17 August 2010 | Bloodwank
Curious, unsettling and imperfect little psycho-chiller
Aging and alcoholic past it movie star Kathleen Parker takes a spill and needs a personal assistant. Unfortunately for her, Vic might not be a good choice for the job. In fact he might just be
A Savage Intruder!... Opening to a salvo of in and out fading clips from old movies before the camera draws in upon the Hollywood sign, pulling closer and closer until it fixes on the tattered and peeling facade, rusty strips hanging out and creaky in the breeze, this mean little hippy era psycho chiller poses old school Hollywood as corpse, intent signalled as the shot pulls down beneath the Hollywood sign to reveal some severed human remains. Vic is introduced soon after and things follow a fairly typical path, with the added frisson of an age war aspect. The town may have its stately and dignified older folk, well mannered and good too each other despite their foibles, but the decadence of a new age as embodied in the smarmy Vic is set on mockery, exploitation and worse for the gentler souls. In colourful and modishly trippy party sequences Vic and his chums are a fairly striking bunch of freaks and weirdos, and when they come up against the likes of Kathleen or her contemporaries perhaps maggots claiming their dominion over the dead milieu? Some of the partying scenes come off a little loose and may be offputting, I was amused enough to ride them out though the dated psychedelic touches are best applied in Vic's flashbacks. Chequer patterned surfaces, gaudy colours, close up faces with distorted speech shot through a fish eye lens and a nifty gore shot to top things off, it's a cool sequence if you groove to this sort of time capsule oddity. For more creepy kicks mannequins get a neat showing, as well as some weapon flashing murders, though nothing too grisly goes down. Miriam Hopkins fits the character of Kathleen perfectly, perhaps because she was an old school movie star herself, whilst fellow veteran Gale Sondegard is equally well suited to a role as an older housekeeper. Virginia Wing overacts a little but does OK as a nice young Asian lady, whilst John David Garfield has a suitably oily and arrogant demeanour as Vic. He falls a good way short of being vicious or scary enough though, which brings things down a good deal. Also the film peaks at around the hour mark, with a draggy final block propelled in barely adequate fashion by a few freaky touches. Kinda unsatisfying ending too. Still, the film as a whole is odd enough to be interesting and mean spirited enough to be a little unsettling, so it just about works on the obscure curio level. Not recommended to most, but worth a look if you dig this kind of off the beaten track kookiness.