Article 3555 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing Date: 4-16-2011
Posting Date: 5-9-2011
Directed by Alan Gadney
Featuring Victor Buono, John Carradine, Mark Travis
What it is: Bizarre horror allegory
An art student finds himself at a mission-converted-into-hotel populated by strange people who seem to know his mind. He soon finds he has been drawn into the events of a previous life, where he is on trial for his life from the Inquisition.
I’ve finally found a suitable companion piece to match with MALPERTUIS if I ever wanted to watch a double-feature of pretentious allegorical fantasies masquerading as horror movies (though, to be truthful, I was never really looking for one). The opening credits feature shots of running down a narrow brick corridor as shot by a hand-held camera while a Gregorian chant is intoned over seventies action-movie music, which is as weird as it sounds and actually gives a good idea as to the what is to follow. The movie is addicted to editing, usually at the expense of clarity, and there’s just too many nano-second flashbacks to the previous lifetime. The movie has a rating of 2.0 on IMDB, and director Alan Gadney never made another film, and neither of these facts surprise me; after all, that’s what happens when you try to masquerade art films as horror movies.
Yet, as awful as it is on certain levels, I’m not dismissing it. One rule of thumb I like to use on art movies of this sort is to ask whether it has a sense of humor, and in truth, I did find myself laughing several times, not due to its incompetence but in actual reaction to certain comic ironies. I emerged with the sense that it actual was about something, and that it actually might be worth the effort of digging it out and finding what it is. It’s helped by the fact that the acting is mostly quite good, especially from Victor Buono, who has a way of projecting meaning with everything he says and whose facial reactions can speak volumes. John Carradine has a surprisingly substantial role in this one, and he too is quite good. In fact, the only performance I didn’t like was that of Mark Travis, who plays the student, but, to be perfectly honest, he’s got a near-impossible and awkwardly written role here. In the end, despite all the pretentiousness, I found this a worthwhile movie, and perhaps it even might be more appropriately be paired with THE CREATION OF THE HUMANOIDS, another movie I find worthwhile despite its awful reputation.