Thursday, July 22, 2010

Specters (1987)

You can say a lot of bad things about Marcello Avallone's Specters, but it's virtually impossible to say it looks bad. I would even consider Marcello Avallone a very decent director with a clear and intelligent view how to create atmosphere and cool set-pieces. The main problem is the script, which has to much clichés and never raise above the rest of the Italian horror movies from the eighties. Donald Pleasence plays some archology professor (and no, I refuse to "joke" about the quality of movies he made during the last years of his career - god damn, the man had to survive and it's not much room for actors like him even today) who together with his students find an old crypt. In this crypt a demon or maybe even Satan himself lives (I didn't bother enough to hear any explanation), and starts killing them off one by one.

That's all. But to understand why this is a fun movie you'll have to understand that only two things can make a movie good:

1. Crypts, tombs and catacombs.
2. There's a real man-in-suit monster in the movie.

It also has a tribute both to Creature from the Black Lagoon and Nosferatu and special effects make-up by Sergio Stivaletti! There's really nothing more with the movie, it's pure eye candy. The cinematography looks gorgeous and the Avallone manages to create a lot of mood and scenes that rivals the best of Italian horror. The gore is sparse, but the little there is works fine. I wonder if this version (the R2UK) of the movie is trimmed? The crushed head looks very fine, but might be a little bit to short to come from an Italian movie.

One important thing that may low budget movies fails at, is to find good locations. Here we have a lot of fine places, both real catacombs and sets. These and the other locations makes the movie looks bigger and more expensive. As you notice, I can't write so much about the story. It's paper thin and easy forgotten, just an (a good one too) excuse to show some nice horror scenes and the danish actress/model Trine Michelsen. She had a short stint in Italian genre cinema with this one, Sergio Bergonzelli's Mercenary Squad and Lamberto Bava's handsome but deadly boring Delirium: Photo of Goia. She died last year after a seven years long battle with cancer. She also starred in Lars Von Trier's The Idiots. I like that movie, but I can't remember her in it - I'll watch it again as soon as possible.

I really like Specters, even if it never will change the world... or anything else. It's just a quite slow movie with great set-pieces and some gore that needs a better DVD-release. I doubt it will sell enough for anyone to release it again, but I hope it someday happens - at least for my sake.


David A. Zuzelo said...

I'm with you sir...I really liked this film as well!

Anonymous said...

Gonna check this movie out. By the way, Donald Pleasence was a very good actor, but as you say, there were/are not much room for that kind of actors. Will always remember him from Halloween and Watch out we´re mad.

CiNEZiLLA said...

Right on! This one is pure fun. Ages since I last saw it but holds fond memories.