13 December 2008 | Vallaor
Atmospheric fantasy from Poland
The horror genre in Poland stands rather weak. There's only a few really scary movies. And one of them is this, a motion picture that supposed to be a fairytale for children! Well, I always liked frightening tales, so as a child I enjoyed FRIEND OF A JOLLY DEVIL very much. But some of my peers are scared of this movie to this day. They even complaining about a childhood trauma caused by the sight of Pipe ("Jolly Devil" from the title)...
The movie itself is not a horror, but medieval fable about one boy's rite of passage. In order to save his father from blindness, Janek must leave the safeness of his home and begin very long journey. His goal is to conquer Lord Of Darkness himself! On the road Janek meets a strange creature: hairy ape-man, who calls himself Pipe, has some magical powers and carries with him a gigantic fork. Despite the scary look Pipe is a nice and, yes, jolly fellow (hence the title). Naturally, he becomes the companion of the young hero in his fascinating, yet dangerous adventure.
FRIEND... is very effective in creating mysterious atmosphere, despite obviously limited budget. Especially captivating is the appearance of virgin forest and mountains. All the fantasy creatures are memorable and original - Pipe, the tribe of dwarfs, and the whole army of Darkness. Maybe the least original (but effective nevertheless) are the two evil hunters, both dressed in leather, S/M fashion (!). The biggest surprise is The Lord Of The Darkness. He's not some kind of beast, more like the force of nature, pure evil spirit. Very smart concept, that should give young viewers something to think about.
Unfortunately, this fine piece of cinematic work is not available in DVD format to this day. Maybe someday someone will give it a try. Not suitable for small children, but a fest for the eyes for all the fantasy lovers, young and old. They should also check out another noteworthy polish production, RYCERZ(1980) by Lech Majewski, poetical parable set in Middle Ages.