepper.

 

Cameos and bit parts

In the Piccadilly Circus sequence, the man hit by a car and thrown through a store window is Landis himself.

As in most of the director’s movies, Frank Oz makes an appearance: first as Mr. Collins from the American embassy in the hospital scene, and later as Miss Piggy in a dream sequence, when David’s younger siblings watch a scene from The Muppet Show.

Actors in bit parts who were already—or would become—more well-known include the two chess players David and Jack meet in the pub, played by the familiar character actor Brian Glover and then-rising comedian and actor Rik Mayall. One of the policemen helping to chase and kill the werewolf is John Altman, who would later achieve fame as “Nasty” Nick Cotton in EastEnders. Alan Ford—later to appear in Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels and Snatch—plays a taxi driver. The policeman in the cinema is played by John Salthouse and the policeman in Piccadilly Circus is played by Peter Ellis. Both Salthouse and Ellis appeared in police drama The Bill. David Schofield, known as Mercer from The Pirates of the Caribbean film series, plays the dart player at the Slaughtered Lamb and assists Dr. Hirsch in his investigation of David’s attack.

 

Locations

The opening shots of the moors are near Hay Bluff, a mountain that straddles the Welsh border in Brecon Beacons National Park. The scenes were shot on the Welsh side of Hay Bluff, about four miles to the south of the town of Hay-on-Wye in the county of Powys. The scene where David and Jack get dropped off by the sheep farmer is by the stone circle, the same location where, later in the film, Dr. Hirsch stops and looks at the sign for East Proctor. The same road provides the scenery for the next two shots, where David and Jack talk about Debbie Klein.

East Proctor is a small hamlet ten miles to the west of Hay Bluff called Crickadarn. It is featured from the shot where David and Jack walk down a hill towards East Proctor. The exterior of the “Slaughtered Lamb” was a private house in Crickadarn dressed to look like a pub and the Angel of Death statue in the village was a prop created by the movie makers. The church next door is also still frequented, however the upper levels have now fallen into disrepair.

The interior of the “Slaughtered Lamb” was filmed in a pub called The Black Swan, Ockham, Surrey near Effingham. The bar was used but a false wall was built to make the pub look smaller. The Black Swan was re-furbished and extended to become a gastro pub in 2006 making it unrecognisable from the interior used for the film.

Nurse Alex’s flat is located on Coleherne Road, just off Redcliffe Square (SW10), Kensington near to Earl’s Court. In 1966, mere yards from the site of Alex’s flat, Guinness heir Tara Browne died after crashing his Lotus Elan on the junction of Redcliffe Square and Redcliffe Gardens. The accident is purportedly the subject of the first verse of “A Day In The Life” by The Beatles.

The attack at the tube station was set in — and filmed at — Tottenham Court Road tube station although the chase through the tunnels of the station was actually filmed at Charing Cross tube station.

The final sequence in the alleyway was filmed at Clink Street, London. The location is now almost unrecognisable, the area having been redeveloped since.

The scenes where David wakes up naked in the zoo were shot at London Zoo, Regent’s Park.

 

Soundtrack

The film’s ironically upbeat soundtrack consists of songs which refer in some way to the moon. Bobby Vinton’s slow and soothing version of “Blue Moon” plays during the opening credits,Van Morrison’s ”Moondance” as David and Alex make love for the first time, Creedence Clearwater Revival’s ”Bad Moon Rising” as David is nearing the moment of changing to the werewolf, a soft, bittersweet ballad version of “Blue Moon” by Sam Cooke during the agonizing wolf transformation and The Marcels’ doo-wop version of “Blue Moon” over the end credits.[5]Landis failed to get permission to use Cat Stevens’ ”Moonshadow” and Bob Dylan’s “Moonshiner”, both artists feeling the film to be inappropriate. It was stated on the DVD commentary by David Naughton and Griffin Dunne that they were not sure why Landis could not get the rights to Warren Zevon’s “Werewolves of London” – a song that they felt would have been more appropriate for the film.

 

Reception

The budget of An American Werewolf in London was reportedly $10 million. The worldwide box office came to $30,565,292, making it a box office success.[6]

The film was also met with critical acclaim, earning an 88% Fresh rating on rottentomatoes.com.[7] Kim Newman of Empire magazine praised the film, saying “Carnivorous lunar activities rarely come any more entertaining than this”.[8] Tom Huddlestone from Time Out also gave the film a positive review, saying the film was “Not just gory but actually frightening, not just funny but clever”.[7] James Rolfe praised John Landis and called American Werewolf the greatest werewolf movie next to The Wolf Man.[9] Roger Ebert’s review was less favourable. He stated that “An American Werewolf in London seems curiously unfinished, as if director John Landis spent all his energy on spectacular set pieces and then didn’t want to bother with things like transitions, character development, or an ending.”[10]

The American Film Institute nominated it for ranking on their 100 Laughs list.[11]

 

Radio adaptation

A radio adaptation of the film was broadcast on BBC Radio 1 in 1997, written and directed by Dirk Maggs and with Jenny Agutter, Brian Glover, and John Woodvine reprising the roles of Alex Price, the chess player (now named George Hackett, and with a more significant role as East Proctor’s special constable) and Dr. Hirsch. The roles of David and Jack were played by Eric Meyers and William Dufris. Maggs’ script added a backstory that some people in East Proctor are settlers from Eastern Europe and brought lycanthropy with them. The werewolf who bites David is revealed to be related to Hackett, and has escaped from an asylum where he is held under the name “Larry Talbot”, the name of the title character in The Wolf Man.

 

Remake

In June 2009, it was announced that Dimension Films was working with producers Sean and Bryan Furst on a remake of the film. This has since been delayed due to other film commitments[12]

 

Home media

The movie was first released on DVD in January 1998 by LIVE Entertainment according to the second LIVE DVD Advertisement. Universal Pictures re-released the standard-definition DVD version of the film as a 20th anniversary “Collector’s Edition” on September 18, 2001. The high-definition version of the film was first released on HD DVD by Universal Pictures on November 28, 2006. A high-definition Blu-ray Disc and 2-disc standard-definition Region 1 DVD release of the film titled “An American Werewolf in London – Full Moon Edition” was released by Universal Home Entertainment on September 15, 2009.[13] The Region 2 DVDs and Blu-ray were released on September 28 and are known as “An American Werewolf in London – Special Edition”[14] Unfortunately the region 2 DVD release suffered from a missing scene that is fully intact on the Region 1 release and all previous region 1 and 2 releases – the scene takes place near the end of the film where the character of David phones his parents from a UK public telephone box. All but the end of this scene had been cut from the Region 2 release for reasons unknown. As of October 2009 Universal said that they were scrapping all existing faulty stock and issuing replacement DVDs. All Blu-ray releases, however, are intact.[15] The DVD version will be re-released again by Lionsgate along with Wishmaster/Wishmaster 2 and Strangeland as part of 4-Pack Horror Favourites.

 

References

  1. Berardinelli, James (2000). An American Werewolf in London review”Reelviews. Retrieved 2009-07-26.
  2. An Interview with John Landis featurette on the American Werewolf in London DVD
  3. Peary, Danny (1988). Cult Movies 3. New York: Simon & Schuster Inc.. pp. 15–19. ISBN 0-671-64810-1.
  4. The Entertainment Weekly Guide to the Greatest Movies Ever Made. New York: Warner Books. 1996. p. 123.
  5. Jones, Steven; Forrest J. Ackerman (2000). The Essential Monster Movie Guide. Billboard Book. p. 34. ISBN 9780823079360.
  6. “An American Werewolf in London (1981)”. Box Office Mojo. Retrieved 2010-08-07.
  7. a b “An American Werewolf in London Movie Reviews, Pictures – Rotten Tomatoes”. Uk.rottentomatoes.com. Retrieved 2010-08-07.
  8. “Review of An American Werewolf in London”. Empireonline.com. Retrieved 2010-08-07.
  9. Guzman, David (25 February 2011). “John Landis Talks Oscars, Michael Jackson and Martin Lawrence ‘Copies,’ Part 1″AllMediaNY. retrieved 10 March 2011. “In his review of ‘An American Werewolf in London’ on www.cinemassacre.com, James Rolfe opined that you’d made the best werewolf movie next to ‘The Wolf Man.’”
  10. “An American Werewolf in London :: rogerebert.com :: Reviews”. Rogerebert.suntimes.com. Retrieved 2010-08-07.
  11. AFI’s 100 Years…100 Laughs Ballot
  12. By (June 29, 2009). “‘Werewolf’ remake in development — Entertainment News, Film News, Media”Variety. Retrieved 2009-06-30.
  13. An American Werewolf in London coming to Blu-rayHD Report. July 13, 2009. Retrieved 2009-07-26.
  14. “An American Werewolf In London – Special Edition DVD 1981: Amazon.co.uk: David Naughton, Don McKillop, Frank Oz, Linzi Drew, Jenny Agutter, Griffin Dunne, John Woodvine, Brian Glover, Rik Mayall, David Schofield, Lila Kaye, Paul Kernber, John Landis: DVD”. Amazon.co.uk. Retrieved 2010-08-07.
  15. “IMDb :: Boards :: An American Werewolf in London (1981) :: Did anyone notice the missing scene?”. Uk.imdb.com. Retrieved 2010-08-07.

 

External links

 

Reviews

  7.5

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0082010/

 

 

  88%

http://www.rottentomatoes.com/m/american_werewolf_in_london/

 

The Final Conflict

 

 

 

Certificate: 18

Released: 1981

Director: Graham Baker

Producer: Harvey Bernhard, Richard Donner

Starring: Sam Neill, Rossano Brazzi and Don Gordon

Screenwriters: David Seltzer (characters), Andrew Birkin

Running Time: 108 min

Trailer:

YouTube Preview Image

Summary

Bu the third instalment the series was becoming a little tired, yet a predictably excellent performance from Sam Neill just about salvages the film from being a poor sequel to a fairly entertaining final instalment (before the awful fourth sequel was made).

Omen III: The Final Conflict (sometimes known as simply The Final Conflict) is a 1981 British/American horror film directed by Graham Baker and the third installment in The Omen series. Starring Sam Neill, Lisa Harrow and Rossano Brazzi, the film tells the progression of the now adult Damien Thorn to position of earthly power, set against the countdown to the Second Coming and attempts of a group of priests to kill the Antichrist. The film was released in theatres on March 20, 1981.

 

Plot

Damien Thorn (Sam Neill), 32 years old and head of an international conglomerate, is appointed Ambassador to Great Britain, the same position his adoptive father held. Unlike the previous Omen films, the adult Damien is aware of his unholy lineage and destiny.

An alignment of the stars in the Cassiopeia constellation causes the generation of a ‘superstar’, described as a second Star of Bethlehem. Thorn realizes it is a sign of the Second Coming of Christ and orders all boys in England born on the morning of March 24, 1982 (when the Cassiopeia alignment occurred) to be killed in order to prevent the Christ-child’s return to power. One of Thorn’s disciples, Dean, attempts to hide that his own son was born on that date. He fails at hiding his child from Damien, and is killed by his own hypnotised wife.

Thorn has also become romantically involved with journalist Kate Reynolds (Lisa Harrow), a relationship which puts his his plans for political dominion on hold. But Damien is not deterred from his plans and focuses his attention on her young son Peter (Barnaby Holm), whom Thorn takes as a disciple, manipulating the boy’s desire for a father figure.

Meanwhile, Father DeCarlo (Rossano Brazzi) and six priests hunt for Thorn, hoping to kill him before he can find and destroy the christ-child. They are armed with the seven daggers of Megiddo -the only ancient holy weapons that can harm the Antichrist. However,Damien eliminates the priests in separate confrontations until only DeCarlo remains.

Finally, DeCarlo tells Reynolds that the Christ-child is out of his reach, in spite of Thorn’s efforts. In hopes of getting her son back, she agrees to take Thorn to the Christ-child in exchange for Peter. This is part of DeCarlo’s plan to lure him into a trap. He hopes to ambush Damien and catch him off guard, since his attention will be directed towards confronting Christ.

The plan backfires when Damien manages to spot DeCarlo first and uses Reynolds’ son – now slavishly devoted to Damien – as a human shield against the dagger. As Peter lies dying, Damien strangles the stunned Father DeCarlo.

In a desperate bid to salvage his waning power, Damien calls out for Christ to appear before him. As he does, Kate sneaks up behind Damien with one of the daggers and stabs him in the back, releasing a wail of demonic agony. Christ appears before a dying Damien who then mockingly tells Christ ‘Nazarene…you have won…nothing’.

After Damien dies, his body is seen lying on the ground with Kate standing over it. In the foreground, a fully grown Christ carries Peter’s body and hands him to Kate. The film ends with scripture of Revelation chapter 21, verse 4 indicating that when Christ returns to earth, peace will reign for all who faithfully awaited the Lord’s return.

 

Cast

Sam Neill as Damien Thorn

Lisa Harrow as Kate Reynolds

Rossano Brazzi as Father DeCarlo

Don Gordon as Harvey Dean

Barnaby Holm as Peter Reynolds

Leueen Willoughby as Barbara Dean

Marc Boyle as Brother Benito

Milos Kirek as Brother Martin

Tommy Duggan as Brother Mattius

Louis Mahoney as Brother Paulo

Richard Oldfield as Brother Simeon

Tony Vogel as Brother Antonio

Mason Adams as U.S. President

Robert Arden as U.S. Ambassador to Great Britain

Hazel Court (uncredited) as Champagne woman at hunt

Ruby Wax (uncredited) as U.S. Ambassador’s secretary

 

Casting

Academy Award-winners Jack Nicholson, Marlon Brando, and Gene Hackman were all considered for the role of Damien Thorn. It was decided that a younger unknown actor would fit the role best, hence the choice of Sam Neill, at that point early in his career. Neill was suggested for the role by veteran actor James Mason, a close friend of producer Harvey Bernhard, who also paid for him to be flown to England for a screen test. Neill later reimbursed Mason for the ticket and, according to director Graham Baker, based his earlier characterisations on Mason’s acting.

Rossano Brazzi got his role as Father DeCarlo due to his statement of “He is a priest with balls!” Graham Baker mentioned this in the commentary, along with his whistling interpretation of Rossano’s role in South Pacific. Producer Harvey Bernhard plays the Ambassador’s press secretary when the Ambassador calls him and says, “I want a press conference, my office…”

Executive producer Richard Donner, who had directed the first instalment, was set to direct this film but was prevented by his legal troubles with Alexander and Ilya Salkind, after being fired from Superman II.

 

Locales and filming

The evening party scene was filmed in Brocket Hall, just outside of London, which also substituted as Damien’s residence. Kate, Damien, and Peter walk from Hyde Park to Speakers Corner. This scene was shot in the summer in the rain and dampness of London. The Moors sequence was shot in Cornwall including Roche Rock with added visuals for the lightning. The Disciples Of The Watch sequence was shot at around 4–5 am in one night in the Yorkshire Moors. The finale was shot at Fountains Abbey in Yorkshire. “Shooting here was very cold and very eerie,” according to Graham Baker’s commentary on the DVD. University of London Observatory in Mill Hill, London (identified as “Hendon” in Baker’s commentary) substituted for the Fernbank Observatory for The Second Coming sequence.

The crew did not go back to Subiaco to film the exterior location of the monastery as in the first film as it only appears in two scenes in this film. They just used footage from the first film. Stock footage from The Omen were also used when the Ambassador, who kills himself at the beginning of the film, walks to the United States Embassy. The footage of the White Housefeatured in the film was taken from Superman II, subtracting the visual effects.

Lisa Harrow said one of the most difficult sequences to shoot for the film was the death of the first priest in the televisual studio where her character Kate Reynolds interviews Damien. It took over two weeks to get right. It is considered one of the nastiest mainstream movie deaths, involving a priest burning to death whilst trapped in melting plastic sheets. The scene where Barbara saw a vision of her baby burned/dead was shot on slate 666 and the camera jammed according to director Graham Baker. Stuntman Vic Armstrong performed the backwards one-hundred-foot fall from the bridge. In Guinness World Records 2005, he described it as the most frightening stunt of his career. Most of his falls were less than seventy feet.

 

Chronology

Like Damien: Omen II, in order for the story to be enacted to its “present day” setting, the series timeline required substantial reckoning once more, moving events from the first two movies back further in time. This allowed Thorn, a child in 1976 and a teen in 1978, to be an adult by 1981. The following sequel, Omen IV: The Awakening would follow the third movie’s timeline.

 

Alternative titles

When first released in 1981, the film’s original official title was simply The Final Conflict. Later, the title was adjusted to Omen III: The Final Conflict in order to accentuate its link to the other two films in the cycle.

In Germany and Hungary, the film was released as Barbara’s Baby, a play on the title Rosemary’s Baby. This title also appeared on some posters in many countries before the eventual title was announced.

