Thursday, May 31, 2012

Once Upon a Time in Sweden: The Forgotten Wells (1994)


I promised myself not to write about bad Swedish movies during this week, but the other day I found myself watching Mats Helge Olsson's The Forgotten Wells (aka Jagad i Underjorden aka Grottmorden), the last gasp of the not so spectacular Swedish empire of low budget genre movies Mats Helge created when he needed money after a very, very, very big flop called Sverige åt Svenskarna (but that's a totally different story). During the end of his career he got involved with muscle-boy Anders Hellquist (here credited as A.R. Hellquist), who in a couple of "action classics" starred as the shirt-ripping hero. It was also during that time that Olsson's pupil, Anders Nilsson, started to direct more and more and this movie is credited to them both.

Hellquist is Pete Savage, an adventurous journalist sent out by his boss (played by Frederick Offrein) to investigate a system of forgotten... wells! Yeah, that's true! Many years ago a boy is said to have disappeared in the underground system and Pete and his team is set out to find him! But what the hell, at the same time - from a nearby mental hospital - a crazy serial killer escapes and hides out in the wells! Bad luck for our heroes! And even worse, the brother of the killer - a very rich man named Tanner (Taggen Axelsson) - sends out his henchmen to kill every witness to his brother's bloody mayhem!

No, this is not a good movie. Actually, it's very far from a good movie. I guess it's suppose to be a horror/slasher (which I always forget), but the tension is nada and the "actors" mostly seem interested in beat each other in different not so creative ways. It's very dark and hard to see what's happening which is a brutal contrast to the scenes in the beginning that looks like they're from an extra cheap porn movie. The strongest part of the movie is the editing. Confusing, yes - but during the sloppy fight scenes it's actually quite good and works fine - but that's always been a fact in the work of Mats Helge: action is interesting for the filmmakers, the rest is just to fill out between the crappy fights.

I might seem harsh on the movie - and yes, that's what I am. But as a collector of Mats Helge movies and odd genre flicks from Sweden it's necessary to watch everything I find. For several years I had contact with Mats Helge, but stopped answered the phone after he started to rave about how the homosexuals and the Jews controlled media and destroyed his career - men like that are best to ignore before they take over your life. But he was friendly anyway and my interested also made me get to know some of the actors involved in his classics - and I casted three of the stars from this movie in a movie I produced morethan ten years ago. Fun times.

But back to The Forgotten Wells. Another thing I like about it is the underground locations - both real locations and built sets. Pity they're so dark it's impossible to follow the action. Sam Cook, who have a much bigger part in yesterdays Mask of Murder, also have a very small part here. Do anyone know who he was/is? Let me know, I'm curious! Another odd casting is Gareth Hunt, the British character actor (The New Avengers and the failed Bond-spoof Licensed to Love and Kill) who slums as a bad cop during most of the movie. How the hell did he end up in this micro budget Swedish crapfest?

I can't recommend The Forgotten Wells to anyone, but it's an interesting and failed attempt to make another slasher in Sweden - and every try is a welcome try.

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

"but stopped answered the phone after he started to rave about how the homosexuals and the Jews controlled media and destroyed his career - men like that are best to ignore before they take over your life."

Too bad...always liked The Ninja Mission (1984).


"How the hell did he end up in this micro budget Swedish crapfest?"

Yeah...I always use The Prize (1963) with paul newman as an example.....he almost gets ass kicked in a bar in Södermalm......kids nowadays use the US remake The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (2011)as an example.

Although those films are big budgets, it is always strange to see UK/US actors in Sweden.

Thomas T. Simmons said...

Damn, I remember being so excited to see this back when it came out. I was actually so dissapointed with it that I sold the DVD on e-bay directly after watching it. Glad to hear that I didn't do anything foolish.

It's funny and ironic that Helge seemed to rip-off Albert Pyun's ADRENALINE for his final film. Definitely not Pyun's finest hour, that's for sure.