Director/Screenplay/Producer: Willard Huyck, Gloria Katz
Starring: Marianna Hill, Michael Greer, Elisha Cook Jr . USA. 1h 30m.
Also known under the delightful title of Dead People this early 70’s horror co written, directed and produced by the husband and wife team of Willard Huyck and Gloria Katz is a often overlooked deeply atmospheric and psychotropic horror movie.
Starring Marianna Hill as Arletty who drives to Point Dune, California to visit her estranged father, an artist who has abandoned his home but upon uncovering his diary she finds vital information concerning the horrible nightmare that is consuming the town and ignoring her father’s pleas to NOT look for him, she continues her search and tracks down the owner of a gallery who sells her father’s work, but he vaguely remembers him and informs her about the vibrant “art culture” that thrives in Point Dune. Still searching for information she meets a visiting Portuguese/American aristocrat, Thom (Michael Greer) and his two extremely provocative groupie companions Toni (Joy Bang) and Laura (Anita Ford). Thom interviews Charlie (Elisha Cook Jr) an old eccentric who tells of dark and chilling tales of his mother and “the dark stranger” who will return after a 100 years hiatus, he also informs Arletty that her father is one of “them” and moments later he’s murdered.
In order to live, they will take you one by one
Thom, Toni and Laura are kicked out of their hotel and stay with Arletty in her father’s house and they read through his journal, and things take a sinister turn for everyone. The girls all venture out, one goes the a cinema, the other to a store, but the people in the town are experiencing an hysteria, it starts out withnumb feelings then they cry blood then turn into ghoulish vampire zombie hybrids, and then the desperate need to escape becomes very apparent to Arletty.
… and no one will hear you scream
The film is brilliant and works on many levels, it’s got lots of horror elements in it, the ghoulish town folk, including a striking albino rat eating truck driver, which isn’t something you see everyday. There is a very peculiar atmosphere which is key for the movie, which has undertones of HP Lovecraft, with the talk ofdark creatures coming from the sea and with the addition of lots of creepy church windows and the narrative of a lost parent the films also has a hint of a haunting gothic novel.
Terror you won’t want to remember, in a film you won’t be able to forget.
Not all of the horror is in the look and feel of the movie, there are strong narratives of modern culture, one of Thom’s girls goes into a shop where the “turned” townsfolk are eating the raw meat, and she’s stalked through the isles, suggesting; in a Romero fashion, that consumerizing is the new zombie apocalypse. More social criticism can be read into the effects of the “curse” people feeling numb and going through a hysteria before succumbing to this zombie state, and really living the American nightmare. It’s a really disturbing scene with some unsettling sounds..
In between the horrific scenes that include cannibalism and a girl vomiting insects and general carnage there is a golden story which is never forgotten but also never fully explained which lets the movie down somewhat, while I really do admire a bit of ambiguity the film has the scope to go into a little more depth and while this was approached in few various endings it
R – Blood Beach (1981), Schizoid (1980), The Baby (1973), Night of the living Dead (1968)
L – HP Lovecraft inspired films, Ghoultown Flicks, when a stranger comes to town, Albinism on film