 

Sequel

In 1991, a sequel, Omen IV: The Awakening, was produced for television in a failed attempt by 20th Century Fox to revive the films as a horror franchise in the style of HalloweenFriday the 13th, and A Nightmare on Elm Street.

 

References

  1. http://www.boxofficemojo.com/movies/?id=omen3.htm

 

External links

 

Reviews

  5.3

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0082377/

 

   28%

http://www.rottentomatoes.com/m/final_conflict_omen_iii/

 

 

Damien: Omen II


 

 

  

Certificate: 18

Released: 1978

Director: Don Taylor

Producer: Harvey Bernhard

Starring: William Holden, Lee Grant, Jonathan Scott-Taylor

Screenwriters: Harvey Bernhard (story), David Seltzer(characters), Stanley Mann (screenplay) and Mike Hodges (screenplay) (as Michael Hodges)
Running Time: 107 min

Trailer:

YouTube Preview Image

 

Summary

Ok, there’s nothing really British about this Omen flick, but I cannot really have The Omen and Omen III without sticking this one it too, can I. In this second instalment in the trilogy, the film still has its creepy moments, manages to keep its shock value with a particularly gruesome death spectacle (although doesn’t beat the decapitation of the first Omen) and is a worthy sequel, although still not a patch on its predecessor.

Damien: Omen II, is a 1978 American horror film directed by Don Taylor, starring William Holden, Lee Grant, and Jonathan Scott-Taylor. The film was the second installment in The Omen series, set seven years after the first film, and was followed by a third installment, Omen III: The Final Conflict, in 1981.

This was Lew Ayres’ final film role and the film debut of Meshach Taylor. The official tagline of the film is “The First Time Was Only a Warning.” Leo McKern reprises his role as Carl Bugenhagen from the original film; he is the only cast member of the series to appear in more than one installment.

 

Plot

A week after the burial of Robert and Katherine Thorn, archaeologist Carl Bugenhagen (Leo McKern) asks his friend Michael Morgan (Ian Hendry) to deliver a box to the guardian of Thorn’s young son, Damien. He reveals that Damien is the Antichrist and that the box contains a warning and the means to kill Damien. As Morgan is unconvinced, Bugenhagen takes him to the ruin of Yigael’s wall, showing him an ancient depiction of the Antichrist with Damien’s face. Morgan is convinced, but the two are buried alive as a tunnel collapses.

Seven years later, 12-year old Damien (Jonathan Scott-Taylor) is living with his uncle, industrialist Richard Thorn (William Holden) and his wife, Ann (Lee Grant). He gets along well with his cousin Mark (Lucas Donat), Richard’s son, with whom he is enrolled in a military academy. However, he is despised by Aunt Marion (Sylvia Sidney), who favors Mark and thinks Damien a bad influence, even threatening to cut Richard out of her will if he does not separate the two boys. The same night, the appearance of a crow wakes her up and causes a fatal heart attack.

Through a friend, Dr. Charles Warren (Nicholas Pryor), who is the curator of the Thorn Museum, Richard is introduced to journalist Joan Hart (Elizabeth Shephard), who was a colleague of Keith Jennings (David Warner) from the previous film. Having seen Yigael’s Wall and drawing a link to all the deaths that surrounded Damien, including Jennings’, Joan tries to warn Richard but he throws her out. After a confrontation with Warren and Ann Thorn at the Thorn Museum, Joan became unsure on whether Damien’s face matches the painting on Yigael’s Wall. Joan goes to meet Damien at his school, but when she sees his face she drives off in panic. On the road, her car mysteriously died down. Then she is attacked by a raven, which pecks her eyes out, causing her to be run over by a passing truck.

At Thorn Industries, manager Paul Buher (Robert Foxworth) suggests expanding the company’s operations into agriculture; however, the project is shelved by senior manager Bill Atherton (Lew Ayres), who calls Buher’s intention of buying up land in the process immoral. At Mark’s birthday, Buher introduces himself to Damien, invites him to see the plant, and also speaks of his approaching initiation. Buher seemingly makes up with Atherton, who drowns after falling through the ice at a hockey game the following day. A shocked Richard leaves on vacation. As Richard agreed to the agriculture project in principle and left him in charge of the company, Buher then initiates the plans on his own.

Meanwhile, at the academy, Damien’s new commander, Sgt. Neff (Lance Henriksen), takes the boy under his wing and warns him not to draw any attention on himself until the right moment. He also points him to Revelation, chapter 13, in which Damien reads about the beast. Finding its number, 666, scarred onto his scalp, he flees the Academy grounds in a terrified panic, distraught at being chosen as the vehicle for Satan’s will.

Another Thorn employee, David Pasarian (Allan Arbus), alerts Buher that some people were murdered after having refused to sell their land. Pasarian intended to inform Richard but the next day, some chemical machinery explodes and releases toxic fumes, killing Pasarian and his assistant, and injuring Damien’s class, who were visiting the plant. Damien alone did not suffer damage, but is taken to hospital as a precaution. A doctor (Meshach Taylor) discovers that Damien’s blood cell structure resembles that of a jackal, but before he can report this, he is cut in half by a falling elevator cable.

Meanwhile, Bugenhagen’s box has been found in the ruins and delivered to the Thorn Museum. When opened by Dr. Charles Warren, it contains the Seven Daggers of Meggido, the only weapons able to kill Damien, and the letter explaining that Damien is the Antichrist. Charles rushes to inform Richard, who however angrily refuses and throws him out. The next day, Richard confronts Anne with the letter, but she convinces him not to believe it.

Mark, who overheard Richard’s altercation with Charles, confronts Damien, who first reluctantly and then proudly admits to being the Devil’s son. Damien tries to convince Mark that he truly cares for him as his brother and asks Mark to join him, but Mark refuses. Damien kills Mark by introducing an aneurysm into his brain.

Shaken by his son’s death, Richard follows Charles’ invitation to New York. A half-crazy Warren takes him to Yigael’s Wall, stored in a cargo carrier, on which Richard sees Damien’s image. Immediately afterward, a switching locomotive hits the carrier, impaling Charles and destroying the wall, convincing Richard beyond doubt that Damien is the Antichrist.

Upon his return, Richard has Damien picked up from a ceremony at the academy and argues with Ann about Damien. As they find the daggers in Charles’ office in the Thorn Museum, Ann uses them to kill Richard, proclaiming that she “always belonged to him”. Ann is then engulfed by a fire, caused by Damien who overheard the altercation from outside. Damien, now heir to Thorn Industries, exits the museum and is picked up by a driver as the fire department arrives.

 

Cast

William Holden as Richard Thorn

Lee Grant as Ann Thorn

Jonathan Scott-Taylor as Damien Thorn

Robert Foxworth as Paul Buher

Nicholas Pryor as Dr. Charles Warren

Lew Ayres as Bill Atherton

Sylvia Sidney as Aunt Marion

Lance Henriksen as Sergeant Daniel Neff

Elizabeth Shephard as Joan Hart

Lucas Donat as Mark Thorn

Allan Arbus as David Pasarian

Meshach Taylor as Dr. Kane

Leo McKern (uncredited) as Carl Bugenhagen

Ian Hendry (uncredited) as Michael Morgan

 

Crew

David Seltzer, who wrote the first film’s screenplay, was asked by the producers to write the second. Seltzer refused as he had no interest in writing sequels. Years later, Seltzer commented that had he written the story for the second Omen, he would have set it the day after the first movie, with Damien a child living in The White House. With Seltzer turning down Omen II, producer Harvey Bernhard duly outlined the story himself, and Stanley Mann was hired to write the screenplay.

After Bernhard had finished writing the story outline and was given the green light to start the production, the first person he contacted was Jerry Goldsmith because of the composer’s busy schedule. Bernhard also felt that Goldsmith’s music for The Omen was the highest point of that movie, and that without Goldsmith’s music, the sequel would not be successful. Goldsmith’s Omen II score uses similar motifs to his original Omen score, but for the most part, Goldsmith avoided re-using the same musical cues. In fact, the first movie’s famous “Ave Satani” theme is used only partially, just before the closing credits begin. Goldsmith composed a largely different main title theme for Omen II, albeit one that utilises Latin phrases as “Ave Satani” had done. Goldsmith’s Omen II score allows eerie choral effects and unusual electronic sound designs to take precedence over the piano and gothic chanting.

Richard Donner, director of the first Omen movie, was not available to direct the second, as he was busy working on Superman. British film director Mike Hodges was hired to helm the movie. During production, the producers believed that Hodges’ methods were too slow, and so they fired him and replaced him with Don Taylor, who had a reputation for finishing films on time and under budget. However, the few scenes Hodges directed (some of the footage at the factory and at the military academy, all of the early archaeology scenes, and the dinner where Aunt Marion shows her concern about Damien) remained in the completed film, for which Hodges retains a story credit. In recent interviews, Hodges has commented sanguinely on his experiences working on Omen II.

 

Casting

Academy Award-winning veteran actor William Holden was the original choice to star as Robert Thorn in the first Omen, but turned it down as he did not want to star in a picture about the devil. Gregory Peck was selected as his replacement. The Omen went on to become a huge hit and Holden made sure he did not turn down the part of protagonist Richard Thorn in the sequel. Lee Grant, another Oscar-winner, was a fan of the first Omen and accepted enthusiastically the role of female protagonist-later-turncoat Ann Thorn.

Ray Berwick (1914 – 1990) trained and handled the crows used for several scenes in the film. Live birds and a crow-puppet were used for the attack on photojournalist Joan Hart. Berwick also trained the avian actors in Alfred Hitchcock’s The Birds (1963).

 

Locations

The movie was mainly set in Chicago and was largely filmed in downtown Chicago. The “Thorn Industries” building was actually Chicago’s city hall. Another scene took place at Graceland Cemetery. Scenes set at a New York City freight area were also shot in Chicago, with the CBOT Tower and the Willis Tower visible in the background.

Other locations included Lake Forest Academy’s campus, which was used as the Thorn Mansion, the Northwestern Military and Naval Academy’s Geneva Lake campus, which was used for the military academy, with real Geneva Lake students portraying most of the academy cadets, and Catfish Lake in Eagle River, Wisconsin for the skating scene, with local children playing the skaters.

 

Reception

The film received mixed reviews.[2] Some critics felt that in comparison to the serious tone of the original, there were moments (such as the sequence in which a woman whose eyes have been pecked out by a raven walks blindly onto a road only to be hit by a truck) which were unintentionally comic. The music by Jerry Goldsmith was again praised for its spooky build-up of suspense.

Joseph Howard wrote the novelization of Damien: Omen II. The novel was a best-seller, as David Seltzer’s novelization of the first movie had been.

 

Legacy

The film inspired Iron Maiden bassist and frontman, Steve Harris, to write “The Number of the Beast” four years after the film’s release, in 1982.

 

Soundtrack

Unlike The Omen (and The Final Conflict), Jerry Goldsmith’s score was recorded in the US, with the soundtrack album re-recorded in Britain for financial reasons. Lionel Newman conducted both the film and album versions; Varese Sarabande later released an expanded CD including both.

 

DVD release

The film was released as part of The Omen Quadrilogy set in the US and UK in 2000, and was not available separately until 2005. In 2006, to coincide with the DVD release of the remake of the original film, The Omen and its sequels were released individually and together in an ultimate Pentalogy boxset digitally remastered and with more bonus features. In 2008, it was released on Blu-ray with its predecessor and 1981 sequel, Omen III: The Final Conflict.

 

References

  1. http://www.boxofficemojo.com/movies/?id=omen2.htm
  2. “Rotten Tomatoes”. Retrieved 18 December 2010.

 

External links

 

Reviews

   6.1

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0077394/

 

 

   43%

http://www.rottentomatoes.com/m/damien_omen_ii/

 

The Omen

 

 

 

Certificate: R18

Released: 1976

Director: Richard Donner

Producer: Harvey Bernhard

Starring: Gregory Peck, Lee Remick, Harvey Stephens, David Warner, Billie Whitelaw

Screenwriters: David Seltzer

Running Time: 111 min

Trailer:

 YouTube Preview Image


Summary

A fantastic horror thriller that ranks alongside The Exorcist, The Shining and Halloween as one of the all-time greats. Creepy, chilling, disturbing, with the scariest of all child screen characters (Damien is Rosemary’s Baby now at school) with a young actor in Harvey Stephens that looks every bit as chilling as the character he’s playing, assured direction from Donner and an overpowering soundtrack from Goldsmith make this a superb horror classic. Oh yes, and it has that decapitation scene….

The Omen is a 1976 American suspense horror film directed by Richard Donner. The film stars Gregory Peck, Lee Remick, David Warner, Harvey Stephens, Billie Whitelaw, Patrick Troughton, Martin Benson and Leo McKern. It is the first film in The Omen series and was scripted by David Seltzer, who also wrote the novel.

A remake, The Omen, was released on June 6, 2006. This date was chosen as a reference to the Number of the Beast (666).

 

Plot

Wealthy American Ambassador Robert Thorn’s (Gregory Peck) wife Kathy (Lee Remick) delivered their baby in a hospital in Rome, but it died shortly after birth. Knowing how much the baby’s death would affect her emotionally, he is persuaded by a priest to adopt and substitute another baby whose mother died in childbirth in its place, without revealing the exchange to his wife.

Two years later, Robert Thorn is appointed Ambassador to Great Britain and the family moves to England. The son, Damien (Harvey Stephens), grows older and at his fifth birthday party, a large outdoor event, a news photographer named Keith Jennings (David Warner) is present taking pictures. When Damien is handed off to his mother by his nanny, the nanny sees a black dog, leaves the party, and inexplicably goes up to the roof of their house and hangs herself in front of the crowd. Kathy Thorn blames herself because she took Damien away from her out of jealousy at the attention the crowd gave her while tending Damien earlier.

A new nanny arrives at the Thorn home and introduces herself as Mrs. Baylock (Billie Whitelaw), who says she had been sent from the agency when they learned that their other nanny had died. She immediately challenges Kathy Thorn’s authority when she is instructed to dress and ready Damien to attend a church wedding with them, but she does as she is told.

The Thorns travel to the church and Damien becomes more fearful as their car approaches the church. He has a violent reaction in which he injures his mother trying to get away. The car pulls away hurridly and while the Thorns discuss Damien’s reaction and whether he should be examined by a doctor, they realize he has never been sick a day in his life.

Robert Thorn returns home and as he approaches the child’s bedroom, the black dog that was outside earlier is now in front of Damien’s room, growling. Mrs. Baylock says that they found him outside and she felt that they needed a good watchdog for Damien. Thorn tells the nanny to get rid of the dog.

As Thorn leaves the house, he is badgered by Jennings about circumstances around the previous nanny’s death.

Later, in his office, Thorn is visited by a priest, Father Brennan (Patrick Troughton), who claims to have been present during Damien’s birth. He begs Thorn to accept Christ, because only then can he fight the son of the devil. He tells Thorn that Damien was born of a jackal and will kill everyone around him. The priest is escorted out by security and Jennings takes note of the visitor, snapping pictures. While developing the pictures of the day, Jennings notices the priest has a dark object like a javelin over his head in the pictures he appears in, but the anomaly doesn’t appear anywhere else on the film.

The next scene shows Kathy Thorn with Damien, traveling through a safari park, and various animals react with fear or anger towards Damien. Meanwhile, Robert Thorn is followed by the priest that met with him earlier and is pulled aside at a public event; the priest tells him that his wife is in danger and he needs to talk to him. Jennings is also at the event, taking pictures. The pictures again show the dark anomaly above the priest.

When Thorn meets with the priest again, he is told that Damien is the son of the devil and will kill his wife’s unborn child as well as his wife. The priest instructs Thorn to go to Megiddo to find a man who can tell him how to kill the son of the devil. Thorn thinks he is crazy and says never to bother him again. As the priest leaves, a sudden rainstorm comes up and the priest is impaled in a freak accident while trying to get into a nearby church.

Thorn goes home and his wife tells him she is pregnant. Startled by this news, he also receives a phone call telling him to examine the newspaper’s cover story about the priest’s bizarre death. Kathy has been agitated by Damien of late, causing her to visit a therapist, and tells Robert she wants to terminate the pregnancy. Disturbed by this, Thorn decides to go to the therapist to discuss Kathy’s concerns and on his way back, Kathy has an accident that causes her to miscarry.

Jennings calls for Robert Thorn to meet him and he shows him the photographic anomalies, and Thorn tells him about the priest’s warnings. Jennings said he is now involved because he found an anomaly on a picture of himself in which he has no neck. He takes Thorn to the priest’s residence, which he has access to due to the police investigation into his death, and they find an odd collection of crosses and Bible pages everywhere.

