BluRay/DVD Reviews


By • Jul 23rd, 2002 •

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Anchor Bay, 1972
89 mins / British / Widscreen version, formatted for 16X9 monitors

Everything the jacket, and the commentary track, says about the film is absolutely true. Gorgeous looking – film and disc. Very big and remarkably well-covered for a Hammer film. Stupendous cast. And a quirky, daring script. But given all that, none of it works.

Michael Hordern. Fine actor, despite all the Michael Jeter jitters. Wonderful in THE TAMING OF THE SHREW (Col/TriStar) and many others. But here, as a raving lunatic of a priest, kind of serving as the Greek Chorus, he just seems displaced. We don’t believe he would be there, or in what his goals are, and we sense his probably-two-day commitment to the project.

Patrick McGee. Good actor, I guess, but best consigned to small roles (A CLOCKWORK ORANGE). How much of that voice can one take? His clothes are exquisite, purples and all. But his character is not well established. The commentators speak of having done research on Otto Mesmer to prepare for his role, but I never felt the presence of historical research. He just struck me as a bullshitter out for the glory and the buck, and maybe half-convinced by his own shtick.

Paul Jones. He’d been in Peter Watkins PRIVILEDGE, which Universal released, and I wish they would consider doing again on DVD. He’s got a kind of David Cronenberg quality here, uptight but eerie, and I kept expecting him to be the monstrous reveal. Didn’t happen, though.

Robert Hardy as Zorn. Suffering from a terminal case of the hams. And on this, the commentators agreed.

Virginia Witherall. What a nude scene! Her memory of it is pretty searing. But it’s our good fortune. On the commentary track (41 minutes in) she discusses appearing in A CLOCKWORK ORANGE. She easily slides into derision, and flirts with it in discussing the casting process for the Kubrick film, but by the time she gets to working with him, she’s all praise…and completely inarticulate. Clearly a woman more at home with sarcasm.

All the extra shots, the arty cutaways of shoes, wheel spokes, etc., are remarkable for having been done on a Hammer budget, but they don’t work, anymore than director Peter Sykes’ disconnected montage worked in SCREAM AND SCREAM AGAIN.

Is it a ‘spoiler’ to say that the writer, director, and various actors have seen this as a revisionist werewolf story? I don’t think I’m spoiling anything, since there’s no werewolf, the analogy is a far reach, and I can’t imagine that viewers, in the end, will perceive that such a concept was even planned.

Paul Jones
Patrick Magee
Robert Hardy
Virginia Wetherell
Michael Hordern
Yvonne Mitchell

Directed by Peter Sykes.
Screenplay by Christopher Wicking.
Produced by Frank Godwin.
Audio Commentary with Peter Sykes, Christopher Wicking, Virginia Wetherall.
Moderated by journalist Jonathan Sothcott.

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