Tuesday 28 February 2012

Dagon (2001)

HP Lovecraft adaptations aren’t that easy to do. One needs more than a few rubbery tentacles and a ‘Yog Sothoth’ thrown around here and there to evoke HPL’s sense of other-worldly dread. It’s even more difficult to get that right and make your subject matter sexy in places as well. HPL’s writings weren’t exactly known for their throbbing eroticism, and while purists may throw up their hands in horror one of the reasons I like Stuart Gordon’s and Dennis Paoli’s approach to the material is that they have a fine sense of the sexy as well as the horrific. Not that it always works - FROM BEYOND, their follow-up to the wonderful REANIMATOR, was a bit of a misfire, but thankfully a few years later all went very well indeed with DAGON. In some ways that shouldn’t be surprising, as their version of HPL’s THE SHADOW OVER INNSMOUTH had been on the cards for years, first with Charles Band’s Empire Pictures before languishing in development hell for so long by the time it appeared under this new title many fans had all but forgotten about it. Thankfully DAGON was worth the wait. It’s hardly a faithful adaptation but its depiction of some standard Lovecraftian tropes (the rotting fishing village, the ever-present motif of water, sunken ruins leading to even deeper horrors) are among the best ever put on film. I’ve always loved DAGON, not least because it always reminds me of holidays in Wales when I was a lad, when it was always raining and the soaked narrow streets of whatever God-forsaken village we had ended up in this time were bereft of all but the gloomiest of locals. My imagination didn’t have to do much to put me in horror movie territory.
In fact it’s partly because Gordon et al have got the atmosphere nailed so perfectly that I’m willing to forgive the sometimes cheap-looking digital effects and the sometimes rubbery-looking tentacles. The fact that said tentacles are often seen in association with Macarena Gomez (probably the sexiest high priestess in movies for many a year) or clutching at a naked Raquel Merono (who essays the helpless struggling victim role very nicely) while she’s suspended in chains over a pit probably helps. A lot. When not causing or being in peril both these actresses acquit themselves admirably otherwise as well, and Gomez in particular should have been used in more horror pictures (apart from an appearance in TO LET from the TV series PELICULAS PARA NO DORMIR I’ve not seen her in anything else). The actors fare a little less well but Ezra Godden is very good in the lead as the doomed Paul Marsh. Francisco Rabal in his last movie role is old Ezequiel and sadly despite numerous viewings of DAGON I still have to switch the subtitles on when it’s his turn to speak.
  Special effects are plentiful and may well be a bit rubbery but thankfully some skilful editing dwells more on the suspense of the various chase sequences rather than the monsters who are doing the chasing. Finally, Carlos Cases’ music score is really rather good and does a much better job of encapsulating Lovecraft for me than any number of avant-garde electronic dub artists I’ve had the misfortune to experience in the last couple of years. Sadly it’s not available on disc, and it should be.
DAGON is a great piece of low-budget horror cinema, filmed in Spain with a cast of extras who for the most part look as if they were born to play their roles. Perhaps the biggest shame is that Gordon et al didn’t get to do more of this kind of thing with the same crew, and possibly even the same cast. I for one would have loved to see Macarena presiding over a Cthulhu cult At the Mountains of Madness.

Friday 24 February 2012

Bluebeard (1972)

