15 May 2005 | The_Void
Much better than you would expect
Because it's a newer version of a classic horror movie (and it went directly to video), I have been putting off watching Stuart Gordon's take on Edgar Allen Poe's classic story, but after finally catching it; I can honestly say that I don't know why I didn't see it earlier! While the Roger Corman/Vincent Price version of the tale is far better, this update still has a lot in store for the horror fan, most notably it's superb European styled atmosphere, and a fine performance by Lance Henriksen, which may even be the best of his career. While these elements are contributors to the film's success, the main reason why the film works is the story behind it. Of course, it's based (albeit loosely) on Poe's classic tale, so the story is bound to be solid; but it doesn't take all of it's influence from Poe, and so Dennis Paoli can take a lot of credit for the screenplay he wrote for the movie. The idea of 'the pendulum', along with a 'pit' can conjure up many feelings of dread and pain, and this film adequately capitalises on that with it's excellent torture filled finale!
As mentioned, Lance Henriksen gives what is maybe his best performance in this film. He is both powerful and frightening in his role as Torquemada, the head witchfinder of the Spanish Inquisition. When he says "I am the inquisition", it's enough to make your hairs stand on end. Henriksen is a criminally underrated actor and one that certainly deserves more praise...it's just unfortunate that he tends to shine in movies that don't get noticed. Also in the cast is 'Re-Animator' himself, Jeffrey Combs, who shines in a small role as someone in the inquisition. The film isn't wholly serious, and Stuart Gordon has seen fit to add some comic relief to the proceedings, which is OK but I feel that the movie would be better off without any 'relief'. Certain elements from other Poe stories appear, such as a man being bricked in behind a wall, and this film seems to treat it's subject material with respect. The European horror style is a major plus factor in my opinion, and should please fans of movies from the sixties and seventies. On the whole; surprisingly good!