They travel to Italy together to find the monk that gave him Damien at the hospital. The monk, now severely injured due to a fire that burned the hospital down, writes out the name of a cemetery that lies in ruins, the former site of a shrine dedicated to the devil-god Techulca. Thorn calls his wife to tell her he wants her to leave London and travel to Rome.

At the cemetery, they find the gravesites of both Damien’s mother and the Thorns’ baby – the mother’s grave contains a jackal’s remains, and the other grave contains a baby whose skull was crushed. Thorn realizes his baby was murdered in order to swap its place with Damien. As they leave the cemetery, they are attacked by a pack of dogs led by a black dog, and manage to escape. Back at the hotel, Thorn receives a phone call and finds out his wife has apparently jumped to her death from her hospital room. In his grief, he tells Jennings that he wants to go to Megiddo and that he wants Damien to die.

They travel to Jerusalem and find that Megiddo is an archaeologic dig, almost completely underground. A man appears and takes them to Bugenhagen, the man the priest told Thorn to find. He insists on talking to Thorn alone. He gives Thorn seven special daggers, explains their significance and how to kill Damien. He also tells Thorn that Damien will have the mark of the Beast, three sixes, somewhere on his body.

Thorn and Jennings leave, and Thorn flings the bundle of knives away saying he won’t kill a child. Jennings goes after the knives, saying he will do it, and is decapitated in a freak accident.

Thorn flies home, with the knives, and battles the black dog and nanny as he shaves Damien’s head to look for the mark of the Beast. He fights them off and carries Damien to his car, where they follow him and continue to attack. He manages to seriously injure both and drives Damien to a church.

Damien panics and struggles as Thorn drags him to the church. Meanwhile, the police have seen Thorn fighting the nanny and dog and follow him to the church. As Thorn raises his hand with a knife to kill Damien, the police shoot him.

The final scene shows Damien, now heir to Thorn Enterprises, attending the Thorns’ funeral in the care of Thorn’s old college roommate, the President of the United States of America.

 

Cast

Gregory Peck as Robert Thorn

Lee Remick as Katherine Thorn

David Warner as Keith Jennings

Billie Whitelaw as Mrs Baylock

Harvey Stephens as Damien Thorn

Patrick Troughton as Father Brennan

Martin Benson as Father Spiletto

Leo McKern as Carl Bugenhagen

Robert Rietty as Monk

Tommy Duggan as Priest

John Stride as The Psychiatrist

Anthony Nicholls as Dr Becker

Holly Palance as Nanny

Roy Boyd as Reporter

Freda Dowie as Nun

Sheila Raynor as Mrs Horton

Robert MacLeod as Horton

Bruce Boa as Thorn’s Aide

 

Alternate endings

Two endings were filmed. The original ending featured a child’s casket with Robert and Katherine’s, indicating Damien was also killed,[1] but the studio head, Alan Ladd, Jr., said whilst The Omen was a great movie the first ending was a mistake: you cannot kill the devil. He gave Donner additional funds to re-film the ending.

 

Music

The Omen
 
Soundtrack album by Jerry Goldsmith
Released 1976
Genre Film music
Length 34:16
Label 20th Century Fox
Producer Jerry Goldsmith

An original score for the film was composed by Jerry Goldsmith, for which he received the only Oscar of his long career. The score features a strong choral segment, with a foreboding Latin chant. The refrain to the chant is, “Sanguis bibimus, corpus edimus, tolle corpus Satani” (Latin, “We drink the blood, we eat the flesh, raise the body of Satan”), interspersed with cries of “Ave Satani!” and “Ave Versus Christus” (Latin, “Hail, Satan!” and “Hail, Antichrist!”). Aside from the choral work, the score includes lyrical themes portraying the pleasant home life of the Thorn family, which are contrasted with the more disturbing scenes of the family’s confrontation with evil.

 

Box office performance

The Omen was a massive commercial success in the United States. It grossed $4,273,886 in its opening weekend and $60,922,980 domestically on a tight budget of $2,800,000.[2][3] The film was the fourth highest grossing movie of 1976.

 

Critical reception

The Omen received mostly positive reviews from critics and is considered by many as one of the best films of 1976, as well as one of the best horror films ever made.[4][5][6] The film holds an 84% “Fresh” rating on the review aggregate website Rotten Tomatoes.[7] The movie boasted a particularly disturbing scene, in which a character willingly and joyfully hangs herself at a birthday party attended by young children. It also features a violent decapitation scene (caused by a horizontal sheet of plate glass), one of mainstream Hollywood’s first: “If there were a special Madame Defarge Humanitarian Award for best decapitation,” wrote Kim Newman in Nightmare Movies (1988), “this lingering, slow-motion sequence would get my vote.”

On the flip side, The Omen appeared in The Fifty Worst Films of All Time 1978 by Harry Medved (co-author of the Golden Turkey Awards) and Randy Dreyfuss.

The Omen received recognition from the American Film Institute. It was ranked number 81 on 100 Years… 100 Thrills, a list of America’s most heart-pounding films.[8] and the score byJerry Goldsmith was nominated for AFI’s 100 Years of Film Scores.[9] The film was ranked #16 on Bravo’s 100 Scariest Movie Moments.[10] Similarly, the Chicago Film Critics’ Associationnamed it the 31st scariest film ever made.[11]

 

Awards and nominations

The film received numerous accolades for its acting, writing, music and technical achievements. Jerry Goldsmith won the Academy Award for Best Original Score and received an additional nomination for Best Original Song for “Ave Satani”. Goldsmith’s score was also nominated for a Grammy award for Best Album of Original Score Written for a Motion Picture.Billie Whitelaw was nominated for a BAFTA film award for Best Supporting Actress for her performance. She was also awarded the Evening Standard British Film Award for Best Actress. The film also received recognition by the Hollywood Foreign Press Association. Harvey Stephens was nominated for a Golden Globe for Best Acting Debut – Male. David Seltzer’s original screenplay was nominated by the Writers Guild of America for Best Drama Written Directly for the Screen and for the Edgar Allan Poe Award for Best Motion Picture. The film was nominated for the Saturn Award for Best Horror Film. Gilbert Taylor won the Best Cinematography Award from the British Society of Cinematographers.[12]

 

Novels

David Seltzer, The Omen. (Futura, 1976).

Joseph Howard, Damien: Omen II. (Futura, 1978).

Gordon McGill, Omen III: The Final Conflict. (Futura, 1980).

Gordon McGill, Omen IV: Armageddon 2000. (Futura, 1983).

Gordon McGill, Omen V: The Abomination. (Futura, 1985).

Both the movie and the novelization were written by David Seltzer (the book preceded the movie by two weeks as an effective marketing gimmick). For the book, Seltzer took liberties with his own material, augmenting plot points and character backgrounds and changing details (such as character names — Holly becomes Chessa Whyte, Keith Jennings becomes Huber Jennings, Father Brennan becomes Father Edgardo Emilio Tassone, et cetera). The second and third novels were novelized forms of their respective movies and more-or-less reflected movie continuity. Interestingly, Gordon McGill retroactively changed the time period of The Omen to the 1950s, in order to make The Final Conflict (featuring an adult Damien) take place explicitly in the 1980s. Although neither the first Omen movie nor its novelisation mention what year the story takes place, it can be assumed that its setting was intended to be the year the movie was released (i.e. 1976).

The fourth novel, Omen IV: Armageddon 2000, was entirely unrelated to the fourth movie, but continued the story of Omen III. Its premise is based on the one-night stand between Damien Thorn and Kate Reynolds in Omen III. This affair included an act of sodomy and thence Kate gave the (rectal) “birth” of another diabolical entity called “the abomination” (presumably after the “abomination of desolation” from the book of Daniel) in Omen IV. This novel attempted to patch one of the Omen series’ more glaring plot-holes, namely the question of whether the Antichrist could be slain by a single one of the “Seven Sacred Daggers of Megiddo” (which occurred in Omen III) or only by all of them (as stated in the first book and movie). The solution reached was that one dagger could kill Damien’s form, but not his soul. This explanation was also explicitly stated in the first movie. Damien’s acolyte Paul Buher (played by Robert Foxworth in the second movie and mentioned, though not seen, in the third) is a major character in the fourth book and achieves redemption in its climax.

This story was concluded in the fifth novel, Omen V: The Abomination. The novel begins with a “memoriam” listing all of the characters who had been killed throughout the saga up to that point, and which states Damien’s life as having taken place in the period of 1950–1982. The story ends with the death of Damien’s son, and the character Jack Mason deciding to chronicle Damien’s story in book-form. The opening lines he writes are exactly the same words which begin David Seltzer’s novelization of the first film, bringing the series full-circle.

 

References

  1.  The Curse of the Omen television program
  2.  “Box Office Information for The Omen”. Box Office Mojo. Retrieved 2010-05-21.
  3.  “Box Office and Business Information for The Omen”.IMDb.com. Retrieved May 21, 2010.
  4.  “The Greatest Films of 1976″. AMC Filmsite.org. Retrieved May 21, 2010.
  5.  “The Best Movies of 1976 by Rank”. Films101.com. Retrieved May 21, 2010.
  6.  “Most Popular Feature Films Released in 1976″. IMDb.com. Retrieved May 22, 2010.
  7.  “The Omen Movie Reviews, Pictures”. Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved May 21, 2010.
  8.  “AFI’s 100 Years… 100 Thrills”. American Film Institute. Retrieved May 21, 2010.
  9.  AFI’s 100 Years of Film Scores Ballot
  10.  “Bravo’s The 100 Scariest Movie Moments”. web.archive.org. Archived from the original on October 30, 2007. Retrieved May 21, 2010.
  11.  “Chicago Critics’ Scariest Films”. AltFilmGuide.com. Retrieved May 21, 2010.
  12.  “The Omen: Award Wins and Nominations”. IMDb.com. Retrieved May 21, 2010.

 

External links

 

Reviews

  7.6

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0075005/

 

   82%

http://www.rottentomatoes.com/m/1015517-omen/

 

The Wicker Man


 

 

 

Certificate: 15

Released:  December 1973 (UK)

Director: Robin Hardy

Producer: Peter Snell

Starring: Edward Woodward, Britt Ekland, Diane Cilento, Ingrid Pitt, Christopher Lee

Screenwriters: Anthony Shaffer (screenplay), David Pinner novel “Ritual” (uncredited)

Running Time: 88 min

Trailer:

 YouTube Preview Image

 

Summary

Like The Shining, this is a horror film which is filmed mostly in broad daylight, and very seldom ventures into the dark like the horror genre typically does. It is reminiscent of the Hammer House of Horror series, in which the central character remains sane and normal, when all around him is slowly turning weird and crazy. Woodward holds the plot together with a bold performance, but special mention must go to Lee, who excels here with fittingly sinister undertones. Its creepiest element is not the inevitable burning climax, but smaller moments – the rabbit in a coffin, Ekland dancing and wall slapping naked in the room next door, a child falling out of the closet and pretending to be dead, bizarre animal masks, Aubrey Morris (Mr. Deltoid’s Clockwork Orange) with his evil grin. An undisputed British horror classic.

The Wicker Man is a 1973 British film, combining thriller, horror and musical genres, directed by Robin Hardy and written by Anthony Shaffer. The film stars Edward Woodward, Christopher Lee, Diane Cilento, Ingrid Pitt, and Britt Ekland. Paul Giovanni composed the soundtrack. The film is now considered a cult classic.

Inspired by the basic scenario of David Pinner’s 1967 novel The Ritual, the story centres on the visit of Police Sergeant Neil Howie to the isolated island of Summerisle, in search of a missing girl the locals claim never existed. Howie is a devout Christian, and is appalled by a religion loosely inspired by Celtic paganism practised by the inhabitants of the island.

The Wicker Man is generally well regarded by critics and film enthusiasts. Film magazine Cinefantastique described it as “The Citizen Kane of Horror Movies”, and during 2004 the magazine Total Film named The Wicker Man the sixth greatest British film of all time. It also won the 1978 Saturn Award for Best Horror Film. A scene from this film was #45 on Bravo’s 100 Scariest Movie Moments.

In his 2010 BBC documentary series A History of Horror, writer and actor Mark Gatiss referred to the film as a prime example of a short-lived sub-genre he called “folk horror”, grouping it with 1968′s Witchfinder General and 1971′s Blood on Satan’s Claw.[1][2]

A poorly-received[3] 2006 Canadian/German/American remake was produced, from which Robin Hardy and others involved with the original have disassociated themselves.

The Wicker Tree, a “spiritual sequel” also directed by Hardy, is set for release in 2011.

 

Plot

Sergeant Neil Howie of the West Highland Police receives an anonymous letter requesting his presence on Summerisle, a remoteHebridean island famed for its popular and unusually abundant fruit produce. A young girl named Rowan Morrison has been missing for a number of months and her mother is being uncooperative with enquiries. Due to the island’s isolation it is unlikely she could have left by herself, abduction is suspected.

The (real) Summer Isles from Ben Mòr Coigach

 

Howie, a devout and celibate Christian, travels by seaplane to the island and is profoundly disturbed to find a society that worships the old pagan, Celtic gods of their ancestors. Couples copulate openly in the fields, children are taught in school of the phallic importance of the maypole, toads are placed in the mouth to cure whooping cough and the island does not have any Christian ministers or priests, its church and graveyards long having been deconsecrated and now used for the idiosyncratic burial rituals of the locals who believe in re-incarnation.

In the course of his investigation, Howie encounters difficulty in extracting information from the islanders, who claim never to have heard of Rowan and whose own mother insists does not exist. Rooming at The Green Man Inn, where he is introduced to the beautiful young daughter of the landlord, Willow, Howie notices a series of photographs celebrating the island’s annual harvests adorning the wall of the bar with each photograph featuring a young girl, the May Queen. The latest photograph is missing due to it being “broken”. No negative exists.

After discovering a grave bearing Rowan Morrison’s name in the cemetary, Howie’s search eventually brings him into contact with the island’s community leader, Laird and de facto figurehead Lord Summerisle, who explains to Howie the island’s recent history and culture. Summerisle’s grandfather, a distinguished Victorian scientist, developed several new strains of fruit that he believed could prosper in Scotland’s climate given the proper conditions. Drawn to Summerisle’s unique combination of fertile, volcanic soil and local waters heated by the Gulf Stream, he inculcated in the local populace a belief that the old gods were real and worshipping them by farming the new crop strains would deliver them from their meagre livelihood. The crops bore fruit and the island’s Christian clergy were driven away, with the population now embracing pagan teachings wholesale. Enraged by Summerisle’s glib comment that the Christian god is “dead”, Howie demands permission to exhume Rowan’s body, which Lord Summerisle subsequently grants, confident in the belief that such a deeply religious community as his is incapabale of murder. Howie’s exhumation of the grave reveals only the body of a hare. He angrily confronts Summerisle once more, declaring that he believes that Rowan Morrison was murdered as part of a pagan sacrifice and that he intends to bring the full weight of the law upon the inhabitants of the island.

Breaking into the local chemist’s shop, Howie discovers that a negative of last year’s harvest photograph does in fact exist. It shows Rowan standing amidst a meagre, pathetic group of boxes, indicating that last year’s harvest was a poor one and that the crops – the island’s only means of income – had failed. Struck by his recollection of an offhand remark made by Lord Summerisle about appeasing the old gods “when necessary” and by research that indicates pagan societies offer up a human sacrifice in the event of crop failure, Howie deduces that Rowan is in fact still alive and that she is being kept hidden until she can be sacrificed as part of the May Day celebrations to ensure a plentiful harvest for the coming year.

Howie spends another night at the Inn where, in the room next to his, Willow sings to him and openly attempts to seduce him. The next morning, discovering that his plane has been sabotaged and is unable to take off, Howie elects to search the island for Rowan himself ahead of the impending May Day parade. Howie ties up the innkeeper and assumes his place asPunch, a principal character of the May Day festival. Disguised, he joins the procession of islanders as they cavort through the town and perform harmless sacrifices to the various lesser gods. Then Lord Summerisle announces that a grimmer sacrifice awaits them, and Rowan is finally revealed, tied to a post. Howie cuts her free and flees through a cave but after a brief chase emerges at another entrance on a precipice where Summerisle and his followers stand waiting for them. Howie is shocked to see Rowan merrily embrace her captors and then notices that he is being surrounded.

