Friday, June 1, 2012

Once Upon a Time in Sweden: Skräcken Har 1000 Ögon (1970)

I guess Torgny Wickman's Skräcken har 1000 ögon (The Fear Has 2000 Eyes) still is one of Swedens most talked-about horror movies, or "erotic horror" as some would say. It's still one of the most bashed horror movies made here, which today seem a bit weird - because it's actually not that bad and not better or worse than some of the more trashier Italian and Spanish counterparts. Just a little bit more snowy and stiff. Shot on location in the north of Sweden and at the Europa Studio in Sundbyberg, outside Stockholm, this is one of the more interesting genre productions made up in the cold north...

The priest Sven (Hans Wahlgren) and his wife Anna (Anita Sanders) comes home after being away for a while. Anna had psychiatric problems, probably connected to her pregnancy, and now it's time to start all over again. But something has changed at home.... something sinister and dark. Their maid Hedvig (Solveig Andersson) has started to dabble with black magic and she starts causing trouble with her spells. Soon people around them is starting to die and Anna isn't sure if she's going crazy again or if there's something otherworldly terrorizing them...

While the story is very thin the atmosphere is thick and juicy, with lots of mumbo jumbo, nudity and stiff acting from a nice cast of stiff actors. Stiffest of them all is Hans Wahlgren, but I've always liked him. He's not that colourful, but his good looks and dandy-like style is enough for be to adore him. Solveig Andersson has never been much of an actress and can't handle the simplest line, but she looks good and has a dangerous aura that works better than I thought it would. Anita Sanders is the of the main actors, which isn't surprising considering her earlier works together with Pupi Avati, Tinto Brass, Bruno Corbucci and Federico Fellini. She also, in 1976, worked as assistant director on Fellini's Casanova and starred in Pier Paolo Pasolini's The Canterbury Tales.

I find it extra fun to see character actor Bertil Norström playing the happy and corpulent Vilgot, who dies after being affected by a piece of genuine Voodoo bread! Bertil is a great actor and in 1970 he starred in this one and Roy Andersson's masterpiece A Love Story - one of the best movies EVER made in Sweden. Talk about a variety of acting parts!

As a horror movie this isn't scary at all - and the nudity and sex doesn't make it especially erotic either, but its strength is the atmosphere. The tension, the very weird details (like the three-legged baby dress, the voodoo bread and the Hedvig's tries to scary everyone with a glowing, white hand!) gives Skräcken Har 1000 Ögon a very interesting and successful feeling of madness and loneliness. The small hints from one of the characters that Christianity isn't much different from the occult seem like a personal message from the filmmakers. What few know is that this is partly based on real events, set in the real house where the movie was shot - a real home of a priest!


Yes. In 1922 two witnesses saw a white, glowing hand floating in the air above one of the nearby graves. A couple of days later the priest himself, Beskow, saw the hand floating inside the house pointing at a closet! The priest and his wife, including guest, experienced a lot of hauntings - including one time when their dog walked backwards out from the house and the door closed violent after him! The legend of the haunted rectory continued over the years and had it's zenith in 1927.

Skräcken Har 1000 Ögon is released by Klubb Super 8 in Sweden, not English subs. The DVD includes an interview with Hans Wahlgren and the producer Inge Ivarsson plus fifteen minutes of deleted scenes. 

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

"Solveig Andersson has never been much of an actress and can't handle the simplest line, but she looks good and has a dangerous aura that works better than I thought it would."

She looks very beautiful on the pictures I´ve seen....can´t remember her from Thriller - en grym film....need to rewatch it.

"I find it extra fun to see character actor Bertil Norström"

Yeah, he is still active...