Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Shuttered Room & It [DVD] [2008] [Region 1] [US Import] [NTSC]

It's worrying to think that there must be some mad, straddling genius squirreling deep in the vaults of WB who has the sheer, premeditated temerity to put these two extraordinary films together on one disc.....

'The Shuttered Room' is a nasty thriller exploiting psychiatric disorder: if you have a mad murderous relative, don't bother with doctors - chain her up in a disused mill and get Oliver Reed to be the care-taker! When an unexpected relative and her husband (Carol Lynley and Gig Young) turn up and - surprise, surprise - much unpleasantness sets in motion; sit in a draughty tower and watch Reed roaring in a field.


Dame Flora Robson plays the aunt of the mother of all dysfunctional families and how she got roped in to this insanity is any-ones guess; and Reed - you've never seen a performance like his in your life.
He plays the same kind of thug he did in Joseph Losey's 'These Are The Damned' only with a laughingly hokey American accent: "I like the taste of your wife's ears.." he drawls at Young "what d'you think about that, huh?"
Young thinks he should knock him into the sea off a pier - and does just that.

'The Shuttered Room' is a bad day-dream and nowhere near the sum of its parts (it has a superb score by jazz legend Basil Kirchin and is based on a Lovecraft short), but it's engaging in a brute-force way, nicely unromantic, and never ever boring.

'It' is a stranger film again. Roddy McDowall plays Pimm; a lowly museum curator consistently passed for promotion and shunned romantically by delicious Jill Howarth, but who discovers that a Golem statue the museum has just taken delivery of is actually alive and takes control of it.
Howarth has formed a relationship with smug American (is there any other kind !?) Paul Maxwell, and mad as a wart-hog McDowall uses the Golem to kidnap her; steal his long-dead mothers corpse (and a hearse!) from a funeral parlour and head off to a leafy cemetery - Sexton: Miss Swanson (!!).

On realising the Golem is impervious to bullets and bazooka shells, the resourceful but completely hat-stand British Army decide to nuke it! Maxwell is then involved in some no-thrills-at-all motorcycle action to save juicy Jill, but what of McDowall and the Golem..?

Now, I've seen some bonkers movies in my time and 'It' is right up there with the best of 'em. McDowall is loco, camp and megalomaniacal all at the same time. The Golem is about as scary as sild and the whole bizarre concoction is brewed with no cinematic nous or dramatic charge whatsoever.

You may be wondering then, how this disc gets the 5 hallowed big ones. Well, Ollie Reed's (fresh from his role as a Muslim tyrant in 'Brigand of Kandahar'(!) ) bull-like performance, intensified by his continual racing about bellowing is a treat in itself; as is the barking spectacle of the Royal Artillery nuking Roddy McDowall - so as some-one with an insatiable thirst for schlock, I'm left with little option:
You won't see a more satisfying couple of complete cults anywhere individually - but together...

The guy in the dusty WB dungeon who paired these two is obviously a 'special' person, and either needs immediate promotion to the upper echelons or fitted for a straight-jacket!

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