Thursday, July 8, 2010

I Won-ded

A few weeks ago I got an email from Film Fetish saying I'd won a contest but the prize hadn't been revealed yet. And then, bam, this showed up in my mailbox:

Of course I remember this film from when it came out - I know I watched it on VHS once and then never again. I don't recall having strong feelings about it either way - and I'm sure I've never seen it again since its original release.

But since I love winning things, I was all kinds of excited about my new prize and excited to watch it. I even tried to talk Papa Cash into watching it with me.

His response:
'Why would I want to watch a twenty year old horror movie?'

My response:

Anyway...cut to tonight when the P.Cash is at a Brewers game, my work is done, I'm off tomorrow, and the time is RIGHT for some straight up Terry O'Quinn INSANITY.
80's style.

What's really interesting to me about this movie is that it works. It works despite the filmmakers giving away all the secrets as soon as the movie starts. (For an example of where this technique does anything BUT work, see : Prom Night Remake).

In less than ten minutes, they've laid it all out on the table. Not only do we get the goriest scene in the movie, we're told that Terry O'Quinn is batshit nuts, he's dangerous, and oh yeah - those people in that house pissed him off REAL BAD. But he's still civil enough to tidy up a little and put the bloody phone back on the hook before he leaves.

Cut to the next family - Terry O'Quinn looks different, has a new family, acts like the perfect husband and father - but we all know the real deal here. Hell, even the new stepdaughter knows SOMETHING is not quite right with this dude. She even suspects that he just MIGHT be the same dude who slaughtered his family and disappeared.

But despite all the information we're given so early in the film, it still manages to work. Terry O'Quinn is so wonderfully imbalanced that the suspense lies in waiting to see what he's going to do next - there's no question that he'll lose it eventually, it's just a matter of when.

Which got Mother thinking about the good old days - and by the good old days, I mean the golden age of horror which was known as the 80's. (Not that I'm implying that the 80's were the only golden age of horror- certainly not - but back then it seemed like there was so much more to choose from. There were so many films that were GREAT - that a film like The Stepfather - probably low key in comparison to a lot of films from then - was, for me, not as exciting or intense as many of the other films I was watching then.

Cut to 25 years later and compare it to the myriad of sequels and remakes we're offered - and The Stepfather positively shines in comparison. Which is probably why I enjoyed it more now than I did all those years ago. We were SPOILED, my friends, completely and utterly SPOILED.

I want it NOW,
Mother 'Veruca' Firefly


Lazarus Lupin said...

The beginning of "The stepfather" works along the same line as Hitchcock's famous example of the bomb under the table. Show the bomb under the table to the audience, and then you can have folks sitting around it just having the most normal day in their lives, but we the audience are biting our nails. Heck the longer you keep that bomb from exploding the greater the tension grows. It really works if you can keep it low key and that's what this film does so well. Terry O'Quinn is not vogueing like a certain someone who plays Dr. Hannibal Lector. It's only cause we the audience already know who he is that we can read his expressions with such dread. A raised eyebrow? oh no! A slight frown at his stepdaughter? Honey you gotta run!
It's brilliant really.

art and review

Mother Firefly said...

Lazarus, EXCELLENT critique. I couldn't agree more about the Hitchcock connection.