Lord Summerisle explains to Howie that, after painstaking research on their behalf, he specifically was lured to Summerisle by the islanders, who have been successful in a conspiracy to lead him to believe that a missing girl was being held captive against her will, and confirms to him that last year’s harvest failed disastrously, threatening the inhabitants with a return to their previously desperate existence and that they have no intention of allowing that to happen. Their religion calls for a sacrifice to be made to the Sun god as Lord Summerisle explains that, “animals are fine, but their acceptibility is limited. A young child is even better, but not nearly as effective as the right kind of adult.” Howie’s devout Christian lifestyle and his livelihood as a policeman mean that he meets the outstanding criteria for a human that is to be sacrificed to appease the gods – he has come of his own free will, with the power of a king and he is a virgin. In spite of his protestations that the crops failed because fruit was not meant to grow on these islands and that next year the sacrifice of Lord Summerisle himself will be called for, Howie is stripped bare, then dressed in ceremonial robes and led to the summit of a cliff. He is horrified to find a giant, hollow, wicker man statue which he is then locked inside. The statue is soon set afire. As the islanders surround the burning wicker man and sing the Middle English folk-song “Sumer Is Icumen In”, a terrified Howie curses them and recites Psalm 23 as he prays to his god for accession to Heaven. The film ends as the burning head of the wicker man falls from its shoulders, leaving only the setting Sun.

 

Cast

Edward Woodward as Sergeant Howie

Christopher Lee as Lord Summerisle

Diane Cilento as Miss Rose

Britt Ekland as Willow

Ingrid Pitt as Librarian

Lindsay Kemp as Alder MacGregor

Russell Waters as Harbour Master

Aubrey Morris as Old Gardener / Gravedigger

Irene Sunter as May Morrison

Walter Carr as School Master

Roy Boyd as Broome

Peter Brewis as Musician

Gerry Cowper as Rowan Morrison

John Hallam as Police Constable McTaggart

 

Background and production

Christopher Lee was well known as a Hammer Films regular, in particular playing Dracula in a series of successful films. At the time, Lee wanted to expand his acting roles, and collaborated with British Lion head Peter Snell and playwright Anthony Shaffer (already well known for Sleuth) to develop a film based on the David Pinner novel. Though the book was all but completely abandoned (all that survived from Pinner’s book into the finished film is the scene in which Howie presses himself against his bedroom wall as a means of communing with the siren-like calls of Willow next door), the idea of an idealistic confrontation between a modern Christian and a remote, pagan community continued to intrigue Shaffer, who performed painstaking research on the topic. Brainstorming with director Robin Hardy, the film was conceived as presenting the pagan elements objectively and accurately, accompanied by authentic music and a believable, contemporary setting.

Television actor Edward Woodward was cast in the role of the policeman after the part was declined by both Michael York and David Hemmings.[4] In Britain Woodward was best known for the role of Callan, which he played from 1967 to 1972. He came to international attention portraying the title character of the 1980 Australian film Breaker Morant. (American audiences probably know Woodward best for his role in the 1980s CBS TV series The Equalizer.)

Diane Cilento was lured out of semi-retirement after Shaffer saw her on the stage[4] to play the town’s schoolmistress, and Ingrid Pitt (another British horror film veteran) was cast as the town librarian and registrar. The Swedish actress Britt Ekland was cast as the innkeeper’s lascivious daughter, although her singing and possibly all of her dialogue was redubbed by Annie Ross,[5] and some of her nude dancing was performed by a double called Jane Jackson who lived in Castle Douglas at the time.

The film was produced at a time of crisis for the British film industry. The studio in charge of production, British Lion Films, was in financial trouble and was bought by wealthy businessman John Bentley. To convince the unions that he was not about to asset-strip the company, Bentley needed to get a film into production quickly. This meant that The Wicker Man, a film set during spring, was actually filmed in October: artificial leaves and blossoms had to be glued to trees in many scenes. The scenes at Culzean Castle were filmed during February, 1972. The production was kept on a small budget.[4] Christopher Lee was extremely keen to get the film made; he and others worked on the production without pay.[6]While filming took place, British Lion was bought by EMI Films.

The film was shot almost entirely in the small Scottish towns of Gatehouse of Fleet, Newton Stewart, Kirkcudbright and a few scenes in the village of Creetown in Dumfries and Galloway, as well as Plockton in Ross-shire. Culzean Castle in Ayrshire and its grounds were also used for much of the shooting. Some of the opening flying shoots feature the Isle of Skye, including the spectacular pinnacles of The Old Man of Storr and the Quiraing. The amphibian aircraft that takes Sergeant Howie from the religious certainties of the mainland to the ancient beliefs of the island was a Thurston Teal. The end burning of the Wicker Man occurred at Burrow Head (on a caravan site). According to Britt Ekland, some animals did actually perish inside the Wicker Man.

 

Distribution

By the time of the film’s completion the studio had been bought by EMI, and British Lion was managed by Michael Deeley. The DVD commentary track states that studio executives suggested a more “upbeat” ending to the film, in which a sudden rain puts the flames of the wicker man out and spares Howie’s life, but this suggestion was refused. Hardy subsequently had to remove about 20 minutes of scenes on the mainland, early investigations, and (to Lee’s disappointment) some of Lord Summerisle’s initial meeting with Howie.[4]

A copy of a finished, 99-minute film[5] was sent to American film producer Roger Corman in Hollywood to make a judgment of how to market the film in the USA. Corman recommended an additional 13 minutes be cut from the film. (Corman did not acquire US release rights, and eventually Warner Bros. test-marketed the film in drive-ins.) In Britain, the film was ordered reduced to roughly 87 minutes, with some narrative restructuring, and released as the ”B” picture on a double bill with Don’t Look Now. Despite Lee’s claims that the cuts had adversely affected the film’s continuity, he urged local critics to see the film, even going so far as to offer to pay for their seats.

 

Restorations

During the mid-1970s, Hardy made inquiries about the film, hoping to restore it to his original vision. Along with Lee and Shaffer, Hardy searched for his original version or raw footage. Both of these appeared to have been lost. Alex Cox said that the negative “ended up in the pylons that support the M4 motorway” in his Moviedrome introduction of 1988.[7] Hardy remembered that a copy of the film, prior to Deeley’s cuts, was sent to Roger Corman; it turned out that Corman still had a copy, possibly the only existing print of Hardy’s version. The US rights had been sold by Warner Bros. to a small firm called Abraxas, managed by film buff Stirling Smith and critic John Simon. Stirling agreed to an American re-release of Hardy’s reconstructed version. Hardy restored the narrative structure, some of the erotic elements which had been excised, and a very brief pre-title segment of Howie on the mainland (appearing at a church with his fiancée). A 96-minute restored version was released in January 1979,[4] again to critical acclaim. Strangely, the original full-length film was available in the US on VHS home video from Media Home Entertainment (and later, Magnum) during the 1980s and 1990s. This video included additional, early scenes in Howie’s police station that Hardy had left out of the 1979 version.

During 2001 the film’s new worldwide rights owners, Canal+, began an effort to release the full-length film. Corman’s full-length film copy had been lost, but a telecine transfer to 1-inch videotape existed. With this copy, missing elements were combined with film elements from the previous versions. (In particular, additional scenes of Howie on the mainland were restored, showing the chaste bachelor to be the object of gossip at his police station, and establishing his rigidly devout posture.) The DVD “Extended version” released by Canal+ (with Anchor Bay Entertainment handling US DVD distribution) is this hybrid version, considered the longest and closest version to Hardy’s original, 99-minute version of the film.[4] A two-disc limited edition set was sold with both the shortened, theatrical release version and the newly restored extended version, and a retrospective documentary, The Wicker Man Enigma.[8] In 2005, Inside The Wicker Man author Allan Brown revealed he had discovered a series of stills taken on-set during the film’s production showing the shooting of a number of sequences from the script that had never been seen before; indeed, it had never been certain that these scenes had actually been filmed. They include a scene in which Howie closes a mainland pub that is open after hours, has an encounter with a prostitute, receives a massage from Willow McGregor and observes a brutal confrontation between Oak and a villager in The Green Man pub. These images might be featured in a revised edition of the book Inside The Wicker Man.

Anchor Bay Entertainment released a limited edition wooden box of The Wicker Man. Fifty thousand 2-disc sets were made, of which 20 were signed by actors Christopher Lee and Edward Woodward, writer Anthony Shaffer, producer Peter Snell, and director Robin Hardy.

 

Reception

The Wicker Man had moderate success and won first prize in the 1974 Festival of Fantastic Films in Paris, but largely slipped into obscurity. In 1977 the American film magazine Cinefantastique devoted a commemorative issue to the film,[9] asserting that the film is “the Citizen Kane of horror movies” – an oft-quoted phrase attributed to this issue.[10]

During 2003 the Crichton Campus of the University of Glasgow in Dumfries and Galloway hosted a three-day conference on The Wicker Man.[11] The conference led to two collections of articles about the film.

During 2006, The Wicker Man ranked 45th on Bravo’s 100 Scariest Movie Moments.[12]

Wicker Man actress Britt Ekland appeared on the British TV show Friday Night with Jonathan Ross on BBC1 on February 1, 2008. Ross described the movie as one of his “all time favourites”, and presented the infamous “wall slapping” scene from the film. Britt explained that she had refused to dance fully nude in the scene because she recently learned she was pregnant; Scottish housewife Jane Jackson appeared as a body double.[13]

Decades after its release, the film still receives positive reviews from critics and is considered one of the best films of 1973.[14][15] The film currently holds a 89% “Fresh” rating on the review aggregate website Rotten Tomatoes.[16] In 2008, The Wicker Man was ranked by Empire Magazine as 485th of The 500 Greatest Movies of All Time.[17]

A stage adaptation was announced for the 2009 Edinburgh Festival Fringe,[18] to be directed by Andrew Steggall, based on the original script, with input from Robin Hardy, and original songs and music from the film to be supervised by Gary Carpenter, the original music director.[19][20] Workshop rehearsals were held at the Drill Hall in London in March 2008,[21] and a casting call was held in Glasgow in May 2009.[22] After three weeks at the Pleasance in Edinburgh in August 2009, the production was to visit the Perth Rep, the Eden Court Theatre in Inverness, and then have a short run at Citizen’s Theatre in Glasgow, with hopes for a run in London in 2010.[23] However, in July 2009 it was announced that the production had been cancelled, three weeks before it had been due to preview.[24]

 

Soundtrack

An important and often overlooked element to the film is the soundtrack, which often forms a major component of the narrative, just as with other important arthouse films of the era such as Nicholas Roeg’s Performance.[25] Memorable songs accompany all of the crucial scenes i.e. the plane’s arrival, Willow’s dancing, the maypole dance, the girls jumping through fire, the search of the houses and the final burning scene. Indeed, director Robin Hardy surprised the cast by suddenly announcing midway through filming that they were making a “musical” (according to Seamus Flannery in a subsequent documentary).

Composed, arranged and recorded by Paul Giovanni and Magnet, the soundtrack contains folk songs performed by characters in the film. The songs vary between traditional songs, original Giovanni compositions and even nursery rhyme in “Baa, Baa, Black Sheep”.

“Willow’s Song” has been covered or sampled by various rock music bands. It was covered by the Sneaker Pimps as “How Do”, and can be heard in the movie Hostel (2006). The song is included also in their 1996 release “Becoming X”. Additionally, the band has also covered “Gently Johnny” as “Johnny” and is featured as a B-Side on their “Roll On” (1996) single.

The songs on the soundtrack were not actual cult songs used by pagans, as some have claimed[who?]. All the songs were composed by Paul Giovanni, except in instances where he used well-known lyrics such as the words from the rhyme “Baa, Baa, Black Sheep”. The song sung by the cultists of Summer Isle at the end of the film, “Sumer Is Icumen In” is a real song from the mid-13th century, but is not about Pagan rites as such. It is instead a song about Spring, or the Crucifixion if using the Latin words.

 

Remake

A remake, starring Nicolas Cage and Ellen Burstyn and directed by Neil LaBute was released on September 1, 2006. Robin Hardy expressed concern about the remake.[26] After its release, Hardy simply described it as a different film rather than a remake.[27] The remake was panned critically and was also a failure at the box office. Today it has a significant cult following as an unintentional comedy, with several scenes on YouTube boasting Cage brutalizing various women throughout and terrorizing children, a fan-made comedy trailer of the film, and more.[28]

Hardy is filming a follow up to The Wicker Man, which has previously gone under the working titles May Day Riding the Laddie and Cowboys for Christ and is now referred to as The Wicker Tree. Hardy has already published this story as a novel. First announced during April 2000, filming on the project began on 19 July 2009 according to iMDb. It follows two young American Christian evangelists who travel to Scotland; like Woodward’s character in The Wicker Man, the two Americans are virgins who encounter a pagan laird and his followers.[29]

 

Footnotes

  1.  Clarke, Donald. “Mark Gatiss’s History of Horror”Irish Times.com. Retrieved 2010-11-02.
  2.  “A History of Horror with Mark Gatiss – Home Counties Horror Ep 2/3″. BBC. 2010-10-18.
  3.  The Wicker Man (2006) has a 15 percent rating on Rotten TomatoesThe Wicker Man (2006) – Ratings Rotten Tomatoes.
  4.  a b c d e f Philips, Steve (2002). “The various versions of The Wicker ManSteve’s Web Page. Retrieved 2006-12-11.
  5.  a b Kermode, Mark. “Something Wicker This Way Comes”Channel4. Retrieved 2009-01-30.
  6.  The Wicker Man (Trivia) at the Internet Movie Database
  7.  Cox, Alex. “Moviedrome – Wicker Man – Alex Cox intro”YouTube. Retrieved 2009-02-20.
  8.  The Wicker Man Enigma 2001 documentary on the film’s production and releases. at the Internet Movie Database
  9.  The Wicker Man Issue, Cinefantastique, 1977 (Vol. 6 No. 3).
  10.  “Google search for quote”. Retrieved 2009-01-30.
  11.  Dr. Benjamin Franks, Lecturer Conferences: The Wicker Man: Readings Rituals and Reactions, July 2003. http://gla.ac.uk; University of Glasgow. Retrieved 2010-05-30.
  12.  “The 100 Scariest Movie Moments”. Bravo TV. October 27, 2006. Archived from the original on 2007-10-30. Retrieved 2010-05-30.
  13.  Morrison, Jenny (September 15, 2009). “Why being Britt’s body double was a bum deal”. The Daily Mail. Archived from the original on 2009-09-15.
  14.  Dirks, Tim (2010) The Greatest Films of 1973 filmsite.orgAmerican Movie Channel. Retrieved 2010-05-30.
  15.  (anonymous) Most Popular Feature Films Released In 1973 imdb.com; Amazon.com. Retrieved 2010-05-30.
  16.  Wicker Man (1973) ratings Rotten Tomatoes.
  17.  “The 500 Greatest Movies of All Time”empireonline.comEmpire Magazine. Retrieved 2009-01-30.
  18.  Edinburgh Fringe Programme LaunchedSTV News, 10 June 2009
  19.  Wicker Man Set for Stage Crossover???, WhatsOnStage.com, 8 February 2008
  20.  The Motion Group website, March 2008, via archive.org
  21.  Brian Pendreigh, The Wicker Man and the ShowgirlScotland on Sunday, 8 March 2008
  22.  Brian Pendreigh, Wicker Man rewoven for the Fringe stageDaily Mail, 26 May 2009
  23.  The Wicker Man, The Musical, Wild Hunt blog, 11 June 2009
  24.  The Wicker Man facebook page, 10 July 2009
  25.  Sean H. Stewart. “10 of the Most Underrated Horror Scores!”. BloodyDisgusting.
  26.  Pendreigh, Brian (2005-09-11). “Wicker Man director is flaming furious over Hollywood remake”. Retrieved 2009-01-30.
  27.  nqure (2006-09-04). “Original Wickerman Screening + Q+A with Robin Hardy”IMDb Boards. Retrieved 2009-01-30.
  28.  Best Scenes From “The Wicker Man” on YouTube
  29.  Buckley, Heather. “Exclusive: A Night with The Wicker Man / The Wicker Tree Footage Premiere Report”. DreadCentral.

 

References

 

External Links

 

Soundtrack

 

Related film documentaries

 

Other sites

 

Reviews

  7.7

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0070917/

 

   89%

http://www.rottentomatoes.com/m/1023637-wicker_man/

 

Don’t Look Now

 

 

 

 

Certificate: 15

Released: 1973

Director: Nicolas Roeg

Producer: Peter Katz

Starring: Julie Christie, Donald Sutherland, Hilary Mason

Screenwriter: Daphne Du Maurier, Allan Scott, Chris Bryant

Running Time: 110 mins

Trailer: 

 YouTube Preview Image

 

Summary

One of the creepiest films of all time, which does no favours whatsoever for the Venice tourist board. Forget the terrifying red riding hooded dwarf. The city of Venice is depicted as something far more disturbing here. A 5 star classic, and one of the greatest horror films ever made. Along with Walkabout and Performance, this is Roeg at his finest.

Don’t Look Now is a 1973 occult thriller film directed by Nicolas Roeg. Adapted from the short story by Daphne du Maurier, it stars Julie Christie and Donald Sutherland as a married couple whose lives become complicated after meeting two elderly sisters in Venice, one of whom claims to be clairvoyant and informs them that their recently deceased daughter is trying to contact them to warn them of danger.

