I Saw A Film!

Here we have a George Romero film following up on the heels of cheap zombie success. This is also a very cheaply made film, relying heavily on musical tension and snapping awake from unnerving dream sequences. It is the story of a sad housewife abused by husband, lured by the promises of affection and liquor and homey witchcraft. The little coven she falls into seems more about self-help than anything particularly laden with paranormal phenomena and doesn’t even require dancing naked in the woods or anything else that might make it compelling to look at.

And here is the main problem with the film, it’s not very attractive to look at. It’s mostly a kind of old school, sit-around-with-drinks-in-hand-and-talk film. They do a lot of yakking. I am aware that most of the best things in life did not stray far from this model for most of human history. Ninety percent of Dostoevsky to Hemmingway to John Clellon Holmes are people sitting around drinking and talking. Our bored housewife meets a younger man (though he doesn’t seem *that* much younger) and is soon having a pleasant enough fling. There’s no 9 1/2 Weeks bondage stuff, there’s no midnight rushes through rich people’s homes, there’s nothing beyond the very gentle tasteful adult contact between the two. Eventually though, through what appears to be naught more than suggestion, our bored housewife gets frightened by a nightmare in which she’s attacked in the night. Her fumbling use of the household shotgun becomes focal and the film more or less ends with an accidental shooting. Witchcraft!

Romero once again uses a technique he used in the zombie movie having disembodied voices cynically assess the situation, in this case a kind of classic, “see what them women do to us?” But for the viewer the pay off seems to be gravely lacking. It is a film that seems to suggest that leading a dull life of cocktail parties will eventually lead to anxiety attacks, flirting with clubhouse witches and accidentally blasting a husband through a window.

This is running free on Prime (USA). This is Romero’s third directorial full length feature and there’s not much to recommend it. The second was called There’s Always Vanilla and seems to be about a young man’s relationship with an older woman, which he also explored here, but added a bit of kooky housewife sorority. Good thing he found his zombie calling! Worry not, you will be treated to Donovan’s classic tune!

the blue ray gets the filmography wrong by quite a few years – dawn of the dead was about 7 years after this. Anyone buying this as a hopeful follow-up to the zombie classics had to be mighty disappointed!

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