Monday, December 22, 2008

It / The Shuttered Room

Written by Fantasma el Rey

It / The Shuttered Room now available from Warner Home Video on one DVD is a decent combination of movies, although one is a better than the other. One film is about a museum and a Golem while the other is a gothic tale of terror that involves a creepy family’s past. It is not to be confused with the Stephen King story, at all, and The Shuttered Room is the film to watch. Consider It as a bonus film and you’ll feel a bit better in the morning…if you can survive this “terror twofer.“

The DVD starts off with The Shuttered Room so let’s begin there. The film stars Gig Young as an older man who takes his younger wife, the stunning Carol Lynley, back to her shadowy roots on a New England island uncovering insanity, murder, and family secrets locked away in The Shuttered Room. Right from the start island folk warn of the curse of her family and that Gig should take his lovely wife off as soon as possible. The couple shrugs off all warnings and press on to the old millhouse where the lass was born. Along the way they get tormented, chased, and beaten by island “youth” who get their kicks by fondling the island hussy, converse with a doll of an old aunt, and unleash the terror of The Shuttered Room, which turns out to be a bit of a let-down in the horror department but that’s okay because we get to see a couple of hot chicks nearly naked and Gig gets to kick some ass, proving that old guys rock. The film is more a suspense/mystery than monster or murder horror and is fueled by the crazy Miles Davis-like jazz soundtrack that adds to the creepy atmosphere. There are also some good camera shots and angles, first-person dizziness and window reflections.

A couple of interesting side notes about Gig Young include the fact that after he played a part in the Bruce Lee film Game Of Death, he committed suicide after killing his young wife, the whole story is shrouded in mystery as well. James Dean fans will remember him as the guy who interviewed Dean for the last time, the interview in which Dean talks of safe driving because “the life you save may be mine” and was just a short time later killed in an auto wreck.

It on the other hand is a monster movie, starring Roddy McDowall and Jill Haworth as the young women of his dreams. It falls apart fairly quickly as the story is unbelievable and filled with holes. McDowall plays a museum curator’s assistant who comes into control of a golem and goes insane with his newfound power, but we know he’s a nut ball already after it’s revealed early in the picture that he talks to his rotting mother’s corpse a la Norman Bates. He commands the golem to kill people and destroy bridges, the cops get involved an American trying to purchase the golem for his museum becomes the hero, Haworth is half nude (hubba hubba) in a strange dream of McDowall’s, and then the army gets involved to destroy the golem. Destroying the golem is truly the hard part as not fire, nor water, nor force will do the trick and to the army’s dismay neither will heavy artillery nor a small nuclear bomb. Hokey as hell last minute rescue of Haworth on a motorcycle make this one even more laughable but fun as it seems to become an Ed Wood film (the miniatures and overall story concept) with slightly better production. The golem itself is pretty much a statue that moves like Frankenstein’s monster, not too big a deal.

It / The Shuttered Room is an all-right double feature for suspense on one end and unintentional laughs on the other, an interesting package for sure. It seems as though It was tacked on for the hot bare chick aspect. The other similarity is that both were made by English studios and the director of It wanted his movie to resemble the films being turned out by the folks over at Hammer Studios. So fright fans, I’d pick this up for the creepy aspect and atmosphere of The Shuttered Room and the laughs and questions that It provides. Like I say, if you’re entertained for a few hours, then the film has done its job.