While Don’t Look Now observes many conventions of the thriller genre, its primary focus is on the psychology of grief, and the effect the death of a child can have on a relationship. Its emotionally convincing treatment of the grief process is often singled out as a trait not usually present in films featuring supernatural plot elements.

As well as the unusual handling of its subject matter, Don’t Look Now is renowned for its atypical but innovative editing style, and its use of recurring motifs and themes. The film often employs flashbacks and flashforwards in keeping with the depiction of precognition, but some scenes are intercut or merged to alter the viewer’s perception of what is really happening. It also adopts an impressionist approach to its imagery, often presaging events with familiar objects, patterns and colours using an associative editing technique, turning them into portents.

Originally causing controversy on its intitial release due to an explicit and—for the time—very graphic sex scene between Christie and Sutherland, its reputation has grown considerably in the years since, and it is now acknowledged as a modern classic and an influential work in horror and British film.

 

Plot

Some time after the drowning of their young daughter, Christine (Sharon Williams), in a tragic accident at their English country home, John Baxter (Donald Sutherland) and his wife, Laura (Julie Christie), are staying in Venice where John has been contracted by a bishop (Massimo Serato) to restore an ancient church. Laura encounters two elderly sisters at a restaurant where she and John are dining, one of whom is blind and claims to be psychic and in contact with the Baxters’ deceased daughter. The blind sister, Heather (Hilary Mason), tells Laura she can see Christine and describes the attire she was wearing at the time of the accident, and that Christine is happy. Shaken, Laura returns to her table, where she faints.

Laura is taken to hospital, where she later tells John what the sisters told her. John is sceptical but pleasantly surprised by the positive change in Laura’s demeanour. Later in the evening after returning from the hospital, John and Laura engage in passionate sexual intercourse. Afterwards, they go out to dinner where they get lost and briefly become separated. John catches a glimpse of what looks like a small child (Adelina Poerio) wearing a red coat similar to the one Christine was wearing when she died.

The next day, Laura meets with the sisters, who hold a séance to try to contact Christine. She returns to the hotel and tells John that Christine has said he is in danger and must leave Venice. John loses his temper with Laura, but that night they receive a telephone call informing them that their son (Nicholas Salter) has been injured in an accident. Laura departs for England, while John stays on to complete the restoration. Under the assumption that Laura is in England, John is shocked when later that day he spots her on a barge that is part of a funeral cortege, accompanied by the two sisters. Concerned about his wife’s mental state and with reports of a serial killer at large in Venice, he reports Laura’s disappearance to the police. The inspector (Renato Scarpa) investigating the killings is suspicious of John and has him followed.

After conducting a futile search for Laura and the sisters—in which he again sees the child-like figure in the red coat—John contacts his son’s boarding school to enquire about his condition, only to discover Laura is already at the school. After speaking to her to confirm she really is in England, a bewildered John returns to the police station to inform the police he has found his wife. In the meantime the police have found the sisters and brought them in for questioning, so an apologetic John offers to escort Heather back to her hotel to rejoin her sister, Wendy (Clelia Matania).

On returning to the hotel, Heather goes into a trance as John is leaving. On his way out, John catches another glimpse of the mysterious figure in red, and this time pursues it. Coming out of her trance, Heather beseeches her sister to go after John, sensing that something terrible is about to happen to him, but she is unable to catch up with him. Meanwhile, John has followed the elusive figure to a deserted palazzo, and having cornered it, realises too late that the strange sightings he has been experiencing were premonitions of a grisly end.

 

Themes

Don’t Look Now ostensibly is an occult thriller,[1] but the genre conventions of the Gothic ghost story primarily serve to explore the minds of a grief-stricken couple.[2] The film’s director, Nicolas Roeg, was intrigued by the idea of making ‘grief into the sole thrust of the film’: “Grief can separate people…Even the closest, healthiest relationship can come undone through grief”.[3] The presence of Christine, the Baxters’ deceased daughter, weighs heavily on the mood of the film, as she and the nature of her death are constantly recalled through the film’s imagery: there are regular flashbacks to Christine playing in her red coat as well as the sightings of the mysterious child-like figure also wearing a red coat which bears a likeness to her; the constant association of water with death is maintained via a serial-killer sub-plot, which sees victims periodically dragged from the canals; there is also a poignant moment when John fishes a child’s doll out of a canal just as he did with his daughter’s body at the beginning of the film.[4]

 

Water and the colour red are recurring motifs.

 

The associative use of recurring motifs foreshadows key events in the film, often utilised in an impressionist style, combined with unorthodox editing techniques.[5] In Daphne du Maurier’s novella it is Laura that wears a red coat, but in the film the colour is used to establish an association between Christine and the elusive child-like figure that John keeps catching glimpses of.[6][7] Du Maurier’s short story actually opens in Venice following Christine’s death from meningitis, but the decision was taken to change the cause of death to drowning and to include a prologue to exploit the water motif.[8] The threat of death from falling is also ever present throughout the film: besides Christine falling into the lake, Laura is taken to hospital after her fall in the restaurant, their son Johnny is injured in a fall at boarding school, the bishop overseeing the church restoration informs John that his father was killed in a fall, and John himself is nearly killed in a fall during the renovations.[9] Glass is frequently used as an omen that something bad is about to occur: just before Christine drowns, John knocks a glass of water over, and their son, Johnny, breaks a pane of glass; as Laura faints in the restaurant she knocks glassware off the table, and when John almost falls to his death in the church, a plank of wood shatters a pane of glass; finally, shortly before confronting the mysterious red clad figure, John asks the sisters for a glass of water, a piece of symbolism that prefigured Christine’s death.[5]

The plot of the film is preoccupied with misinterpretation and mistaken identity: when John sees Laura on the barge with the sisters, he fails to realise it is a premonition and believes Laura is in Venice with them.[10] John himself is mistaken for a Peeping Tom when he follows Laura to the séance,[11] and ultimately he mistakes the mysterious red-coated figure for a child. The concept of doppelgängers and duplicates feature prominently in the film: reproductions are a constantly recurring motif ranging from reflections in the water, to photographs, to police sketches and the photographic slides of the church John is restoring. Laura comments in a letter to their son that she can’t tell the difference between the restored church windows and the “real thing”, and later in the film John attempts to make a seamless match between recently manufactured tiles and the old ones in repairing an ancient mosaic.[5] Roeg describes the basic premise of the story as principally being that in life “nothing is what it seems”,[3] and even decided to have Donald Sutherland’s character utter the line—a scene which required fifteen takes.[12]

Communication is a theme that runs through much of Nicolas Roeg’s work, and figures heavily in Don’t Look Now.[13] This is best exemplified by the blind psychic woman, Heather, who communicates with the dead, but it is presented in other ways: the language barriers are purposefully enhanced by the decision to not include subtitles translating the Italian dialogue into English, so the viewer experiences the same confusion as John.[14] Women are presented as better at communicating than men: besides the psychic being female, it is Laura who stays in regular contact with their son, Johnny;[15] when the Baxters receive a phone call informing them of Johnny’s accident at the boarding school, the headmaster’s inarticulateness in explaining the situation causes his wife to intercept and explain instead.[9] The bishop (who has commissioned John to undertake the restoration), also somewhat cryptically comments that “we have stopped listening to God”.[16]

Much has been made of the fragmented editing of Don’t Look Now, and Nicolas Roeg’s work in general. Time is presented as “fluid”, where the past, present and future can all exist in the same timeframe.[8] John’s premonitions merge with the present, such as at the start of the film where the mysterious red-coated figure is seemingly depicted in one of his photographic slides, and when he “sees” Laura on the funeral barge with the sisters and mistakenly believes he is seeing the present, but in fact it is a vision of the future.[10] The most famous use of this fragmented approach to time is during the love scene, in which the scenes of John and Laura having sex are intercut with scenes of them dressing afterwards to go out to dinner.[2][6] After John is attacked by his assailant in the climactic moments, the preceding events depicted during the course of the film are recalled through flashback, which may be perceived as his life flashing before his eyes.[17] At a narrative level the plot of Don’t Look Now can be regarded as a self-fulfilling prophecy: it is John’s premonitions of his death that set in motion the events leading up to his death.[10] According to the editor of the film, Graeme Clifford, Nicolas Roeg regarded the film as his “exercise in film grammar”.[18]

 

Inspirations

Don’t Look Now is particularly indebted to Alfred Hitchcock, exhibiting several characteristics of the director’s work. The jump cut following Christine’s death from Laura’s scream to the screech of a drill references a cut in The 39 Steps, when a woman’s scream cuts to the whistle of a steam train.[19] When John reports Laura’s disappearance to the Italian police he inadvertently becomes a suspect in the murder case they are investigating—an innocent man being wrongly accused and pursued by the authorities is a common Hitchcock trait.[20] The film also takes a Hitchcockian approach to its protagonist’s psychology by manifesting it in plot developments: John repeatedly becomes separated from Laura and is looking for her, first in the maze of alleyways in Venice when going out to dinner, then when he follows her to the séance but goes to the wrong room, and when he thinks he sees her with the sisters on the barge; psychologically, John really became separated from his wife when Christine drowned and has been looking for her ever since.[14]

Nicolas Roeg had employed the fractured editing style of Don’t Look Now on his previous films, Performance and Walkabout, but it was originated by editor Antony Gibbs on Petulia. Roeg served as the cinematographer on Petulia, which incidentally also starred Julie Christie, and Gibbs went on to edit Performance and Walkabout for Roeg.[21] Roeg’s use of colour—especially red—can be traced back to earlier work: both Performance and Walkabout feature scenes where the whole screen turns red, similar in nature to the scene during Christine’s drowning when the spilt water on the church slide causes a reaction that makes it—along with the whole screen—turn completely red.[22] The mysterious red-coated figure and its association with death has a direct parallel with an earlier film Roeg worked on as cinematographer, The Masque of the Red Death, which depicted a red clad Grim Reaper character.[21] The fleeting glimpses of the mysterious red-coated figure possibly draw on Proust: in Remembrance Of Things Past, while in Venice the narrator catches sight of a red gown in the distance, which brings pack painful memories of his lost love.[6]

Besides Proust, other possible literary influences include Borges and Nietzsche; Pauline Kael in her review comments that “Roeg comes closer to getting Borges on the screen than those who have tried it directly”,[23] while Mark Sanderson in his BFI Modern Classics essay on the film, finds parallels with Nietzsche’s Beyond Good and Evil. [10]

 

Production

Don’t Look Now was produced by Peter Katz through London based Casey Productions and Rome based Eldorado Films, and was independently financed.[24] The script based on the short story by Daphne du Maurier was offered to Nicolas Roeg by scriptwriter Allan Scott, who had co-written the screenplay with Chris Bryant.[25] Julie Christie and Donald Sutherland were cast in the principal roles and filming took place in England and Italy, starting in December 1972 and finishing in early 1973.[26]

Development and pre-production

Julie Christie attended a séance as part of her preparation for the role of Laura.

 

Don’t Look Now was to be Nicolas Roeg’s third directorial feature following Performance and Walkabout. Although real-life couple Natalie Wood and Robert Wagner were suggested for the parts of Laura and John Baxter, Roeg was eager to cast Julie Christie and Donald Sutherland from the very start. Initially engaged by other projects both actors unexpectedly became available. Christie liked the script and was keen to work with Roeg who had served as cinematographer on Fahrenheit 451, Far from the Madding Crowd and Petulia in which she had starred. Sutherland also wanted to make the film but had some reservations in regards to the depiction of clairvoyance in the script. He felt it was handled too negatively and believed that Don’t Look Now should be a more “educative film”, and that the “characters should in some way benefit from ESP and not be destroyed by it”. Roeg was resistant to any changes and issued Sutherland with an ultimatum.[26]

Roeg wanted Julie Christie to attend a séance prior to filming. Leslie Flint, a direct voice medium based in Notting Hill, invited them to attend a session which he was holding for some American parapsychologists, who were coming over to observe him. Roeg and Christie went along and sat in a circle in the pitch dark and joined hands. Flint instructed his guests to “uncross” their legs, which Roeg subsequently incorporated into the film.[12]

Adelina Poerio was cast as the fleeting red-coated figure after Roeg saw her photo at a casting session in Rome. Standing at only 4’2″ tall, she had a career as a singer.[25] Renato Scarpa was cast as Inspector Longhi, despite not being able to speak English and had no idea what he was saying in the film.[27]

 

Filming

Filming began in England in December 1972, breaking off for Christmas, and resuming in January 1973 for seven more weeks in Italy.[26]

Shooting the drowning sequence was particularly problematic: Sharon Williams, who played Christine, became hysterical when submersed in the pond, despite the rehearsals at the swimming pool going well. A farmer on the neighbouring land volunteered his daughter who was an accomplished swimmer, but refused to be submersed when it came to filming. In the end, the scene was filmed in a water tank using three girls.[25] Nicolas Roeg and editor Graeme Clifford showed the opening sequence to some friends before filming resumed on the Venice segment, and Clifford recalls it making a considerable impression.[18]

The Venice locations included the Europa Hotel—although the Baxters’ suite was located at the Bauer Grunwald (which better accommodated the cameras)—and the Santo Nicolo dei Mendici, a church on the outskirts of Venice. Finding an appropriate church proved difficult: after visiting most of the churches in Venice, the Italian location manager suggested constructing one in a warehouse. The discovery of the Santo Nicolo dei Mendici was particularly fortuitous since it was currently being renovated and the scaffolding was already in place, the circumstances lending themselves well to the plot of the film. Roeg decided not to use traditional tourist locations to purposefully avoid a “travel documentary” look. Venice turned out to be a difficult place to film in, mainly due to the tides which caused problems with the continuity and transporting equipment.[28]

The scene set in the church where Laura lights a candle for Christine was mostly improvised. Originally intended to show the gulf between John and Laura’s mental states—John’s denial and Laura’s inability to let go—the script included two pages of dialogue to illustrate John’s unease at Laura’s marked display of grief. After a break in filming to allow the crew to set up the equipment, Donald Sutherland returned to the set and commented that he didn’t like the church, to which Julie Christie retorted that he was being “silly”, and the church was “beautiful”. Roeg felt that the exchange was more true to life in terms of what the characters would actually say to each other, and that the scripted version was “overwritten”, so opted to ditch the scripted dialogue and included the real-life exchange instead.[12]

During the scene when John almost falls to his death while restoring the mosaic in St Nicholas’s church and ends up dangling by a rope, Donald Sutherland’s life was actually put in danger. The stuntman refused to film the scene because the insurance wasn’t in order, so Sutherland ended up performing the stunt instead. Sutherland was attached to a kirby wire hidden from view—as a safety measure—in case he should fall. Stunt co-ordinator, Vic Armstrong, after viewing the scene some time later, informed Sutherland that the wire was not designed for that purpose, and the spinning around would have damaged the wire to the extent it would have snapped if Sutherland had let go of the rope.[29]

Prior to filming the funeral scene at the end of the film, Roeg suggested to Julie Christie that she should smile during the scene. Christie was initially sceptical, but Roeg felt it wouldn’t make sense for the character to be heartbroken if she believed her husband and daughter were together in the afterlife.[18]

 

Scoring
The score was written by Pino Donaggio, a native Venetian who was a popular singer at the time (he had a hit with lo Che Non Vivo which was covered by Dusty Springfield in 1966 as You Don’t Have to Say You Love Me); prior to Don’t Look Now, Donaggio had never scored a film. Ugo Mariotti, a producer on the film, spotted Donaggio on a Vaporetto on the Grand Canal, and believing it to be a “sign” contacted him to see if he would be interested in working on the film. Donaggio was sceptical at first because he didn’t understand why they would be interested in someone who had no experience of scoring films.

Donaggio had no interest in making soundtracks for films at the time, but was introduced to Nicolas Roeg who decided to try him out and asked him to write something for the beginning of the film. Roeg was enthusiastic about the result but the London based producers were resistant to hiring someone who had no background in films. The film’s financiers were pleased with Donaggio’s work and overruled the producers. As well as composing the score, Donaggio performed a substantial portion of it himself. The piano pieces were performed by Donaggio, despite the fact that he was not very accomplished at playing the piano. The piano pieces are usually associated with Christine in the film, and Roeg wanted the pieces to have an innocent sound reminiscent of a little girl learning to play the piano. Donaggio claims that since he was not very good at playing the piano, the pieces had an unsure style to them, perfect for the effect they were trying to capture.

The only disagreement over the musical direction of the film was for the score accompanying the love scene. Donaggio composed a grand orchestral piece, but Roeg thought the effect was overkill, and wanted it toned down. In the end the scene just used a combination of the piano, the flute, an acoustic guitar and an acoustic bass guitar. The piano was played by Donaggio again, who also played the flute; in contrast to his skill as a pianist, Donaggio was a renowned flautist, famous for it at the conservatory. Donaggio conceded that the more low-key theme worked better in the sequence and ditched the high strings orchestral piece, reworking it for the funeral scene at the end of the film.