Just when I think I’ve seen all the flamboyant, daft, naked pulchritude-filled European horrors of the 1970s something like this comes along to prove me wrong. Of course at first glance BLUEBEARD doesn’t look as if it’s going to be a piece of trash. Produced by Pierre Spengler and the Salkinds just before their blindingly good adaptations of THE THREE MUSKETEERS & THE FOUR MUSKETEERS, starring Richard Burton and Raquel Welch, and with music by Ennio Morricone, the film’s pedigree doesn’t suggest the pile of daft outrageous old rubbish that it actually is. But just scrape beneath the surface and we see the cast also includes Sybil Danning (who was one of the elements that made Roger Corman’s BATTLE BEYOND THE STARS memorable before appearing in HOWLING II and numerous women-in-prison flicks), Agostina Belli (from Italian OMEN rip off HOLOCAUST 2000) and Karin Schubert (COLD EYES OF FEAR, BLACK EMANUELLE, etc etc ad nudity nauseum). But the real secret as to where this film is coming from lies with its director. For some reason I thought Edward Dmytryk was a director of lavish big-budget old-style Hollywood pictures. Actually he’s the man who gave us Universal’s CAPTIVE WILD WOMAN and various other lunatic wastes of time for those so inclined. 
And if there’s a better phrase to describe BLUEBEARD than a lunatic waste of time I can’t think of it at the moment. Richard Burton gets out of his biplane, takes off his cunning concealing leather mask to reveal...a blue beard! Cue the titles in case we didn’t quite get that. There’s some nonsense about his face being mutilated during the war but as this is mixed in with something about how much his beard tickles it’s all a bit confusing. Dear old Richard is very rich Kurt von Sepper, who explains all this beardy stuff to Karin Schubert just before marrying her. For reasons that aren’t quite clear Karin dies in a hunting accident when Richard accidentally points his gun at her and shoots her. Retiring to play his massive organ while his dog wanders in to the most inappropriate introductory music for a canine in movie history, we then flash forward unannounced to Joey Heatherton’s awful dance act. Bewitched by her dainty clodhopping in red high heels Richard is soon inviting her back to his castle, marrying her and giving her surreptitious glimpses of his old serving woman Martha brushing the hair of the corpse of his dead mother before pushing Martha down the stairs. Joey has a nervous breakdown. Richard goes to Vienna, leaving her the keys to his castle but saying that on no account must she use the gold one. That’s because it opens a secret chamber where the preserved naked bodies of his former wives are kept. Unfortunately his naughty latest wife opens Pandora’s Box, which all proves to be a trap for her unwary self. Because he loves her more than any of his other wives Richard says that before he kills her he’s going to tell her all about why he did all of the other wives in. We’re about halfway through this two hour film now and the series of flashbacks that now ensue are the excuse for a string of cameos from various Euro-actresses who get done in by Richard in a number of silly ways including an eagle, a giant elephant tusk, being flogged and then drowned in wine, and being nailed inside a coffin. Most of them manage to end up naked before they die, except for Raquel Welch, probably more because it was in her contract than because she plays a nun in a series of increasingly revealing outfits. 
The whole thing is rounded off with Richard turning out to be impotent, and before you can say ‘so why did you marry all those sexy women if that was the problem’ he’s locked Joey in his custom-made freezer and gets himself shot by an assassin he upset as a child earlier in the film.
The big problem with BLUEBEARD is not that it’s daft, but that it isn’t daft enough. The first twenty minutes or so are a triumph of ludicrous dialogue, beautiful women and opulent sets, but this really needed a Robert Fuest or someone similarly mad to bring it all off. But the film isn’t an entire dead loss by any means, and any movie that has Richard Burton putting several bullets into a stuffed owl he has turned into the most bizarre taxidermical alarm clock so it won’t frighten his wife deserves an albeit very tiny place in cinema history.

Tuesday 21 February 2012

Captive Wild Woman (1943)

Apparently conceived as Universal’s answer to RKO’s CAT PEOPLE (!!!!), whereas Val Lewton and his team put together an elegant tale with as much care as could be lavished on a B picture, CAPTIVE WILD WOMAN lives up to its less than subtle title by turning out to be something written by people who Don’t Care At All, and don’t seem to be in the slightest bit embarrassed about it. I love CAT PEOPLE (the 1942 version anyway) but don’t get me wrong – I loved this as well, but for an entirely different set of reasons which I hope will soon become apparent.
Circus animal tamer Fred Mason return from some ludicrous round the world trip where he seems to have done his best to bring about some kind of global extinction plan, filling his ship with lions, tigers, and a man in a gorilla suit. Meanwhile Evelyn Ankers has taken her friend Dorothy to the gloomiest, most windswept, and absolute bestest sanatorium I have seen in movies in a long while. And what’s even better is that it’s run by the utterly barking mad glandular specialist Dr Sigmund Walters (John Carradine) who, throwing his patient’s welfare to the wind (quite possibly the one that’s blowing outside) smokes throughout his entire consultation with her. Somehow Carradine realises that a man in a gorilla suit is just what he needs for his Experiments to Benefit Mankind. ‘You and I are very alike,’ he tells circus performer Ankers, ‘You use animals to entertain people, I do experiments on them.’ This is the cue for the lead in to a totally bonkers scenario by which he kidnaps the gorilla, hooks it up to Dorothy, and then when his nurse objects he transplants her brain into the gorilla (I think).
And then the gorilla turns into a lady called Paula. Whom Carradine then thinks it would be a good idea to take to the circus (??) where she has an uncanny ability to scare the crap out of the lions and tigers when Fred’s not abusing them in interminable stock footage that goes on for ages.
Now that we’re about 45 minutes into this hour long film the setup is finally over with so we can get on with the plot. Paula loves Fred, sees him in a clinch with Evelyn and turns brown, then black, then hairy, and then goes off to get Evelyn. Cue one slightly scary scene, then Paula’s back with Dr Carradine and still very hairy indeed as he shouts ‘They’ll put you in the electric chair!’ to which she responds with a grunt. The ending is bloody brilliant, with Paula turning back into a man in a gorilla suit, killing Carradine and then executing the most hilarious sideways fall in response to a shot from a policeman’s gun I have ever seen a man in a gorilla suit manage.
CAPTIVE WILD WOMAN is as shameless a load of old 1940s rubbish as one could possibly hope to encounter. Apparently its sequels, JUNGLE WOMAN and JUNGLE CAPTIVE are even worse but sadly neither appear to be on DVD at the moment for me to make up my own mind.

