Saturday, October 27, 2007

The October Ordeal Day 27: Warlock Moon

October 27th: Warlock Moon (1975)

The first shot in Warlock Moon looks like the coverage to a scene that belongs in the final reel of some other horror film. A young woman walks around a creepy old house with a candle, looking for her boyfriend. Suddenly, a man with an axe appears, and the title card comes up. The nameless, identity-less "First Girl" is a slasher staple, but not enough is done to indicate that this is what's going on until the end of this sequence.

Our real heroine is Jenny (played by future TV star Laurie Walters), a college student with the world's worst fashion sense (absurd red bell-bottoms, floral ponchos). Her new friend John (Joe Spano, one of the ugliest leading men ever) convinces her to leave her studies for a late-afternoon drive into the country. After the two get lost, they come upon what looks like an abandoned old spa, and decide to check it out. Of course, the spa is not abandoned, and a crew of Texas Chainsaw-lite Satan worshipping cannibals live there, with a creepy old crone of a matriarch as their leader (Edna MacAfee as Agnes Abercrombi). This initial visit goes on far too long. Most scenes in Warlock Moon last too long, in fact. There are too few set-pieces, and what the filmmakers had to work with, they overworked.

It becomes obvious that John is in fact a member of Mama Abercrombi's clan. The bringing-in of an outsider is of course a classic horror trope, from Horror Hotel to Wicker Man (both Christopher Lee films, come to think of it). The luring here takes up the entire arc of the film. This is a slow paced film; an hour of build up in an hour and twenty minute film is far too much.

The film's real saving grace is its quite interesting finish. In a sequence I haven't seen, the end credits run over the film as its still cooking. In fact, the climax comes after the credits have scrolled, and for several more minutes the film runs past this traditional end cap. If only the rest of the film was so daring. Very slight, Warlock Moon, but still watchable. In a genre of low, low lows, sometimes "just average" will make for a pleasurable viewing. Warlock Moon actually went into production before Texas Chainsaw Massacre, but the plots are quite similar. Yet, there's a good reason that Chainsaw is still talked about, and this film is all but forgotten. Joe Bob Briggs and Media Blasters haven't forgotten however, and the recent DVD re-release is a nicely packaged and presented product, with some interesting bonus materials. Completists only.

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