Donaggio won a “best soundtrack of the year” award for his work on the film, which gave him the confidence to quit his successful singing career and embark on a career scoring films. Donaggio became a regular composer for Brian De Palma films and credits Nicolas Roeg with giving him his first lesson in writing film scores, and expressed a desire to work with him again.[30]

 

The love scene controversy

Don’t Look Now has become famous for a sex scene involving Julie Christie and Donald Sutherland, which caused considerable controversy prior to its release in 1973. British tabloid, the Daily Mail, observed at the time “one of the frankest love scenes ever to be filmed is likely to plunge lovely Julie Christie into the biggest censorship row since Last Tango in Paris“. The scene was unusually graphic for the period, including a rare portrayal of cunnilingus in a mainstream film.[2]

Christie commented that “People didn’t do scenes like that in those days”, and that she found the scenes difficult to film: “There were no available examples, no role models…I just went blank and Nic [Roeg] shouted instructions”. The scene caused problems with censors on both sides of the Atlantic. The American censor advised Nicolas Roeg explicitly that “We cannot see humping. We cannot see the rise and fall between thighs”. The scene’s much celebrated fragmented style, in which scenes of the couple having sexual intercourse are intercut with scenes of the couple post-coitally getting dressed to go out to dinner, partly came about through Roeg’s attempt to accommodate the concerns of the censors: “They scrutinised it and found absolutely nothing they could object to. If someone goes up, you cut and the next time you see them they’re in a different position, you obviously fill in the gaps for yourself. But, technically speaking, there was no ‘humping’ in that scene.” In the end, Roeg only cut nine frames from the sequence, and the film was awarded an ‘R rating’ in the United States. In Britain, the British Board of Film Classification judged the uncut version to be “tasteful and integral to the plot”, and a scene in which Donald Sutherland’s character performing oral sex on Christie’s character is clearly visible was permitted, but it was still given an ‘X rating’—an adults only certificate usually reserved for pornographic films.[2][31]

The scene remained controversial for some years after its release, with the BBC cutting the scene completely when they premiered it on television, causing a flood of complaints from viewers.[12][32] The intimacy of the scene led to rumours that Christie and Sutherland had unsimulated sex which have persisted for years, and that outtakes from the scene were doing the rounds in screening rooms.[33][34][35] Producer Michael Deeley claimed on BBC Radio 4’s Desert Island Discs that Warren Beatty had flown to London and demanded that the sex scene—featuring then girlfriend Julie Christie—be cut from the film.[36] The rumours were seemingly confirmed in 2011 by former Variety editor Peter Bart, who was a Paramount executive at the time. In his book, Infamous Players: A Tale of Movies, the Mob, (and Sex), Bart says he was on set on the day the scene was filmed and could clearly see Sutherland’s penis moving in and out of Christie.[37] Sutherland subsequently issued a statement through his publicist, Catherine Olim, at PMK*BNC stating that the claims were not true, and that Bart did not witness the scene being filmed. Peter Katz, the film’s producer, corroborated Sutherland’s account that the sex was not authentic.[38] The scene was in fact an unscripted last minute improvisation by Roeg, who felt that without it there would be too many scenes of the couple arguing.[3]

 

Theatrical releases

Don’t Look Now—marketed as a “psychic thriller”[39]—received its world premiere in Britain on 16 October 1973, as the top half of a double bill.[24] The Wicker Man was its accompanying ‘B’ feature and—like Don’t Look Now—also went on to achieve great acclaim.[8] The two films have thematic similarities, and both end with the films’ protagonists being led to their preordained fates by a red clad ‘child’ they believe to be helping.[1]

Don’t Look Now was chosen by the British Film Institute in 2000 as one of eight classic films from those that had begun to deteriorate to undergo restoration.[40] On completion of the restoration in 2001, the film was given another theatrical release.[41]

 

Home media

Don’t Look Now has had several home video releases, on both VHS and DVD formats. Optimum Releasing released a special edition DVD in the UK, in 2006. The DVD included an introduction by Alan Jones, an audio commentary by director Nicolas Roeg, an interview with the composer of the score, Pino Donaggio, and a documentary featurette about the making of the film.[42]

 

Critical response and awards

At the time of its initial release, Don’t Look Now was generally well received by critics,[34] although some criticised it for being “arty and mechanical”.[33] Jay Cocks for Time, wrote that “Don’t Look Now is such a rich, complex and subtle experience that it demands more than one viewing”,[43] while Variety commented that the film’s visual flourishes made it “much more than merely a well-made psycho-horror thriller”.[44] Pauline Kael writing for The New Yorker was more reserved in her praise, considering the film to be “the fanciest, most carefully assembled enigma yet put on the screen” but that there was a “distasteful clamminess about the picture”,[23] while Gordon Gow of Films and Filming felt that it fell short of the aspirations of Nicolas Roeg’s previous two films, Performance and Walkabout, but it was nevertheless a thriller of some depth.[2] Vincent Canby, reviewer for The New York Times, on the otherhand, criticised the film for a lack of suspense which he put down to a twist that comes halfway through rather than at the end, and at which point it “stops being suspenseful and becomes an elegant travelogue that treats us to second-sightseeing in Venice”. Canby also suggested that second sight was not convincing on screen, since it appeared simply like flash-forward which is a standard story-telling device in films, and concluded that “Not only do you probably have better things to do, but so, I’m sure, do most of the people connected with the film.”[45]

British critics were especially enthusiastic about Nicolas Roeg’s direction. In the view of Tom Milne of Monthly Film Bulletin, Roeg’s combined work on Performance, Walkabout and Don’t Look Now put him “right up at the top as film-maker”.[2] George Melly similarly wrote in The Observer that Roeg had joined “that handful of names whose appearance at the end of the credit titles automatically creates a sense of anticipation”.[1] Penelope Houston for Sight & Sound also found much to appreciate in Roeg’s direction: “Roeg deploys subtle powers of direction and Hitchcockian misdirection”.[2] American critics were similarly impressed with Roeg’s work on the film. Jay Cocks regarded Don’t Look Now to be Roeg’s best work by far and that Roeg was one of “those rare talents that can effect a new way of seeing”. Cocks also felt that the film was a marked improvement on the short story by Daphne du Maurier, noting that a reading “makes one appreciate Roeg and Screenwriters [Allan] Scott and [Chris] Bryant all the more. Film and story share certain basic elements of plot and an ending of cruel surprise. The story is detached, almost cursory. Roeg and his collaborators have constructed an intricate, intense speculation about levels of perception and reality.”[43] Roger Ebert in his review for the Chicago Sun-Times commented that Roeg is “a genius at filling his frame with threatening forms and compositions”,[39] while Pauline Kael labelled him “chillingly chic” in hers.[23] Even Vincent Canby, whose opinion of the film was negative overall, praised Roeg for being able to “maintain a sense of menace long after the screenplay has any right to expect it.”[45]

Julie Christie and Donald Sutherland also received praise for their performances. Variety considered Sutherland to be at his most subdued but also at his most effective, while Christie does her “best work in ages”.[44] Cocks felt that thanks to their superb performances the film had a “rigorous psychological truth and an emotional timbre” that most other films in the supernatural genre lacked.[43] Canby considered the “sincerity of the actors” to be one of the better aspects of the film,[45] while Kael found Christie especially suited to the part, observing she has the “anxious face of a modern tragic muse.”[46]

The use of Venice locations was highly praised.

 

Roeg’s use of Venice was also praised, with Roger Ebert finding that he “uses Venice as well as she’s ever been used in a movie”,[39] and Canby also noted Venice is used to great effect: “He gets a great performance from Venice, which is all wintery grays [sic], blues and blacks, the color of the pigeons that are always underfoot.”[45] Variety also found much to admire about the editing, writing that it is “careful and painstaking (the classically brilliant and erotic love-making scene is merely one of several examples) and plays a vital role in setting the film’s mood.”[44]

Daphne du Maurier was pleased with the adaptation of her short story, and wrote to Nicolas Roeg to congratulate him for capturing the essence of John and Laura’s relationship.[19] The film wasn’t received well by Venetians, particularly the councillors who were afraid it would scare away tourists.[30]

Don’t Look Now was nominated in the Best Film, Direction, Actor, Actress, Sound Track, Cinematography and Film Editing categories at the 27th British Academy Film Awards, with Anthony B. Richmond winning for Best Cinematography.[47][48] It was also nominated in the Best Motion Picture category at the 1974 Edgar Allan Poe Awards.[49]

 

Modern critical opinion

The reputation of Don’t Look Now has grown since its release and it is now regarded as a key work in horror cinema.[8] It has led to some critics re-evaluating their original opinions of it: Roger Ebert, nearly thirty years after his original review, states that he has come to an “accommodation” with his reservations about what he terms the “admitted weakness of the denouement”. Having gone through the film shot by shot, he now considers it a “masterpiece of physical filmmaking, in the way the photography evokes mood and the editing underlines it with uncertainty.”[50]

Don’t Look Now is now considered a classic British film, and when the British Film Institute in 1999 polled 1000 people who work across the film and television industry, the film was ranked eighth on their list of top 100 British films of the 20th century.[51] A similar list organised by Time Out London in 2011, in which 150 film industry professionals were polled, saw Don’t Look Now ranked in first place.[52] When submitting his list for Sight & Sound’s traditional decennial ‘greatest films’ poll in 2002, British TV and radio critic, Mark Kermode, had Don’t Look Now in fifth place,[53] and on Rotten Tomatoes—a review aggregator website—Don’t Look Now has a 95% ‘fresh’ rating.[54]

 

Influence

Don’t Look Now has been much admired by and an influence on subsequent filmmakers.[55] Danny Boyle, director of Slumdog Millionaire and Trainspotting, cites Nicolas Roeg as a key influence on his work and counts Don’t Look Now among his favourite films.[56][57] Alfonso Cuarón, director of Children of Men and Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, had Don’t Look Now on the list of top ten British films he compiled for the Time Out British films poll.[58] Mark Gatiss, Steve Pemberton and Reece Shearsmith drew upon Don’t Look Now considerably for their television series, The League of Gentlemen; Pemberton ranks Don’t Look Now among the top three British horror films of the sixties and seventies, and says that he wants things he’s written to make audiences feel the way he felt when he watched the The Wicker Man and Don’t Look Now.[59][60][61]

The imagery of Don’t Look Now has been directly referenced in several works. The 2006 James Bond film, Casino Royale contains a small homage where James Bond pursues a female character through Venice, catching glimpses of her through the crowds wearing a red dress.[62] The Bruges set thriller, In Bruges, starring Colin Farrell, includes a number of explicit references;[63] director Martin McDonagh said that the “Venice of Don’t Look Now” was the template for the depiction of Bruges in his film,[64] and the film includes numerous thematic similarities, including one character stating that the film she is working on is a “pastiche of Don’t Look Now.” Flatliners, a 1990 supernatural thriller directed by Joel Schumacher, also draws explicitly on the red-coated child-like figure by having a character terrorised by a child wearing a red coat.[65] Coincidentally, the character who is being tormented is played by Kiefer Sutherland, Donald Sutherland’s son. In the 2007 stage play of Don’t Look Now, written by Nell Leyshon and directed by Lucy Bailey, the play consciously bypassed the film and was a faithful adaptation of du Maurier’s short story, but the play did however retain the iconic red mac for the mysterious childlike figure’s attire from the film.[66][67]

The influence of Don’t Look Now is less obvious but still apparent in Out of Sight, a 1998 film directed by Steven Soderbergh. The famous intercutting technique used in the sex scene was used to similar effect in a sex scene featuring George Clooney and Jennifer Lopez.[68] The film’s imagery and stylistic techniques have served as an inspiration to films such as Schindler’s List directed by Steven Spielberg,[69] The Brood by David Cronenberg,[70] Memento by Christopher Nolan,[71] and The Dark starring Maria Bello and Sean Bean.[72]

Nicolas Roeg has never been slow to draw upon the world of pop music for his work, casting Mick Jagger in Performance, David Bowie in The Man Who Fell to Earth and Art Garfunkel in Bad Timing, and in turn his films have served as inspiration for musicians. Big Audio Dynamite wrote a tribute song to Roeg, called E=MC2, which included lyrical references to Don’t Look Now—among Roeg’s other films—along with clips from it in the video, directed by Roeg’s son, Luc,[73] while Sophie Ellis-Bextor performed a “pop synth homage” to Don’t Look Now with her song, Catch You.[74]

