Thursday, March 25, 2010

Månguden (1988)

In 1988 Jonas Cornells Månguden was shown on Swedish public television and left scars in many young views or many, many years. The movie itself was only shown twice that year, and until now it's been surrounded my legends and rumours. But finally, it's out on DVD. Personally I've been searching for it during many years. In 2005 I was very close to get a copy from composer Jan Tolf, but he died during our mail conversation and I just felt that it was pointless to search anymore. But now it's out and it was interesting to see if it was as scary as I remember it...

Tomas Laustiola is John Vinge, a Swedish-Finnish cop that's responsible to catch a brutal serial killer. This unknown maniac slaughters innocent families out camping, with a HUGE machete. He or she is also dressed in a black robe and a creepy African mask, the mask of the Moon God. To really mess up the minds of the police the killer films his evil deeds and let the police have it as a gift.

Vinge, an alcoholic and a victim of an abusive father - also an ex-cop, is tired of being a nobody. He continues the investigation together with Erland Salander (Per Myrberg), a profiler who has retired because of a nervous breakdown. Together they find that more and more clues leads to the Ethnographic Museum where two mysterious researchers work, a woman that attracts Vinge's attention and the creepy Andreas Gregor (the always f**king brilliant Heinz Hopf). But more life's are at stake, and the killer is getting more and more brutal...



... and no, it's not nearly as scary as I remember it! But this is still a really great little thriller which has no connections at all with the typical slasher, It has more nods to the Italian giallo and American thriller actually. The pace is quite slow, but filled with tension and mostly good and great acting. The dialogue can, as usual with Swedish productions, be a bit stiff - but the actors do their best and they all feel convincing. It also looks great and has some creative visual touches that very few other Swedish TV-productions have. Jonas Cornell did a very fine job here.

As a movie made for Swedish television this is unique in many ways. First of all, it dares to be commercial with some brilliant set pieces and spectacular backstories. The red herrings are shameless and honest, and the concept with lost and found footage works extremely well. It's not only the footage that the killer leaves (which is really eerie), there's also another surprise later on in the movie with reminds me of Cannibal Holocaust of all movies! Yeah, it’s a long shot – but I’m sure you know what I mean when you see it. As a Swedish production from this time is also quite violent, but compared to what we see today - or earlier in other countries cinema - it's weak. It has one graphic murder though, and some brutal shots of the killer dragging people out from their tents and whacking them with a machete.






It starts of as a normal Scandinavian cop-movie, but evolves into something more colourful and odd. It has hidden documents, silent movies, murders, old artifacts, a childhood-trauma worthy of Dario Argento, a masked killer with black gloves and even a supernatural touch which I love. It's been hyped over the years for being scary, but it's just more than scary: It's a damn fine little TV-movie which holds your interest from the beginning to the end.

I was surprised to see how good it was after all these year, and to be honest - I prefer this one before all these trillion fucking boring Beck, Wallander and Van Veeteren-movies that being produced every day. Here's a movie that borrows heavily from the European genre cinema and feels proud of that. For once there’s a Swedish movie that could be called international and actually wants to do something with a tired genre.

After all these years, Månguden still delivers.

9 comments:

raculfright_13 said...

I been wanting to see this movie since I read about it on your blog back when you announced it was being released for the first time in years. Where did you buy your copy btw? I've done searches online and can't find nothing :(

Ninja Dixon said...

raculfright_13: It's easy to find everywhere in swedish online shops, but I don't think any of them ships overseas. Keep an eye on Subdvd.com - if they get it they can ship it to wherever you live!

Jack J said...

Afaik it's only got Swedish subtitles though. Scandinavians outside of Sweden can get it from CDON. I recommend they get DE DØDES TJERN while they're at it as well! It's one of the best Scandinavian horror movies. (and it's subbed in English)

Ninja Dixon said...

Thanks Jack for the remind, I need to order De Dödas Tjärn omgående!

Anonymous said...

Just watched Månguden for the first time, and i liked it very much. I would call it a thriller and nothing else. But it must have been remarkable to watch something like this on SVT in the late eighties. And things that scared you when you were younger often gets a little bleak when you get older doesn´t it?

Ninja Dixon said...

Yes, I agree. But I guess our minds where a little bit more sensitive then :) I still think it's a great little movie, so I hope more people see it like that too.

CiNEZiLLA said...

Sheats man. I remember seeing this on the tube and being completely freaked out by it, as that wasn't the sort of stuff we normaly got on telly over here.

looks like I'll be having to pick this one up next time I'm down town.

Jack J said...

18 months later and I finally get my shit together and order the damn film, haha. I'm getting it from cdon and I also ordered Ole Bornedal's FRI OS FRA DEN ONDE which stars Aqua-Lene! xD

Jack J said...

A damn fine movie! During the first 20 minutes I was annoyed because of the "cop on the edge" cliches but after that it suddenly turned and became much more.