Saturday 18 February 2012

[Rec] (2007)

While I'm a fan of the zombie movies of George Romero (and in particular of DAY OF THE DEAD), and while Stuart Gordon's REANIMATOR is one of my all-time favourites, it's European zombie horrors that I've found properly frightening and disturbing. Fulci's quartet (ZOMBI 2, CITY OF THE LIVING DEAD, THE BEYOND, HOUSE BY THE CEMETERY) and Danny Boyle's 28 DAYS LATER all contain sequences that have had me on the edge of my seat, the latter because I found the fast-moving Rage virus victims absolutely terrifying. But out of all of these movies, Jaume Balaguero and Paco Plaza's [REC] is the one I like the most. It's the best paced, the scariest, the most kinetic and the one that still leaves me shaking, even though I've now seen it several times. Taking the format of footage filmed for a documentary about a night in the life of the local fire service, [REC]'s narrative is told entirely from the point of view of Pablo, the cameraman whom we see only very intermittently, and who somehow manages to keep filming under the direst of circumstances. In this respect [REC] is a little bit like Ruggero Deodato's CANNIBAL HOLOCAUST but without the breaks from the filmed footage, and mercifully free of the mean-spiritedness. Manuela Velasco is the pretty presenter (apparently her real job on Spanish TV) who does her best to provide a running commentary of events when the team gets called to a residential block where an old lady is apparently trapped in her flat. Once the team are inside the building and have discovered the woman covered in blood and keen to chew on anyone who comes within biting distance, the building is sealed by the authorities. Initially there is no explanation as to what is going on and the film becomes extraordinarily tense as more and more people succumb to the zombie plague that has been unleashed. The brief running time of less than eighty minutes means that once the action begins the only time the film truly pauses for breath is close to the end, and even that is just so something even more terrifyingly horrible than what we've already seen can appear. In fact the climax almost tops everything that has gone before as the film veers off into deliciously ambiguous territory regarding the cause of the disaster, and the ending is anything but comforting. [REC] 2, this film's direct continuation, ran the risk of diminishing the impact of the first because by necessity the questions raised had to be addressed to some degree. It's interesting to note that [REC 3], due for release soon, takes a different angle on the material with the zombie plague being unleashed at a wedding. One of the reasons that [REC] works so well is because it relays superbly to the viewer the sheer frenetic anarchy of what is taking place. Hopefully [REC] 3 will use its setting to provide another dose of fast-moving terrifying outrageousness to match the original. 

Tuesday 14 February 2012

Lizard in a Woman's Skin (1971)