References

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  2.  a b c d e f g Sanderson 1996, pp. 21–23.
  3.  a b c O’Hagan, Sean (9 April 2006). “The sexual power and terror that produced a classic”. guardian.co.uk (The Observer). http://www.guardian.co.uk/film/2006/apr/09/features.review. Retrieved 13 February 2011.
  4.  Sanderson 1996, pp. 30, 45 & 59.
  5.  a b c Sanderson 1996, pp. 42–44.
  6.  a b c Bradshaw, Peter (18 January 2011). “Don’t Look Now and Roeg’s red coat”. guardian.co.uk (The Guardian). http://www.guardian.co.uk/film/2011/jan/18/dont-look-now-red-coat. Retrieved 18 February 2011.
  7.  Sanderson 1996, pp. 10–11, 60.
  8.  a b c d Jones, Alan. (2006). Don’t Look Now: An Introduction by Alan Jones.  In: Don’t Look Now 2006.
  9.  a b Sanderson 1996, p. 48.
  10.  a b c d Sanderson 1996, pp. 61–62.
  11.  Sanderson 1996, p. 16.
  12.  a b c d Sanderson 1996, p. 76–78.
  13.  Sanderson 1996, p. 12.
  14.  a b Sanderson 1996, pp. 25–27.
  15.  Sanderson 1996, p. 47.
  16.  Sanderson 1996, p. 51.
  17.  Sanderson 1996, pp. 64–70.
  18.  a b c Gregory, David. (2002). Don’t Look Now: Looking Back.  In: Don’t Look Now 2006.
  19.  a b Sanderson 1996, pp. 14–15.
  20.  Sanderson 1996, p. 30.
  21.  a b Sinyard, Neil. “Roeg, Nicolas (1928-)”. Screenonline. British Film Institute. http://www.screenonline.org.uk/people/id/456125/. Retrieved 17 March 2011.
  22.  Sanderson 1996, pp. 31–32.
  23.  a b c Kael, Pauline (1973). “Excerpt from Don’t Look Now review”. movie-film-review.com. http://www.movie-film-review.com/devfilm.asp?rtype=2&id=3764. Retrieved 21 February 2011.
  24.  a b Sanderson 1996, p. 81.
  25.  a b c Sanderson 1996, pp. 74–75.
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  27.  Sanderson 1996, p. 49.
  28.  Sanderson 1996, pp. 19, 71–73.
  29.  ”Donald Sutherland“. Mark Cousins. Scene by Scene. BBC. BBC Two. 11.20pm, 22 March 2001. 15 minutes in.
  30.  a b Gregory, David. (2006). Death in Venice.  In: Don’t Look Now 2006.
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  32.  Roeg, Nicolas (3 February 2008). “Sex had to be on the menu”. guardian.co.uk (The Observer). http://www.guardian.co.uk/film/2008/feb/03/observerfilmmagazine.observerfilmmagazine18?INTCMP=ILCNETTXT3487. Retrieved 21 February 2011.
  33.  a b Guthmann, Edward (1 January 1999). “Labyrinthine `Look’ Is Back – Roeg’s ’73 thriller reprised at Castro”. sfgate.com (San Francisco Chronicle). http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/1999/01/01/DD81890.DTL. Retrieved 21 February 2011.
  34.  a b Billson, Anne (22 October 2010). “Don’t Look Now: No 3 best horror film of all time”. guardian.co.uk (The Guardian). http://www.guardian.co.uk/film/2010/oct/22/dont-look-now-roeg-horror. Retrieved 21 February 2011.
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  36.  Clinton, Jane (14 December 2008). “Day Beatty tried to ban sex scene….”. express.co.uk (Daily Express). http://www.express.co.uk/posts/view/75624/. Retrieved 21 February 2011.
  37.  Fernandez, Jay A. (22 March 2011). “Forthcoming Peter Bart Book Answers Long-Simmering Question About Julie Christie Sex Scene”. hollywoodreporter.com (The Hollywood Reporter). http://www.hollywoodreporter.com/risky-business/forthcoming-peter-bart-book-answers-170025. Retrieved 23 March 2011.
  38.  Fernandez, Jay A. (24 March 2011). “Donald Sutherland Unequivocally Denies ‘Don’t Look Now’ Sex (Again)”. hollywoodreporter.com (The Hollywood Reporter). http://www.hollywoodreporter.com/risky-business/donald-sutherland-unequivocally-denies-dont-171235. Retrieved 25 March 2011.
  39.  a b c Ebert, Roger (20 December 1973). “Don’t Look Now”. rogerebert.com (Chicago Sun-Times). http://rogerebert.suntimes.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/19731220/REVIEWS/312200301/1023. Retrieved 20 February 2011.
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  42.  “Don’t Look Now (Special Edition)”. optimumreleasing.com. Optimum Releasing. 2010. http://www.optimumreleasing.com/dvd.php?id=322. Retrieved 20 February 2011.
  43.  a b c Cocks, Jay (10 December 1973). “Cinema: Second Sight”. time.com (Time). http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,908304-1,00.html. Retrieved 21 February 2011.
  44.  a b c Variety staff (31 December 1973). “Don’t Look Now”. variety.com (Variety). http://www.variety.com/review/VE1117790513?refcatid=31. Retrieved 21 February 2011.
  45.  a b c d Canby, Vincent (10 December 1973). “Don’t Look Now (1973) – Film:’Don’t Look Now,’ a Horror Tale:Donald Sutherland and Julie Christie in Leads The Cast Suspense Yarn Turns Into a Travelogue”. nytimes.com (The New York Times). http://movies.nytimes.com/movie/review?res=9E0DEFD61239E73ABC4852DFB4678388669EDE. Retrieved 21 February 2011.
  46.  Addiego, Walter (6 February 1998). “Basking in Christie’s afterglow”. sfgate.com (San Francisco Chronicle). http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/e/a/1998/02/06/WEEKEND2683.dtl. Retrieved 21 February 2011.
  47.  “Awards Database: Film – 1973 (page 1)”. bafta.org. British Academy of Film and Television Arts. http://www.bafta.org/awards-database.html?category=Film&year=1973. Retrieved 21 February 2011.
  48.  “Awards Database: Film – 1973 (page 2)”. bafta.org. British Academy of Film and Television Arts. http://www.bafta.org/awards-database.html?category=Film&pageNo=2&year=1973. Retrieved 21 February 2011.
  49.  “Edgars Database (Title search: Don’t Look Now)”. TheEdgars.com. Mystery Writers of America. http://theedgars.com/edgarsDB/index.php. Retrieved 21 February 2011.
  50.  Ebert, Roger (13 October 2002). “Don’t Look Now (1974)”. rogerebert.com (Chicago Sun-Times). http://rogerebert.suntimes.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20021013/REVIEWS08/210130301/1023. Retrieved 22 February 2011.
  51.  “The BFI 100 – A selection of the favourite British films of the 20th century”. bfi.org.uk. British Film Institute. 1999. http://www.bfi.org.uk/features/bfi100/. Retrieved 22 February 2011.
  52.  “100 best British films: the full list”. timeout.com (Time Out London). 9 February 2011. http://www.timeout.com/london/feature/886/100-best-british-films-the-full-list. Retrieved 22 February 2011.
  53.  Kermode, Mark (2002). “Sight and Sound Top Ten Poll 2002 – Mark Kermode”. bfi.org.uk. British Film Institute. http://www.bfi.org.uk/sightandsound/topten/poll/voter.php?forename=Mark&surname=Kermode. Retrieved 22 February 2011.
  54.  “Don’t Look Now (1973)”. Rotten Tomatoes. Flixster. http://www.rottentomatoes.com/m/dont_look_now/. Retrieved 22 February 2011.
  55.  “Don’t Look Now”. bfi.org.uk. British Film Institute. http://www.bfi.org.uk/whatson/bfi_southbank/film_programme/march_seasons/nicolas_roeg/dont_look_now. Retrieved 24 February 2011.
  56.  Jones, Alice (7 May 2009). “Film favourites: Politicians to pop stars reveal the movies that changed their life”. independent.co.uk (The Independent). http://www.independent.co.uk/arts-entertainment/films/features/film-favourites-politicians-to-pop-stars-reveal-the-movies-that-changed-their-life-1680314.html. Retrieved 24 February 2011.
  57.  “The Danny Boyle Webchat Transcript”. empireonline.com (Empire). 5 April 2007. http://www.empireonline.com/features/dannyboylewebchat/. Retrieved 22 February 2011.
  58.  “The 100 best British films: directors”. timeout.com (Time Out London). 9 February 2011. http://www.timeout.com/london/feature/842/100bbf-contributors-directors. Retrieved 22 February 2011.
  59.  Walsh, John (29 September 2005). “The League of Gentlemen: A league of their own”. independent.co.uk (The Independent). http://www.independent.co.uk/arts-entertainment/theatre-dance/features/the-league-of-gentlemen-a-league-of-their-own-508875.html. Retrieved 24 February 2011.
  60.  McLean, Gareth (10 February 2001). “Odd men out”. guardian.co.uk (The Guardian). http://www.guardian.co.uk/theguardian/2001/feb/10/weekend7.weekend1. Retrieved 24 February 2011.
  61.  Cavendish, Dominic (27 May 2005). “Stepping into the big League”. telegraph.co.uk (The Telegraph). http://www.telegraph.co.uk/culture/film/3642699/Stepping-into-the-big-League.html. Retrieved 24 February 2011.
  62.  “”Casino Royale” production notes” (PDF). sonypictures.co.uk. Sony Pictures Entertainment. 2006. p. 16. http://www.sonypictures.co.uk/movies/casinoroyale/site/pdf/news/CASINOROYALE_PROD_NOTES.pdf. Retrieved 24 February 2011.
  63.  Horne, Philip (26 August 2008). “See Naples and die. Literally”. guardian.co.uk (The Guardian). http://www.guardian.co.uk/film/2008/aug/26/inbruges.holidaysonfilm. Retrieved 24 February 2011.
  64.  Hammond, Wally (2008). “Martin McDonagh on ‘In Bruges’”. timeout.com (Time Out London). http://www.timeout.com/film/features/show-feature/4632/. Retrieved 24 February 2011.
  65.  James, Caryn (10 August 1990). “Flatliners (1990) Review/Film; Young Doctors Explore the Boundary Between Life and Death”. nytimes.com (The New York Times). http://movies.nytimes.com/movie/review?res=9C0CE6D91F39F933A2575BC0A966958260. Retrieved 24 February 2011.
  66.  Walker, Lynne (2 March 2007). “Don’t Look Now, Lyceum, Sheffield”. independent.co.uk (The Independent). http://www.independent.co.uk/arts-entertainment/theatre-dance/reviews/dont-look-now-lyceum-sheffield–none-onestar-twostar-fourstar-fivestar-438544.html. Retrieved 28 March 2011.
  67.  Cavendish, Dominic (16 March 2007). “Haunted by a spirit from the past”. telegraph.co.uk (The Telegraph). http://www.telegraph.co.uk/culture/theatre/drama/3663803/Haunted-by-a-spirit-from-the-past.html. Retrieved 28 March 2011.
  68.  Clarke, Roger (1 December 2006). “Story Of The Scene: ‘Don’t Look Now’ Nicolas Roeg (1973)”. independent.co.uk (The Independent). http://www.independent.co.uk/arts-entertainment/films/features/story-of-the-scene-dont-look-now-nicolas-roeg-1973-426443.html. Retrieved 24 February 2011.
  69.  O’Sullivan, Tom (6 February 2000). “Beg, borrow or steal”. guardian.co.uk (The Observer). http://www.guardian.co.uk/film/2000/feb/06/100filmmoments.culture4. Retrieved 24 February 2011.
  70.  Ebert, Roger (5 June 1979). “The Brood”. rogerebert.com (Chicago Sun-Times). http://rogerebert.suntimes.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/19790605/REVIEWS/906050301. Retrieved 20 February 2011.
  71.  Kania 2009, p. 133.
  72.  French, Philip (9 April 2006). “The Dark”. guardian.co.uk (The Guardian). http://www.guardian.co.uk/film/2006/apr/09/philipfrench4. Retrieved 24 February 2011.
  73.  Wood, Jason (3 June 2005). “His brilliant career”. guardian.co.uk (The Guardian). http://www.guardian.co.uk/film/2005/jun/03/hayfilmfestival2005.hayfestival. Retrieved 24 February 2011.
  74.  Eyre, Hermione (28 April 2007). “Ice queen: Sophie Ellis-Bextor, pop’s coolest diva”. independent.co.uk (The Independent). http://www.independent.co.uk/arts-entertainment/music/features/ice-queen-sophie-ellisbextor-pops-coolest-diva-446443.html. Retrieved 24 February 2011.

Bibliography

 

Reviews

   7.5

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0069995/

 

 

   95%

http://www.rottentomatoes.com/m/dont_look_now/

 

 

 

 

And Soon The Darkness

 

 

 

Certificate: 15

Released: 10th September, 1970

Director: Robert Fuest

Producer: Albert Fennell, Brian Clemens

Starring: Pamela Franklin, Michele Dotrice, Sandor Elès, John Nettleton, Clare Kelly

Screenwriter: Brian Clemens, Terry Nation

Running Time: 94 mins

Trailer: YouTube Preview Image

 

Summary

With its cheerful opening title soundtrack, the film slowly develops into a suspenseful road journey. The locations around the French countryside are pleasing to the eye, and also add to the unsettling atmosphere. The film’s main highlight is without doubt the moment Cathy is alone by the roadside and suspecting someone is watching her. Director Robert Feust, obviously influenced by Hitchcock, does a fairly competent job building up the paranoia and tension, but perhaps lays it on too thickly towards the end of the movie, when the chase scenes start to drag, rather than keep the viewer riveted.

And Soon the Darkness is a 1970 British thriller film. Starring Pamela Franklin, Michele Dotrice and Sandor Elès, it tells the story of two young English women on a cycling holiday in France, who run into difficulties.

 

Plot

Jane (Pamela Franklin) and Cathy (Michele Dotrice) are two young nurses from London, taking a cycling holiday in rural France. When they stop at a busy cafe, Jane wants to plan their route, but Cathy is more interested in a handsome man (Sandor Elès), whom she spies drinking alone at the next table. Later, as Jane and Cathy make their way along a quiet country road, the man, who rides a Lambretta TV series III, overtakes them, and they pass him a few minutes later, as he rests by a cemetery gate. Cathy becomes intrigued by him.

Stopping for a rest, Cathy decides she wants to sunbathe for a while, but Jane wants to push on. Eventually they argue, and Jane decides to carry on alone.

A short while later, at a lonely café, the owner tries to tell Jane, in poor English, that the area has a bad reputation. She begins to reconsider her decision, and heads back to the spot where she left Cathy earlier, unaware that something has already happened.

Unable to find her friend, and increasingly concerned about the presence of the moped rider, Jane decides to look for the local police officer (John Nettleton). Jane becomes convinced that the moped driver, who is called Paul, and who says he is a plain-clothes detective, is in fact Cathy’s attacker. She escapes from him – in the process discovering Cathy’s dead body – and re-encounters the policeman, who is then revealed as Cathy’s actual murderer. He attacks Jane but is stopped by Paul, who knocks him unconscious.

 

Production

The film was directed by Robert Fuest, and made by the same production team that had recently completed the television series The Avengers. The screenplay was written by Brian Clemens and Terry Nation, both of whom had contributed to The Avengers, as well as to several ITC crime series made in Britain. Consequently, in spite of being filmed on location in France, the film has more of the look and feel of these earlier series. Notwithstanding the title, the film eschews the familiar use of darkness and claustrophobia to create suspense. In a way analogous to Stanley Kubrick’s use of the large hotel interiors in The Shining (which it predates by a decade), the mounting drama unfolds in bright, open spaces. Similar parallels have been drawn with the isolation and dread of the open road in Steven Spielberg’s thriller Duel.

 

Reception

The film did moderately well at the box-office on both sides of the Atlantic, but was not received particularly well critically. Time Out called it “nasty”,[1] and the New York Times said it displayed “poverty of imagination”.[2] The British film critic Leslie Halliwell noted that it had “some pretension to style”.[3]

 

Release

It was released as a DVD in the US with an audio commentary by Fuest and Clemens, and released in the UK as a region 2 DVD at the end of January 2008.

 

Remake

An American remake of this film was released in 2010.[4]

 

References

Time Out website review

New York Times, 5 April 1971

Halliwell’s Film Guide entry

AFM ’09: First Look at ‘And Soon the Darkness’ Remake

 

Reviews

  6.7

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0065398/

Peeping Tom

 

 

 

Certificate: R18

Released: 16 May 1960 (UK)

Director: Michael Powell

Producer: Nat Cohen

Starring: Karlheinz Böhm, Anna Massey and Moira Shearer

Screenwriters: Leo Marks (original story and screenplay)

Running Time: 101 min

Trailer: YouTube Preview Image

 

Summary

This is the ultimate voyeuristic psychological thriller, a once forbidden classic that was way ahead of its time. A British masterpiece that still manages to shock even today.

Peeping Tom is a 1960 British psychological thriller directed by Michael Powell and written by the World War II cryptographer and polymath Leo Marks. The title derives from the slang expression ‘peeping Tom’ describing a voyeur. The film revolves around a serial killer who murders women while using a portable movie camera to record their dying expressions of terror.

Its controversial subject and the extremely harsh reception by critics effectively destroyed Powell’s career as a director in the United Kingdom. However, it attracted a cult following, and in later years, it has been re-evaluated and is now considered a masterpiece.[1]

 

Plot

Mark Lewis (Carl Boehm) meets a prostitute, covertly filming her with a camera hidden under his coat. Shown from the point-of-view of the camera viewfinder, tension builds as he follows the girl into her house, murders her and later watches the film in his den as the credits roll on the screen.

Lewis is a member of a film crew who aspires to become a filmmaker himself. He works part-time photographing lurid pictures of women. He is a shy, reclusive young man who hardly ever socializes outside of his workplace. He lives in his father’s house, leasing part of it and acting as the landlord, while posing as a tenant himself. Mark is fascinated by the boisterous family living downstairs, and especially by Helen (Anna Massey), a sweet-natured young woman who befriends him out of pity.

Mark reveals to Helen through home movies taken by his father (played by director Powell in a cameo) that, as a child, he was used as a guinea pig for his father’s psychological experiments in fear and the nervous system. Mark’s father would study his son’s reaction to various stimuli, such as lizards he put on his bed and would film the boy in all sorts of situations, even going as far as recording his son’s reactions as he sat with his mother on her deathbed. He kept his son under constant watch and even wired all the rooms so that he could spy on him. The father’s studies made his reputation as a psychologist.

Mark arranges with Vivian (Moira Shearer), a stand-in at the studio, to make a film after the set is closed; he then kills her and stuffs her into a prop trunk. The body is discovered later by the horrified film crew. The police link the two murders and notice that each victim died with a look of utter terror on her face. They interview everyone on the set and become suspicious of Mark, who has his camera always running, always recording and who claims that he is making a documentary.

A psychiatrist, called to the set to console the upset star of the movie, chats with Mark and tells him that he is familiar with his father’s work. The psychiatrist relates the details of the conversation to the police, noting that Mark has “his father’s eyes”.

Mark is tailed by the police who follow him to the building where he takes photographs of the pin-up model Milly (Pamela Green). Two versions of this scene were shot. The more risqué version is credited as being the first female nude scene in a major British feature [2] (although even on the racier version, Milly only exposes one breast for a few seconds). Mark kills Milly and then returns home.

Helen, who is curious about Mark’s films, finally runs one of them. She becomes visibly upset and frightened when he catches her. Mark reveals that he makes the movies so that he can capture the fear of his victims. He has mounted a round mirror atop his camera, so that he can capture the reactions of his victims as they see their impending deaths.

The police arrive and Mark realizes he is cornered. As he had planned from the very beginning, he impales himself with a knife attached to one of the camera’s tripod legs, killing himself the same way he dispatched his victims, and with the camera running, providing the finale for his documentary.

 

Cast

Anna Massey and Carl Boehm

 

Carl Boehm as Mark Lewis

Moira Shearer as Vivian

Anna Massey as Helen Stephens

Maxine Audley as Mrs. Stephens

Brenda Bruce as Dora

Miles Malleson as Elderly gentleman customer

Esmond Knight as Arthur Baden

Martin Miller as Dr. Rosan

Michael Goodliffe as Don Jarvis

Jack Watson as Chief Insp. Gregg

Shirley Anne Field as Diane Ashley

Pamela Green as Milly, the model

Cast notes:

Director Michael Powell appears in a film from Mark’s collection, as his father, A.N. Lewis, with Powell’s own son Columba Powell playing Mark as a child. Both were uncredited.

