Or so said the Buddha. I think he was right. If you desire for a movie to be good, it will suck, and you will suffer. I recently had the opportunity to watch two more films on my ’70s horror trip down nostalgia lane. This morning I viewed the Italian Argento film Suspiria. I’ll cut to the chase: the movie was entertaining, but my anticipation for something better left me feeling let down.
First of all, I strongly dislike dubbed films – give my blind ass subtitles any day of the week over lame voice overs. That being said, the dubbing on this one was pretty decent for the most part, at least as decent as dubbing can be. My feelings about the soundtrack were mixed. The music was actually creepy and effective, but the volume was wildly inconsistent. Granted, this was very possibly deliberate for effect, but the effect I actually noticed was annoyance as it became too loud and I had to actually turn it down, only to have to turn the sound back up to hear the otherwise barely audible dialog. I liked the dramatic color effects, although they didn’t quite have the effect they could have had on me (to be fair, my big belly television is old and the color settings are probably not ideal). The story was excellent, but this may have been part of the let down because the story was so fascinating in principle that I wanted more – more details, more depth of plot, and there just wasn’t much to feast on. I get the impression this film is meant to be a visual entree, and this is probably part of my disappointment – I always crave intellectual engagement over visual stimuli (if I have to make a choice, that is – it’s always nice to have both). This film seemed to aim for the sort of crowd that would get off on seeing blood artistically splattered across pretty settings (perhaps as opposed to being randomly splattered across the inside of a cabin…). Or something… Whatever.
I enjoyed Suspiria, despite all the negativity in the above paragraph. I just wish I enjoyed it more. I was expecting EPIC, not so-so. My bad. I guess seeing it in that exhibit in the EMP Museum in Seattle alongside such greats as Psycho, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, Ringu, etc created an expectation in me that just didn’t get fulfilled. It was enjoyable to watch, just not truly memorable. [Mental note: If I had seen this one thirty years ago as a young child, would the images have embedded themselves in my subconscious, leaving me salivating over a chance to finally watch the movie as a conscious adult?]
[Mental reply: I have no idea. For all I know, I did see it as a young child and completely forgot about it… It’s possible.]
SPOILERS ahead – but the movie is thirty years old, so if you haven’t seen by now, I figure you may as well hear the ending:
Anywho, on to Are You In The House Alone, which was a complete mess. Again, I actually enjoyed watching this one (which says something about my level of easy-to-please-ness), but from a critical point of view, what the hell was this? A horror movie that turns halfway through into a made for TV coming of age slash small town wealthy family misfit son gets away with everything 1970’s style woman’s lib “the system isn’t right” social commentary
Wait, where was I? Oh yeah, Are You In The House Alone. Which ultimately was about a “small town wealthy family misfit son” type who gets away with rape. Which is dead wrong. Why they started this film in a horror genre style is beyond me if they had no intention of making a horror film – maybe they were trying to get a target audience to listen to a message they otherwise wouldn’t go see a movie to listen to? I don’t know. I don’t really care at this point, but it was a strange enough journey through this to warrant mentioning it. I was expecting ’70s horror complete with naked hippies and weird religious undertones. I got … I don’t know what the hell I got. Suffering caused by my desire I guess.
Back to the present (and therefor back to the past) – Ender’s Game – a Sci-Fi revisioning of the Punic Wars. I didn’t read the novel, so I don’t have that context, but the film was good. Entertaining emotionally as well as intellectually, forcing the viewer to confront situations with no good solutions. Now this is a trip worth taking – whether you are always consciously aware of them or not, you make decisions when you’re confronted with choices. When the choices are all horrible, you learn something about yourself.