Wednesday, April 25, 2012
Lake of the Dead (1958)
It's rarely you come across vintage Scandinavian horror movies, which is kind of weird because in both
Norway, Sweden, Denmark
we have a rich tradition of myths and legends and deep, dark forests that
scared the shit out of our ancestors for many years - and still do, believe me.
My fathers grandma died when I was a baby, but she was a witch. A real one.
With dark long hair, a wart on her nose and a strong belief in ghosts, goblins,
trolls and every other supernatural creature living in the nature. I'm one of
those boring atheists that doesn't believe in anything, but I love Scandinavian
ghost stories. Lake of the Dead is one of those and probably the first horror
movie ever made in our neighbouring country Finland . And it's still one of the
Six friends, all intellectuals - writes, critics, doctors - travels far out on the countryside to spend the weekend at a cabin in the woods. The brother of one of them is waiting there - they think. But when they arrive he's gone and when they find his diary it tells a haunting story of a ghost coming back for revenge, a one-legged incestuous man who lures his victims to the nearby bottomless lake. Soon strange things happens and they find traces of a one-legged man around the cabin and they soon understand that their lives are at stake...
Together with Rune Hagberg's ...och efter skymning kommer mörker (
Sweden, 1947) this is probably the best genre
movie made in Scandinavia before the sixties,
even if I hold Arne Mattsson's Lady in Black from 1958 very high. But What
makes Lake of the Dead so damn good is how
simple it is. The story is very straightforward and the script plays on the
ideas of the dangerous darkness that surrounds us in the nature, and the eerie
desolate lake where no one can hear the screams of a drowning victim. The story
balances right between a murder mystery and a supernatural tale and in the end
it's quite open on what really happen. I like that. I hate when it's to clear.
The ending isn't perfect, for me they could have kept it more mysterious, but
what the hell - that was probably as much as the audience could take at the
It reminded me of the writings of Nigel Kneale, with a scientific approach to what's happening, but still leaves open for something more unexplainable. Well, maybe it's more the classic horror tales of the BBC that comes to mind: classy, well-acted and with genuine creepiness all the way through. I also like the discussion how magic is a form of science, close to hypnosis and manipulation of the mind from a distance.
I also need tell you that the dialogue is very important in
of the Dead. It's a lot of talk, but nothing is unnecessary and all of it, at
proper moments, is also very witty and smart. I can't recommend you to watch this
without subtitles, it will lower your experience a lot. Sure, there's stunning
cinematography and cool scenes of terror - but this is a movie that needs its
dialogue. If you want to see it, and I guess you want after this review, it's
out on a gorgeous DVD in
with English subtitles! Believe it or not! Norway
A Norwegian masterpiece in horror, there's no excuse to not buy it!