Before he became the idol of many a horror fan (and apparently the saviour of the  depressed Italian film industry in 1979) with ZOMBI 2, Lucio Fulci had carved a career for himself making all kinds of movies, including historical dramas (BEATRICE CENCI / PERVERSION STORY, about the Catholic church in 16th century Italy), comedies (THE EROTICIST / THE SENATOR LIKES WOMEN...DESPITE APPEARANCES AND PROVIDED THE NATION DOESN’T KNOW, about a senator with a Benny Hill-like uncontrollable urge to grab ladies’ bottoms) and giallos, of which LIZARD IN A WOMAN’S SKIN is one. 
After some groovy psychedelic music / atonal warped nonsense we launch straight into a weird acid dream featuring two naked ladies cavorting on bed while being watched by two blind hippies. One of the women, the rather characterless Florinda Bolkan, stabs the other three times and then gets all panicky before waking up in her psychiatrist's office to tell him all about that and a bit we've just seen where she runs down a railway carriage corridor filled with naked people. Rather than explain that she's in an Italian exploitation film, the psychiatrist tells her it's all because, family girl that she is, she's jealous of the girl who lives upstairs and her wild party lifestyle. Anyway, when the girl in question turns up actually dead, that's the cue for badly whistling and even more badly dubbed Stanley Baker (the film's in Italian, you see) to take on the case along with sidekick Alberto de Mendoza who could possibly be an alien who crash landed here at the beginning of time...oh sorry that's his role in HORROR EXPRESS in which the psychiatrist from this also happens to appear. Euro-horrors are sometimes their own blur of sleazy confusion that obviate the need for mind bending drugs, and how glad we should be for that. 
Anyway, back to the 'plot'. because there really isn't any. Flo's father is Leo Genn from Pete Walker’s DIE SCREAMING MARIANNE who gets so fed up with the nonsensical pointless story and the terrible way his own dubbing is working out that he kills himself. The pretty girl from Mario Bava’s FIVE DOLLS FOR AN AUGUST MOON gets her throat slashed, and despite Flo's claims the police continually reassure her that 'there are no red-haired hippies in the building'. They organise a hunt for one who eventually reveals the meaning of the title before they 'give him a lot of drugs and he confesses'. Here at the House of Mortal Cinema we’ve noticed a trend in the bizarrely titled giallos of the early seventies in that the title seems to have to be explained as late in the proceedings and bear as little relevance to the story as possible. Thus while Dario Argento can just about get away with THE BIRD WITH CRYSTAL PLUMAGE (late but relevant if absurd) and FOUR FLIES ON GREY VELVET (also late and daft but outweighed by the daft way in which said explanation is then used to identify the killer) Lucio Fulci wins for sheer complete and utter irrelevance with this and also with DON”T TORTURE A DUCKLING (of which more another time I’m sure).
LIZARD IN A WOMAN’S SKIN, despite its cracking title, is probably the least of Fulci’s giallos. The ending is rubbish, the plot is pointless, Florinda is terrible, both as an actress and a character, and there's not a drop of J&B to be seen. Despite that, the music score by Ennio Morricone is really pretty good, and if nothing else it gave the movie posters artists around the world an opportunity to go completely crazy, as evidenced by some of the work on display here. Despite the criticisms this isn’t at all bad if one is yearning for a dose of early seventies daftness, and probably a better bet than a film about a politician’s bottom-pinching antics.

Saturday 11 February 2012

The Frozen Dead (1966)

I had wanted to see THE FROZEN DEAD ever since the ten year old JLP bought Alan Frank’s horror film book ‘Monsters and Vampires’ back in the 1970s and thrilled to the pictures of Nazis in the freezer and that weird wired-up head on a table. Cobbled together incredibly cheaply, featuring some of the worst acting to grace a 1960s British horror picture, and set in a country house that must have been going spare for a weekend, the movie starts off with the worst day-for-night photography I have ever seen (which must have been filmed on the sunniest day of the year). Dana Andrews stars as mad scientist Dr Norberg, who is trying to thaw out Nazi soldiers frozen at the end of the second world war, all while still wearing their uniforms, presumably because the only thing worse than a Nazi is a nude Nazi. Unfortunately so far his attempts have been unsuccessful and have resulted in little more than vegetables. One Nazi soldier does nothing but repetitively bounce an imaginary ball, one does nothing but comb his hair all day, and one is Edward Fox. Herbert J Leder’s directorial technique tends towards covering everything in master shots and he was obviously a graduate of the ‘one take’ school of film-making. The sound isn’t very good either, which is surprising considering the boom mike has been brought so close to the actors in some scenes that you can actually see it. In amongst all this there’s some really weird imagery that for fans of this kind of thing (and we all know who we are) that more than makes up for any incompetence. There’s a wall of severed arms that can still move, a mysterious old lady in the village who wears a rubber mask, and best of all that severed head of a green-faced girl kept in a box with her brain exposed and pulsating. Then of course there’s the kind of dialogue that would have brought a tear to the eye of Ed Wood. “That head will destroy us all!” “It can’t do that – it’s only a head.” Or “He calls himself Mr Smith but with that strong German accent of his you’d think he should really call himself Mr Schmidt”. But best of all are the terrible German accents: “Zey vill zink it voz an accident! Zey do not know he pushed ze flower pot!” Actors stumble over their lines, Dana goes to put his glass down before the butler gets there with the tray for him to put it on, and the ending is so completely bonkers, with the severed head taking control of the wall of arms, that it has to be seen to be believed. Top it all off with a final shot that’s genuinely unnerving and a very very strange way to end a mid-60s horror film and THE FROZEN DEAD, when paired with its original cofeature IT! wins hands down as the most barkingly insane double bill I’ve ever had the pleasure of spending close to thirty years of my life tracking down.

