HOME |  CULT MOVIES | COMPETITIONS | ADVERTISE |  CONTACT US |  ABOUT US
 
 
Newest Reviews
Pain and Glory
Judgment at Nuremberg
Rambo: Last Blood
Sansho the Bailiff
Iron Fury
Ride in the Whirlwind
Deathstalker II
Cloak and Dagger
Honeyland
Love Ban, The
Western Stars
League of Gentlemen, The
Higher Power
Shinsengumi
IT Chapter Two
Rich Kids
Arena
Glory Guys, The
Serial Killer's Guide to Life, A
Lovers and Other Strangers
Shiny Shrimps, The
Good Woman is Hard to Find, A
Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark
Doctor at Sea
Spear
Death Cheaters
Wild Rose
Streetwalkin'
Mystify: Michael Hutchence
Devil's Playground, The
Cleanin' Up the Town: Remembering Ghostbusters
Hustlers
Mega Time Squad
Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker
Souvenir, The
Birds of Passage
Ma
Woman at War
Happy as Lazzaro
Mickey's Christmas Carol
   
 
Newest Articles
Completely Different: Monty Python's Flying Circus Series 2 on Blu-ray
Bash Street Kid: Cosh Boy on Blu-ray
Seeing is Believing: Being There on Blu-ray
Top Thirty Best (and Ten Worst) Films of the 2010s by Andrew Pragasam
Top of the Tens: The Best Films of the Decade by Graeme Clark
Terrorvision: A Ghost Story for Christmas in the 1970s
Memories Are Made of This: La Jetee and Sans Soleil on Blu-ray
Step Back in Time: The Amazing Mr. Blunden on Blu-ray
Crazy Cats and Kittens: What's New Pussycat on Blu-ray
No Place Like Home Guard: Dad's Army - The Lost Episodes on Blu-ray
A Real-Life Pixie: A Tribute to Michael J. Pollard in Four Roles
We're All In This Together: The Halfway House on Blu-ray
Please Yourselves: Frankie Howerd and The House in Nightmare Park on Blu-ray
Cleesed Off: Clockwise on Blu-ray
Sorry I Missed You: Les Demoiselles de Rochefort on Blu-ray
Silliest of the Silly: Monty Python's Flying Circus Series 1 on Blu-ray
Protest Songs: Hair on Blu-ray
Peak 80s Schwarzenegger: The Running Man and Red Heat
Rock On: That'll Be the Day and Stardust on Blu-ray
Growing Up in Public: 7-63 Up on Blu-ray
Learn Your Craft: Legend of the Witches and Secret Rites on Blu-ray
70s Psycho-Thrillers! And Soon the Darkness and Fright on Blu-ray
Split: Stephen King and George A. Romero's The Dark Half on Blu-ray
Disney Post-Walt: Three Gamechangers
But Doctor, I Am Pagliacci: Tony Hancock's The Rebel and The Punch and Judy Man on Blu-ray
   
 
  Blockhouse, The Deeper UndergroundBuy this film here.
Year: 1973
Director: Clive Rees
Stars: Peter Sellers, Charles Aznavour, Jeremy Kemp, Per Oscarsson, Peter Vaughan, Nicholas Jones, Leon Lissek, Alfred Lynch
Genre: Drama, War
Rating:  6 (from 1 vote)
Review: It is D-Day 1944 in France and a group of prisoners of war held by the Nazis are forced into working for their captors. What they are doing is digging trenches by the coastline for defence purposes, but this day the Allies attack, raining bombs down on both soldiers and prisoners. Running for cover, a group charge into the entrance of a blockhouse, but it doesn't seem safe. One man suggests that they hide deeper into the bunker, and as they do a bomb crashes overhead, sealing the entrance. Now there is nowhere to go but down, and the seven men climb down a shaft in the darkness lit only by torches. Little do they know just how long they will be staying there...

One of the most unrelentingly grim films ever made, The Blockhouse was scripted by its director Clive Rees and John Gould from the book by Jean Paul Clebert. The captions at the beginning tell us that this is a true story, and that out of the seven, only two men survive, but what they don't tell you is that this will be an exercise in suffocating claustrophobia - if getting trapped in enclosed spaces disturbs you, you may want to give this one a miss. Despite the appearance of Peter Sellers in the cast, this is not a star vehicle and certainly not a comedy, it's more of an ensemble piece with each actor getting their unenviable chance to be beaten down by circumstances.

After the opening sequence, we never see daylight again, as is true for five of the prisoners, having swapped one jail for another, only one in which there is little hope of escape. At first they are delighted to have got away from the bombardment and into safety, especially when they see what the Nazis have stored down there. There is an extensive wine cellar plus a selection of cheeses and tinned food, and also boxes of candles to light the ominously silent rooms: surely enough to keep them happy until they are saved? They light many of the candles and tuck into the food and wine, not realising how long they'll be stuck there.

And in fact, they begin to lose track of time having no way of knowing if it's day or night and no way to judge the calendar. The man who was their leader above ground, Aufret (Peter Vaughan), tries to assert his authority but it's to no avail and soon tempers are frayed and scuffles break out, leading Aufret to isolate himself from the others. Meanwhile they try to stave off the boredom by playing games: Visconti (Charles Aznavour) has a pack of cards and Grabinski (Jeremy Kemp) fashions a chess board and pieces out of carved candles. But the oppressive nature of their predicament can't help but dampen their spirits.

Particularly as there appears to be no hope of rescue. The gloomy lighting and mumbled dialogue just underline the hugely depressing nature of the story, and when the men start to die off it's not exactly a laugh riot. First to go is Aufret, who commits suicide by slashing his wrists, but as the time drags on most of them succumb to depression and ill health. Sellers manages a kind of pained nobility in his performance, as they all grow to accept they will never be freed but self pity never really dominates. By the end of the film, the candles are running out and the hollow-eyed survivors have to come to terms with living the rest of their time in darkness. The film never shows us a rescue party, either, it cuts off with years of their endurance to go, leaving not a celebration of the human spirit but a example of the battering it takes. Music, what there is of it, is by Stanley Myers.
Reviewer: Graeme Clark

 

This review has been viewed 6928 time(s).

As a member you could Rate this film

 
Review Comments (0)


Untitled 1

Login
  Username:
 
  Password:
 
   
 
Forgotten your details? Enter email address in Username box and click Reminder. Your details will be emailed to you.
   

Latest Poll
Which star is the best at shouting?
Arnold Schwarzenegger
Brian Blessed
Tiffany Haddish
Steve Carell
Olivia Colman
Captain Caveman
Sylvester Stallone
Gerard Butler
Samuel L. Jackson
Bipasha Basu
   
 
   

Recent Visitors
Graeme Clark
Andrew Pragasam
Darren Jones
  Rachel Franke
Enoch Sneed
Paul Smith
Paul Shrimpton
  Desbris M
   

 

Last Updated: