14 June 2007 | Milo-Jeeder
I love it, but then again, I love cheesy horror films.
Branded as a sequel to "Demons" outside of Italy, this film has nothing to do with that franchise, though it has a strong connection to one of the most iconic Italian horror flicks from the 80s: "The House by the Cemetery", directed by Lucio Fulci. The way I see it, "The Ogre" could be considered a poor man's "The House by the Cemetery", as it bears a lot of similarities to it, at least, plot-wise. The script of both films are based on the same screenplay by Dardano Sacchetti. The thing is that, both Lucio Fulci and Lamberto Bava made a lot of changes to the original source material, which resulted in two very different films that share a lot of similarities. Strangely enough, Paolo Malco plays the family dad in both films. Besides that, here's a list of things that can be found in both films: The main characters are the members of a family of three and in both cases, there's an irritating little son named Bobby. The woman of the house is a beautiful thirty-something, who seems to be the only one to realize that there's something really dark going in the new house, much to her husband's dismay, who believes that the woman is going nuts. In both films, there's a grotesque creature living in the basement and an oblivious baby-sitter who suffers the consequences of being in the wrong place, at the wrong time. If there are any other similarities betwen both films, I can't recall right now, but plot-wise, "The Ogre" has a much lighter ending, in which the characters are able to leave the house, safe and sound.
A gentle warning, though: those who enjoyed "The House by the Cemetery" should know that "The Ogre", enjoyable as it is, it is less artsy, less scary, less dark and not nearly as gory as the 1981 film.
In "The Ogre", the story begins with a little girl named Cheryl, who is tormented by a nightmare, in which she is stalked by a horrendous creature that lives in a creepy old basement.
Several years later, we see Cheryl as a grown woman, now a successful horror novelist, married to a guy named Tom, with whom she has a 10-year-old son, named Bobby. Cheryl and her family go on a vacation trip to an old deserted castle, located in the heart of an Italian villa called Trifiri. Shortly after their arrival, the woman has the feeling that she had been in the villa before, which is very odd, since she knows for a fact, that she had never been to Trifiri in her life. Cheryl begins to experience visions of that horrible nightmare that she used to have when she was little. Her husband, who is not a very patient guy to begin with, tells her to cut the crap and enjoy the damn vacation, before he loses his marbles. However, Cheryl knows that the old nightmare from her childhood is actually becoming real and she's going to have to fight that horrible ogre on her own, since nobody seems to believe her.
"The Ogre" is mostly an enjoyable film, but has a hard time filling 90 minutes, so Bava ends up providing a excessive amount of time in which we see the main character walking around the castle, going on about her business and reviving the images of her childhood, with a look of dismay in her eyes. While these sequences feature a great score composed by Simon Boswell, that creates a dark atmosphere and the rustic villa where most of the action takes place is nightmare fuel, in the end, these scenes end up getting somewhat redundant and tedious. Since this movie deals with a main character who is trying to determine if horrible things are actually happening or if she's having hallucinations, we get a lot of "Is this real or not?" moments and, after a while, it gets a little old. Nothing that ruins the film completely, but it definitely makes me wonder if this could have worked better had it been 10 minutes shorter. Weirdly enough, the final confrontation (the so-called "climax", for the lack of a better word, in this particular case) could have used a few extra minutes, as it feels somewhat rushed and it leaves you, like, "That's it?". A main antagonist like the ogre deserved an epic battle that never happened.
Like many Italian horror films that came out throughout the late eighties, "The Ogre" is stylish and effective, but it also offers unintentionally funny moments. At one point, during a heated argument, Cheryl is brutally slapped by her husband and instead of being shocked or even mildly confused about this act of violence, she doesn't hesitate to strike back in a way that puts Mike Tyson to shame. Two minutes later, we see Cheryl and Tom laughing and holding hands, as if punching each other like that was the most natural thing in the world for them. Definitely one of the biggest "what the fudge!" moments in this flick.
As for the ogre itself, the creature has a creepy design and it works as the main antagonist, but it would have been better if they hadn't shown too much of it, especially because the budget was a little bit low and it shows. The ogre's look is mostly adequate, he appears to be in a semi-advanced state of decomposition and he looks threatening with his claw-shaped hands, the hideous face, the sharp teeth and that filthy goo that drips from him. My only dislike regarding the monster's design is that he wears strange clothes that I found similar to Shakespeare, which gives him a somewhat funny looking aspect in certain scenes. We don't really get to know anything about his story, which is fine, I'd take over the lack of an explanation over a sympathetic villain with an over-exposed background story. Other than the fact that he lives in Trifiri and that he hibernates in a strange cocoon-like thing, we don't know anything else.
I just love this flick, including the small flaws and most people who enjoy Italian horror productions from the eighties, won't be disappointed by this one. It is atmospheric for sure and even though there are a few unintentionally funny moments, it really provides a decent share of creepiness.