 

Themes

Peeping Tom has been praised for its psychological complexity.[3] On the surface, the film is about the Freudian relationship between the protagonist and his father and the protagonist and his victims. However, several critics argue that the film is as much about the voyeurism of the audience as they watch the protagonist’s actions. For example, Roger Ebert, in his review of the film, states that “The movies make us into voyeurs. We sit in the dark, watching other people’s lives. It is the bargain the cinema strikes with us, although most films are too well-behaved to mention it.”[4] In this reading, Lewis is an allegory of the director of a horror film. In horror movies, the directors kill victims, often innocents, to provoke responses from the audiences and to manipulate their responses. Lewis records the deaths of his victims with his camera and by using the mirror and showing each of his victims their last moments, provokes their own fear even as he kills them.

Martin Scorsese, who has long been an admirer of Powell’s works, has stated that this film, along with Federico Fellini’s , contains all that can be said about directing:

I have always felt that Peeping Tom and  say everything that can be said about film-making, about the process of dealing with film, the objectivity and subjectivity of it and the confusion between the two.  captures the glamour and enjoyment of film-making, while Peeping Tom shows the aggression of it, how the camera violates… From studying them you can discover everything about people who make films, or at least people who express themselves through films.[5]

Reception

Peeping Tom was an immensely controversial film on initial release[6] and the critical backlash heaped on the film was a major factor in finishing Powell’s career as a director in the UK.[7]However, the film earned a cult following, and since the 1970s has received a critical reappraisal that not only salvaged Powell’s reputation but also earned the film a re-evaluation. He noted ruefully in his autobiography, “I make a film that nobody wants to see and then, thirty years later, everybody has either seen it or wants to see it.”

An account of the film’s steady reappraisal can be found in Scorsese on Scorsese, edited by Ian Christie and David Thompson. Martin Scorsese mentions that he first heard of the film as a film student in the early 1960s, when Peeping Tom opened in only one theatre in the Alphabet City district of New York, which as Scorsese notes was a seedy district of the city. The film was released in a cut black-and-white print but immediately became a cult fascination among Scorsese’s generation. Scorsese states that the film, in its black-and-white cut form, influenced Jim McBride’s David Holzman’s Diary. Scorsese himself first saw the film in 1970 through a friend who owned a 35mm colour, uncut print. In 1978, Scorsese was approached by a New York distributor, Corinth Films, which asked for $5000 for a wider re-release. Scorsese gladly complied with their request, which allowed the film to reach a wider audience than its initial cult following.[8]

Today, the film is considered a masterpiece and one of the best British horror films. In 2004, the magazine Total Film named Peeping Tom the 24th greatest British movie of all time,[9] and in 2005, the same magazine listed it as the 18th greatest horror film of all time.[10] It was included in a BFI poll for the best British films of all time. The film contains the 38th of Bravo Channel’s 100 Scariest Movie Moments.[11] Roger Ebert has included it in his ‘Great Movies’ column.[12]

 

Relationship with Hitchcock’s films

The themes of voyeurism in Peeping Tom are also explored in several films by Alfred Hitchcock. In his book on Hitchcock’s 1958 film Vertigo, Charles Barr points out that the film’s title sequence and several shots seem to have inspired moments in Peeping Tom.[13]

Chris Rodley’s documentary A Very British Psycho (1997) draws comparisons between Peeping Tom and Hitchcock’s Psycho; the latter film was released in June 1960, only three months after Peeping Tom‘s premiere. Both films feature as protagonists atypically mild-mannered serial killers who are obsessed with their parents. However, despite containing material similar toPeeping TomPsycho became a box-office success and only increased the popularity and fame of its director (although the film was widely criticized in the English press). One reason suggested in the documentary is that Hitchcock, seeing the negative press reaction to Peeping Tom, decided to release Psycho without a press screening.[14]

In his early career, Powell worked as a stills photographer and in other positions on Hitchcock’s films, and the two were friends throughout their careers. A variant of Peeping Tom‘s main conceit, The Blind Man, was one of Hitchcock’s unproduced films around this time. Here, a blind pianist receives the eyes of a murder victim, but their retinas retain the image of the murder.

 

DVD releases

Peeping Tom has currently received releases on DVD by the following different distributors:

Studio Canal/Warner Bros (Region 2)
Released with just the film and a photo gallery.

Criterion (Region 1)
Includes the Channel Four documentary A Very British Psycho and a commentary by Laura Mulvey

Warner Home Vidéo / L’Institut Lumière (Region 2)
6 DVD boxed set of I Know Where I’m Going!A Canterbury Tale and Peeping Tom
The Peeping Tom double disk set includes:

Memories of Michael (Part 7) by Thelma Schoonmaker-Powell
(In English with French subtitles); 12 min

A Daring Adventurer (Part 7) by Bertrand Tavernier
(In French with English subtitles); 20 min

A Very British Psycho
(In English with French subtitles); 51 min

My Fetish Film
An interview by the French director Gaspar Noé[15]
(In French with English subtitles); 14 min

The Film Poster
An interview by the French Director Gaspar Noé[15]
(In French with English subtitles); 2 min

Optimum Releasing (Region 2)
A special edition as another of their Studio Canal re-releases, which include the 2006 special edition of Don’t Look Now. It was released on March 26, 2007.
Details follow:

Brand new and exclusive commentary by Ian Christie, Powell expert

Brand new and exclusive introduction by Martin Scorsese

Brand new and exclusive interview by Thelma Schoonmaker, Powell’s widow and Oscar winning film editor

The Eye of the Beholder (30 mins) A documentary in which Scorsese, Schoonmaker and Christie talk about the film

The Strange Gaze of Mark Lewis (25 mins) A documentary about the psychology of the protagonist

Trailer

Booklet containing essay, interview with screenwriter Leo Marks and extract from Powell’s autobiography, Million Dollar Movie

Behind the scenes stills gallery

 

Comparisons

Comparisons have been made between Peeping Tom and other significant films in this genre such as:

“‘Peeping Tom’ and ‘Psycho’: Reinventing The Horror Film”. Retrieved 2006-11-05.

“Snuff said, comparing 8MM to Peeping Tom”. Retrieved 2006-11-05.

“Sometimes You Feel Like a Nut … comparing Peeping Tom & Psycho”. Retrieved 2006-11-05.

 

Cultural references

Mike Patton’s band Peeping Tom, and its self-titled album, are named in tribute to this movie.[16]

Scarlett Thomas makes reference to the film in her 1999 novel In Your Face.

The film is referred to by Ghostface in Scream 4 as being the first slasher film.

 

Notes

  1.  Martin Scorsese restores British masterpiece
  2.  Nudist Paradise (1959) was released before Peeping Tom (1960) and that had fully naked women in it
  3.  Mark Duguid. “screenonline: Peeping Tom (1960)”. Retrieved 2007-03-19.
  4.  “Roger Ebert: Great Movies: Peeping Tom”. rogerebert.suntimes.com. Retrieved 2006-09-18.
  5.  David Thompson and Ian Christie (eds). Scorsese on Scorsese. London: Faber & Faber. 1989
  6.  Case Study: Peeping Tom, Students’ British Board of Film Classification page
  7.  “The Killer Reviews”. powell-pressburger.org. Retrieved 2006-09-18.
  8.  David Thompson and Ian Christie (eds). Scorsese on Scorsese. London: Faber & Faber. 1989. Chapter 1
  9.  “Total Film’s 50 Greatest British Movies Ever”. Retrieved 2009-12-11.
  10.  “Shock Horror! Total Film Proudly Hails The 50 Greatest Horror Movies Of All Time”. totalfilm.com. Retrieved 2006-07-23.
  11.  “The 100 Scariest Movie Moments”. bravotv.com. Archived from the original on 2006-07-13. Retrieved 2006-06-29.
  12.  “great movies”. rogerebert.suntimes.com.
  13.  Charles Barr, Vertigo (London: BFI, 2002)
  14.  A Very British Psycho (1997), dir. Chris Rodley; included on the Criterion Collection DVD of Peeping Tom.
  15.  a b Gaspar Noé is named as Gaspard Noé on the DVD box but as Gaspar Noé on the DVD itself
  16.  “Peeping Tom: Biography”. Retrieved 2007-03-04.

Bibliography

 

External links

 

Reviews

  7.8

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0054167/

 

   94%

http://www.rottentomatoes.com/m/peeping-tom/

Horror Of Dracula

 

 

  

Certificate: 12A

Released: 16 June 1958 (UK)

Director: Terence Fisher

Producer: Anthony Hinds

Starring:  Peter Cushing, Christopher Lee and Michael Gough

Screenwriters: Jimmy Sangster (screenplay), Bram Stoker (novel)

Running Time: 82 min

Trailer:

YouTube Preview Image

 

Summary

The grand-daddy of them all, this is the ultimate Hammer Dracula film, with stalwarts Lee and Cushing in fine form. Fisher’s competent direction keeps this at a swift pace, with some brilliant set-pieces and predictably stirring score by James Bernard. This is the peak of the franchise, the Carry On Khyber of the Hammer films.

Dracula is a 1958 British horror film, and the first of a series of Hammer Horror films inspired by the Bram Stoker novel Dracula. It was directed by Terence Fisher, and stars Peter Cushing, Michael Gough, Carol Marsh, Melissa Stribling and Christopher Lee. In the United States, the film was retitled Horror of Dracula to avoid confusion with the Tod Browning-directed Dracula (1931) starring Bela Lugosi.

Production began at Bray Studios on the 17 November 1957 with an investment of £81,000.[1]

 

Plot

May 1885. Jonathan Harker arrives at the castle of Count Dracula near Klausenberg, posing as a librarian. He is startled inside the castle by a young woman begging for help, claiming to be a prisoner. Dracula then greets Harker and guides him to his room, where he locks him in. Jonathan starts to write in his diary, and his true intentions are revealed: he has come to kill Dracula.

 

John Van Eyssen as Jonathan Harker.

 

Freed sometime later, Harker again is confronted by the desperate woman. She begs him for help but then bites his neck. Just as she does, Dracula – fangs bared and lips bloody – arrives and yanks her away. When he awakens in daylight, Harker finds the bite mark. He hides his journal in a Virgin Marygrotto outside the castle and descends into the crypts, where he finds Dracula and the unnamed vampire woman resting in their coffins. Armed with a stake, he impales the woman. But when he turns to kill Dracula, the Count has already awakened and is waiting for him…

Dr. Van Helsing then arrives in Klausenberg, looking for Harker. The frightened townsfolk give him Harker’s journal. When he arrives at the castle, it is deserted; a hearse carriage speeds by with a coffin in it. In the crypt, Van Helsing is horrified to discover Harker lying in a coffin as a vampire. Staking Harker, he leaves to deliver the veiled news of Harker’s death in person to a wary Arthur Holmwood and his wife Mina, brother and sister-in-law of Harker’s fiancée Lucy Holmwood. Lucy is ill, so the news is kept from her. But, when night falls, Lucy opens the doors to her terrace and lays bare her neck — already, it bears the mark of a vampire bite. And soon Dracula arrives and bites her again.

Mina seeks out Van Helsing’s aid in treating Lucy’s worsening health, but Lucy defeats his anti-vampire prescription and dies. Van Helsing turns over Harker’s journal and reveals the truth. Vampire Lucy lures away a young niece, but the girl is saved by Van Helsing and Arthur. Arthur refuses to use Lucy as a means to find Dracula, so Van Helsing stakes Lucy in her coffin.

 

Christopher Lee as Count Dracula.

 

Van Helsing and Arthur travel to the customs house in Ingstadt to track down the destination of Dracula’s coffin (which Van Helsing saw carried away when he arrived at Dracula’s castle). Meanwhile, Mina is called away from home by a message telling her to meet Arthur at an address in Karlstadt — the same address Arthur and Van Helsing are told the coffin was bound for — and Dracula is indeed waiting for her…

The next morning, Arthur and Van Helsing find Mina in a strange state. They leave for the address they were given, an undertaker’s, but find the coffin missing. When they decide to set off again, Arthur tries to give Mina a cross to wear, but it burns her.

During the night, Van Helsing and Arthur guard Mina’s windows outside against a return of Dracula, but Dracula nonetheless appears inside the house and bites her. A remark by the maid leads Van Helsing to the coffin’s location: the cellar of the Holmwoods’ own house. But Dracula is not in the coffin and instead escapes into the night with Mina.

A chase then begins as Dracula rushes to return to his castle near Klausenberg before sunrise. He attempts to bury Mina alive outside the crypts but is caught by Van Helsing and Arthur. Inside the castle, Van Helsing and Dracula struggle. Van Helsing tears open the curtain to let in the sunlight and, forming a cross of candlesticks, he forces Dracula into it. Dracula crumbles into dust as Van Helsing looks on. Mina recovers, the cross-shaped scar fading from her hand as Dracula’s ashes blow away and leave only a ring behind.

 

Cast

Peter Cushing as Doctor Van Helsing

Christopher Lee as Count Dracula

Michael Gough as Arthur

Melissa Stribling as Mina

Carol Marsh as Lucy

Olga Dickie as Gerda

John Van Eyssen as Jonathan

Valerie Gaunt as Vampire Woman

Janina Faye as Tania

Barbara Archer as Inga

Charles Lloyd Pack as Doctor Seward

George Merritt as Policeman

George Woodbridge as Landlord

George Benson as Official

Miles Malleson as Undertaker

Geoffrey Bayldon as Porter

 

DVD release

The film made its first appearance on DVD in 2002 in the U.S. and was later re-released on 6 November 2007, the movie was released in a film pack along with Dracula Has Risen from the GraveTaste the Blood of Dracula, and Dracula AD 1972.

 

Screenplay and its differences from the novel

This film adaptation made several deviations from the original novel. The location of the Count’s castle, near Klausenberg, is only a short distance (and customs checkpoint) from the city inhabited by the Holmwood family, which appears to be German-speaking. The sea voyage from Transylvania to England does not appear in the film and consequently Dracula never takes up residence in his English home, Carfax Abbey neighboring an insane asylum.

Jonathan Harker is a librarian and vampire hunter, having come to Dracula’s castle to destroy him, rather than an unwitting solicitor. He also becomes a vampire and is dispatched by his friend Van Helsing.

Mina is Arthur Holmwood’s wife, while Lucy is his sister and Jonathan’s fiancée.

The characters of R. M. Renfield and Quincey Morris are omitted.

Doctor John Seward only appears twice, in two brief scenes as the family doctor, and is completely unaware of the supernatural goings-on.

Count Dracula has only one Bride (there are three in the novel), and she is destroyed by Jonathan Harker, not Van Helsing. She ages upon her true “death”.

Only one coffin is transported to the city.

Count Dracula does not grow younger, nor is he seen shapeshifting (although this ability is alluded to by Van Helsing, and vampire are seen to be able to shapeshift in The Brides of Dracula).

The Count uses only two magic powers and those are the ability to hypnotise women with his eyes and travel through fog.

Count Dracula is destroyed by sunlight, whereas his powers are merely limited by daylight in the novel.

 

Special effects

The filming of Dracula’s destruction included a shot in which Dracula appears to peel away his decaying skin. This was accomplished by putting a layer of red makeup on Christopher Lee’s face, and then covering his entire face with a thin coating of mortician’s wax, which was then made up to conform to his normal skin tone. When he raked his fingers across the wax, it revealed the “raw” marks underneath. Still photos of this startling shot exist, but it was cut out of the disintegration sequence in the film.

 

Zodiac wheel in final scene

At the end of the movie, Dracula is destroyed on an inlaid Zodiac wheel on the floor, which has several quotes in Latin and Greek. The inner circle in Greek, has a quote from Homer’s OdysseyBook 18.136-7: “τοῖος γὰρ νόος ἐστὶν ἐπιχθονίων ἀνθρώπων οἷον ἐπ᾽ ἦμαρ ἄγησι πατὴρ ἀνδρῶν τε θεῶν τε” (“The mind of men who live on the earth is such as the day the father of gods and men [Zeus] brings upon them.”) The outer wheel is written in Latin, and is a quote from Hesiod via Bartolomeo Anglico (De proprietatibus rerum, Book 8, Chapter 2): “Tellus vero primum siquidem genuit parem sibi coelum stellis ornatum, ut ipsam totam obtegat, utque esset beatis Diis sedes tuta semper.” (“And Earth first bare starry Heaven, equal to herself, to cover her on every side, and to be an ever-sure abiding-place for the blessed gods.”) Dracula’s ring is left on the water sign on the Zodiac wheel, which perhaps symbolizes his final rebirth.

 

UK Re-Release Controversy

When the film was originally released in the UK, the BBFC gave it an X rating, being cut, while the 2007 uncut re-release was given a 12A.

 

Notes and references

  1. *Rigby, Jonathan, (2000). English Gothic: A Century of Horror Cinema. Reynolds & Hearn Ltd. ISBN 1-903111-01-3.

 

External links

 

Reviews

   7.6

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0051554/

 

   89%

http://www.rottentomatoes.com/m/horror_of_dracula/