Saturday, June 9, 2012

The Guardian (1990)

When watching The Guardian it might seem like a very odd film for William Friedkin to direct (like John Frankenheimers masterpiece, The Prophecy), but Friedkin came in when Sam Raimi had to bow out and direct Darkman instead and it still in many way feels like an eighties Raimi-film, but on the border to the slicker and more expensive horrors of the nineties. I've seen The Guardian a couple of times over the years and I'm starting to LOVE this film. Happy for me - and for many others - is that it just been released on DVD in Sweden by Njuta Films, under the Swedish original title "Djävulens Barnvakt" (it means The Devil's Nanny)!

A young successful couple has gotten their first child and moves to a new house in LA to start a new life and get rich. They have some problem finding a good nanny, but when their first choice dies in a bicycle accident the one after fits even better! She seem to get instant contact with the little boy... but soon they realize that she's not who she claims to be. Instead of a normal nanny she's a killer, a woman who worships a tree-demon out in the forest behind the house and now she wants their little boy for yet another sacrifice!

A killer-tree. Yeah. And one big scene with a chainsaw. This could have been a perfect project for Sam Raimi, but I wonder... I wonder if this movie didn't turned out better with a master like Friedkin behind the wheels. It has a certain degree of silliness, but the violence (which is very blood and graphic, nice gore!) and general nastiness of the story is something Raimi never would touch. This is a crazy motherfucking killer-tree movie for a mature gore-seeking audience, with lots of nudity and a very nice and subtle reference to Day of the Triffids.

The story is simple and pacing fast. Not much time is spent on building up an atmosphere in the classical sense. It just happens and it happens in the hands of a master. Friedkin knows what he's doing and he understands that a movie about a nanny worshipping a demon-tree needs entertainment, it needs the gore and nudity to - actually - be taken seriously. A brooding tension wouldn't work with such an absurd premise. It might sound like the movie is very silly now, but it isn't. Believe me. It's an effective horror story, but it stays away from being low-key. And we should be grateful for that. That first scene when the tree is killing of three thugs is one of a kind, with over-the-top gore worthy of the early eighties.

What do we get? A crushed head, some ripped of limps, a some wonderful impalings, nasty dog bites, chainsaw action... this movie has everything a simple, acne-infested gore hound would like to have. Damn, I love this movie so fucking much even as the grown man I am -  with apartment, cat, partner and vacations in Thailand.

This is also one of the last times I've seen a real, actual, baby involved so much in the action. The handling of the child can probably provoke certain sensitive (= wimps) in the audience, but everything looks safe and it's just the magic of editing who works extra good.

The Guardian is a very underrated movie by William Friedkin and if you've been avoiding it because you have thought it would be bloodless and boring - don't listen to those inner voices and trust me. This is fun Fun FUN and even more fun!


forestofthedead said...

I think it is underrated too.

It's concept of the tree in the movie is very different and cool.

I hope people really take the time to watch this.

Anonymous said...

"(like John Frankenheimers masterpiece, The Prophecy)," about The Challenge (1982)..?

"This is a crazy motherfucking killer-tree movie for a mature gore-seeking audience, with lots of nudity"

Yeah...some cool druid worshipping you said very underrated movie...has some good animatronics also.

But I wonder if Friedkin should have gone in the same direction as Romero did in Hungry Wives (1972)..?

Still....and entertaining Mandrake (2010) from syfy channel...another treedemon!


Anonymous said...

I LOVE Friedkin, but I haven't seen this one yet because I remember the director himself wasn't too fond of it.
But now I take your review as a nice kick in my decent ass to get me moving and grab a copy.

BW said...

Dang, I've not seen this one since I was ten years old or thereabouts. I remember my ma was pretty dubious about taping it for me ( 15 odd years on she remains the only family member who can operate the VCR) because she thought I'd be scared by the whole evil nanny thing, but I assured her it would be more about an evil tree than an evil nanny. I oughta see if I still have the tape actually, I remember it being a lot of fun in a bizarre and dysfunctional kind of way.

Ninja Dixon said...

It's a fun movie boys, and yeah - it's dysfunctional! :D But I like the gore and the absurd story. I miss stuff like that in big mainstream movies!