One Minute Before Death (1972)

aka The Oval Portrait
Article 2598 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing Date: 5-16-2008
Posting Date: 9-23-2008
Directed by Rogelio A. Gonzalez
Featuring Wanda Hendrix, Barry Coe, Gisele MacKenzie
Country: USA/Mexico

A woman falls down a flight of stairs after being frightened by some hooded figures. Everyone thinks she’s dead, but she isn’t and is afraid of being buried alive. In her comatose state, she discovers the infidelity of her husband and the plot against her life.

Sometimes I wonder if I can legitimately say I’ve seen a movie. With some of these rarities, I have to settle for whatever copy I can get, and the DVD for this one jumps and skips so badly that I had to watch it twice on two different machines to piece together what was going on. This is far from the best way to view a movie. Furthermore, I wonder if this movie is confused with another one. One of the alternate titles for this is THE OVAL PORTRAIT, and most of the plot descriptions I run into talk about a woman being possessed by lady in a portrait. This at least sounds like a possible way to adapt the Poe story of the same name, but this movie has nothing to do with a portrait; if anything, it owes more to “The Premature Burial”, soap operas (there’s a lot of sleeping around going on) and Old Dark House movies. Yet, the credits match, and so I do nothing but shrug my shoulders.

The movie? Well, given my description of the viewing experience, I’ve got no choice but to give the movie the benefit of the doubt until I see it as it should be seen. At least one thing I can admire; the movie has an incredible amount of flashbacks during the first half hour (before the DVD becomes difficult), yet somehow manages to avoid being totally confusing. That’s something.

In the meantime, I’m making a note to hunt around for a better copy.



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