Wednesday 8 February 2012

Inferno (1980)

It may be because of the paucity of visually imaginative genre product these days, or possibly just because I'm getting old, but as the years go by Inferno, Dario Argento's 1980 follow up to his ground-breaking nightmare on celluloid SUSPIRIA, just seems to get better and better. The film was a bit of a financial disaster on its original release - as far as I'm aware it played a week in London cinemas and then got pulled without being given a chance in the provinces. It fared even worse in the US, not getting a theatrical release at all because Fox boss at the time Sherry Lansing thought the violence too extreme. Presumably this must have been just before Paramount made history by being the first major motion picture company to release the independent blood-splattered horror extravaganza that was Sean Cunningham's FRIDAY THE 13th. 
But back to Inferno, a film with so many stunning visual images and sequences that you're almost completely distracted from the story, which according to Argento on the accompanying documentary on the Arrow Films DVD is intended to raise questions and provide no answers - in the same way an alchemist does. There's something strangely reassuring about this explanation making about as much sense as the film he's talking about. Besides, we all know by now that these films aren't meant to make sense, at least not in the conventional way. Instead we just need to sit back and let ourselves be taken through a bizarre dreamlike world filled with imagery no-one else can do quite like Argento used to be able to. 
       The underwater room sequence is still a marvel, as are the scenes in the library. The other-worldly blue and pink lighting scheme that permeates most of the scenes means we're constantly being reminded that we are not in the real world. The actors are either eccentrically interesting (Sacha Pitoeff and Feodor Chaliapin) or leading man good looking but ineffectual (Leigh McCloskey and Gabriel Lavia, with Lavia getting a knife in his throat just for being a gentleman). The actresses, on the other hand are a different matter. Eleonora Giorgi is gorgeous but amazingly is reduced to looking merely ordinary next to the scarily overbearing sexiness of Ania Pieroni. Irene Miracle looks just as good underwater as out of it and Daria Nicolodi is probably at her prettiest and most vulnerable here. Argento has freely admitted that his male characters tend to be weak, and while accusations of misogynism have been levelled at him he certainly uses INFERNO to show off his actresses to their best advantage. The music's great as well, with Argento being absolutely right to get Keith Emerson to provide music that wasn't imitative of Goblin. Mater Tenebrarum is a mini-masterpiece but Emerson's flamboyant riffs and elegant main title music are all quite splendid. 
Perhaps the greatest delight I've found with INFERNO is that even on a very recent viewing I was able to see things I hadn't noticed before. In fact the film still feels fresh even though it's over thirty years since it was made, and since then there has been little to compare with it. Like a lot of Argento's work there's not much in the way of humour on display here, which is probably just as well as when he tried to be funny it often fell flat, as evidenced in FOUR FLIES ON GREY VELVET. However, when I learned that the sequence at the end where Veronica Lazar's Mater Tenebrarum crashes through the mirror was apparently orchestrated by Mario Bava, I like to think that with that director's mischievous sense of humour Bava might have been tempted to place a bottle of B&J in the background.

Sunday 5 February 2012

The Cheat (1931)

