Lokis (1970)

LOKIS (1970)
aka The Bear
Article 3750 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing Date: 11-8-2011
Posting Date: 11-20-2011
Directed by Janusz Majewski
Featuring Jozef Duriasz, Edmund Fetting, Gustaw Lutkiewicz
Country: Poland
What it is: Shapeshifter saga

A pastor studying Lithuanian customs stays with a nobleman in order to use the rare books in his library. He learns that the nobleman’s mother is insane, and that legend has it she became that way after she was assaulted by a bear, and that her son was the result of that union, making him a werebear. Is it just a legend….?

If I were to give a thumbnail description of this movie, I’d describe it as something of a cross between a movie of Val Lewton’s and one of Corman’s Poe movies in which a young stranger visits a manor whose lord is Vincent Price. I could certainly see Price in the role of the nobleman here, and like those movies, the story is told from the point of view of the visiting stranger. And like the Lewton movie, there is a certain ambiguity about just what the truth is. I found the movie intriguing and atmospheric, but it is overlong and slow-moving. Still, there are memorable moments here; I particularly like an encounter with a witch-like character in a swamp, which eventually leads to an intriguing moment later in the movie when the nobleman, to celebrate his marriage, releases some of the animals he has in captivity. I really enjoyed this one, and will probably be watching it again at some time.

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