Thursday, November 11, 2010

Draugasaga (1987)

I’ve been a movie collector for quite a lot of years right now, and there’s always been three titles that someone seen on television and want to see again: Sekmisja, Månguden and Det Spökar i TV-huset. All three was shown on Swedish television and forever imprinted in the minds of Swedish kids. The first one is of course a famous Polish sci-fi comedy, the second one was long gone, but released on DVD in Sweden in 2010. The last one, Draugasaga, a TV-movie from Iceland by Viðar Víkingsson has been a holy grail for some people, including me. I saw it as a kid, and maybe 15 years ago I saw a shoddy bootleg-VHS at a friends place and then it was gone again. Until now.

Everything is set in the TV-house, the public service television of Iceland. A new kid is hired to be a night watchman. The old watchman is going to quit, and is very afraid of the ghost that haunts the place, a red-haired woman who is very dangerous, especially if she have a big sledgehammer in her hands… Our hero is getting more and more obsessed by the ghost-legend, and his relationship with his girlfriend – who works at the TV-house – is getting more strained. At the same time, a red-haired ghost is getting more active with her sledge hammer…

Most of them who saw the movie when it first aired on Swedish television probably only remember the more visual part, the woman with the hair in front of her face, the sledge hammer outside the elevator, the attack outside on the street. Strong visuals, eerie atmosphere and something that was new to most of us. Draugasaga is much more than so, a weird relation-drama, maybe a form of satire over television, a dream-like story about the past meeting the future. I appreciate all of this, but especially when it mixed with some excellent and creepy horror images.

It clearly has a TV-feeling, that special quality that you will recognize from BBC or Scandinavian TV from the same time. This seems to be shot on film though, and has some very nice cinematography and slow but effective editing. The pace is slow, but there is not one boring second in the movie. One bizarre thing leads to something other weird, and goes to horror and then some kitchen-sink drama. A very unique approach to a ghost-movie I would say.

Viðar Víkingsson has crafted a pearl of a movie, something that will grow on the viewer. For some of us it created nightmares for years after, it became a legend – and well deserved so. But does it still hold up? Yes, it does. Very well indeed, and if you are used to TV-productions from the seventies and eighties this is the movie for you – if you can find it of course...


CiNEZiLLA said...

Awesome! Now you made me sad that I haven't seen this one.


Anonymous said...

Wow THANK YOU! I still remember the day when i saw this one on tv. And i have been searching for it for a long time. It was quite impossible to find it since i didn´t know the title. Now i just remember those high heels and the sledgehammer and the elevator =).
Where can i get it?

Ninja Dixon said...

I got it from someone in the business, but I wouldn't be surprised if it will be released sooner or later. So just wait :)

It was fantastic to rewatch it again after so many years!