The release of the pre-Hays Code ‘Forbidden Hollywood’ DVD box sets has meant the chance to see some previously unheard-of gems (by me anyway) from the era before various religious and financial institutions caused the imposition of restrictions on what was deemed ‘inappropriate material’ to put on film during the 1930s and 1940s in Hollywood. The Hays Code and its effect on horror cinema is worthy of a long essay in itself but for now let’s concentrate on THE CHEAT.
Tallulah Bankhead (who I had previously seen only in Hammer’s DIE, DIE MY DARLING and while much younger here definitely comes across as someone more worldly wise, cynical and scary than her age at the time ought to have suggested) plays Elsa Carlyle, who is happily married to Jeffrey (Harvey Stephens, obviously not the one from THE OMEN) but has a problem. She’s addicted to gambling and is utterly hopeless at it. 
       Losing $10 000 one night at the turn of a card, the next day she is entrusted with the $13 000 plus that the ladies’ Milk Fund Charity (whatever that might be) has managed to raise to help starving orphans. Rather than simply use it to pay off her debt she invests $10 000 of that in something really very hopeless indeed, only finding out that she has lost everything when she is attending an orientally themed fancy dress party the following evening. There she is, on the phone, wearing a hat that’s ten times bigger than her head and about one thousand times smaller than her chances of her husband forgiving her if he finds out how much money she’s managed to lose. 
       Luckily for absolutely no-one in this film at all she has already met rich Hardy Livingstone (Irving Pichel, looking a lot healthier here than he would in a couple of years’ time as Gloria Holden’s henchman Sandor in Universal’s DRACULA’S DAUGHTER). Hardy loves all things oriental, including clothes, servants, and dolls, of which he has a collection locked in a cupboard to remind him of past lovers. He shows Tallulah these in a scene reminiscent of the pulp horror stories of the time. Each doll has been branded with his mark to show he owns them. He offers to give Tallulah a cheque to help her with her debt in return for ‘special favours’ we can all guess the nature of. Tallulah accepts the money but lo and behold lovely, unsuspecting, ever forgiving hubby has paid her debts off for her. She tries to return the cheque but Hardy’s not happy and just to prove it he burns his mark into her chest with the branding iron he has handily heating up in the brazier in his living room. Understandably upset at this Tallulah shoots him just as Jeffrey arrives to take the rap as the servants come running in.
       The rest of the movie’s short running time is taken up with the court case. Hardy has only been wounded and tries to discredit Jeffrey but Tallulah breaks down in front of everyone and confesses which somehow makes everything all right (??) and the film ends with the happy couple tucking into no doubt another outrageously expensive meal that the average Depression-suffering moviegoer  of the time could probably ill afford to buy but could just about pay to look at.
For a movie made in the early 1930s THE CHEAT doesn’t feel that dated at all. Its attitude to the subject matter is deliciously lurid and the branding scene is quite surprising. Not all of the movies in the box set this is a part of are quite as rewarding but anyone interested in Hollywood’s treatment of some pretty lurid and taboo subjects before its hands were tied certainly won’t feel cheated by this.

Thursday 2 February 2012

Intruders (2012)

A subtle, restrained, and really rather decent little Spanish horror picture that has been fortunate enough to get multiplex distribution in the UK, INTRUDERS has received mixed reviews in general and one very poor and inappropriate review which gives away an important twist in particular (enormous injurious slap on wrist Philip French of The Observer), all of which has encouraged me to write a few words in its defence.
Spanish in all but location and its main stars, the film begins in England with the story of construction site manager Clive Owen, whose daughter Mia has just turned twelve. Climbing a tree at her grandparents’ house in the country Mia finds an old wooden box hidden in a hole deep inside the trunk. The box contains an old crumpled piece of paper on which has been written the tale of a ghostly creature who wants nothing more than to steal a child’s face to take the place of its own blank visage. Mia copies the story out and presents it as her own at school. As the tale begins by describing how you have to say the monster’s name to wake him up it’s perhaps not surprising that before long the creature is appearing in her bedroom, with Clive seeing it as well and doing his best to fight it off. When nothing shows up on the security monitors Clive has installed it’s time for the psychiatrists and social workers to accuse Clive and Mia of suffering a dual hallucination, but as the rest of the tale unfolds we horror fans are relieved to learn that that’s not what’s going on at all. To say any more would be to spoil the surprises director Juan Carlos Fresnadillo has in store (are you listening, Mr French?). I haven’t even mentioned yet that the above narrative is intercut with a similar story taking place in Spain, where a young boy is being haunted by the same monster, and his mother has turned to the local Catholic priests to try to exorcise the creature. How these two stories are eventually tied together is extremely satisfying in a movie that is leisurely paced without ever being boring, and never puts a foot wrong where so many movies might have been tempted to veer off into the realm of inappropriate CGI and silly plot developments. The acting is excellent all round and there is an emphasis on the child characters that put me in mind of some of the superior ghostly television dramas for children produced by ITV in the 1970s. Add in some properly scary apparitions in a suburban setting, and INTRUDERS could almost be likened to an episode of SHADOWS with Ramsey Campbell as script editor. In fact the movie is probably as close as the modern horror genre gets to what might be termed ‘quiet horror’. There’s no blood, very little screaming, and only a bit of CGI. But when a scene can culminate in a single handwritten line scrawled on a piece of paper that chills you to the bone you know a film’s working bloody well without the need for any of that. Good old EuroHorror - alive and well and still doing the business. INTRUDERS deserves more success than it’s probably going to get, although the league of Clive Owen fans out there (I was pretty much the only man in the cinema at the screening we attended) may help to do otherwise.