Wednesday, August 18, 2010

The Medusa Touch (1978)

One thing is for sure, The Medusa Touch isn’t the fastest boat in the harbour! Jack Gold’s supernatural thriller is very British and takes it’s time to tell the story. Slowly building up to a spectacular climax, for those that can stand the slow pacing and the sometimes hard to understand accents. I first read about it on a comic book, a comic-version of the disaster movie Meteor. It was a list of disaster movies that didn’t incorporate natural disasters, stuff that happens every day, and since then I’ve always wanted to see it.

The controversial author John Morlar (Richard Burton) sits and watch when the latest space expedition plunges into disaster live on TV. His eyes are focused on the screen and he don’t notice that someone, dressed in a coat, sneaks into his apartment. Moments later his clubbed to death – at least that’s what the police thinks at first, but he’s in a coma.

When investigating the crime, French inspector Brunel (Lino Ventura), finds that Morlar has been going to a doctor, Zonfeld (Lee Remick). Morlar was convinced that he only with his mind could create disasters and death, from the death of his parents and up to the latest space expedition.

The problem is that Morlar isn’t dead yet, and his brain is full of energy… and he’s gonna create even more death and destruction before his dies completely…

Told in flashbacks, The Medusa Touch, is mostly a masterful movie, a great seventies thriller with some pacing issues. Jack Gold tries to melt together the past and present with editing, but it’s only works in part. This way of telling a story, in a movie at least, slows it down and it would have been more interesting to see it told in the correct order. But if you, like me, can live with that, this is a great movie with a lot of wonderful British character actors and two very spectacular scenes of destruction.

Richard Burton has a small part, but still dominates the whole movie with his presence. Lee Remick (which I think is the only American actor in the whole movie) is excellent as usual, but has quite little to do. Lino Ventura is an odd choice, but together with character actors like Derek Jacobi, Jeremy Brett, Harry Andrews and Michael Hordern he’s a great addition to this great cast of characters.

Like all supernatural thrillers of rank in the seventies (The Omen-movies, Holocaust 2000, The Legacy, later even The Awakening) this also has its share of creative deaths. Most of them are off screen and only told about, but the few we see is magnificent. From the death of his parents – pushed by a car outside a cliff to the amazing miniature work when a jumbo is crashing into a skyscraper in the middle of London! The highlight is of course when the cathedral crumbles down to nothing, which is both made with physical effects inside the cathedral and miniature-work. Anyway, everything in this scene looks stunning and very realistic.

A bit stiff and British, but a very classy thriller with amazing effects and great acting. Give it a try!

1 comment:

dfordoom said...

I saw this movie recently and was very pleasantly surprised by it. You're right about Burton dominating the movie - he's terrific.