Thursday, March 19, 2009
Day Fifty-Four: The Shuttered Room (1967) - Rank 1/5
Let it be said that H.P. Lovecraft and Oliver Reed cannot save a film. Primarily because, in the case of "The Shuttered Room," an atmospheric, taut Lovecraft piece is reduced to a trifling film with the pacing of a bad Russian play and Oliver Reed just showed up, regrettably sober, to collect a paycheck (to buy more booze). Thankfully Reed is in the film, because he makes it watchable with some mild-mannered hamminess (though a horrific "Irish???" accent), but this is pre-Ken Russell Oliver Reed, so it goes without saying that his trademark scenery chewing is dreadfully absent. As is any sense of tension or suspense.
The plot is a familiar one - a character returns to the town of his/her childhood (in this case, that character is Carol Lynley) and it turns out there's a family curse. Gig Young plays the ever-so-sensible husband who disregards everything as superstition with an expert degree of wooden acting that makes Ben Stein's most languorous roles seem as if they're auditions for the part of Ricky Roma in "Glengarry Glenn Ross." The script is so trying I dozed off during my first attempt to watch the film and regrettably had to try again. Ugh...I typically try to look for some positive in a film, but I couldn't find any here. The funny thing is I've read over some movie message boards and a lot of people consider it a classic horror film. My question to them would be: "If it's so popular, then why couldn't I find an image of the original poster?" The closest I ever came was the foreign one sheet you see above. Just sad.