HOME |  CULT MOVIES | COMPETITIONS | ADVERTISE |  CONTACT US |  ABOUT US
 
 
 
Newest Reviews
Pusher
Pot Carriers, The
Black Bear
Don't Cry, Pretty Girls!
Portal
Me You Madness
Reckoning, The
Laddie: The Man Behind the Movies
For the Sake of Vicious
Hell Bent
Straight Shooting
Jules Verne's Rocket to the Moon
Man They Could Not Hang, The
Final Days
Frightened City, The
Assimilate
Sequin in a Blue Room
Common Crime, A
Into the Labyrinth
Power, The
Wake of Death
Night Orchid
Mortal
Iron Mask, The
Dinosaur
Personal History of David Copperfield, The
Dove, The
Collective
Charulata
Minari
Violation
Defending Your Life
Champagne Murders, The
He Dreams of Giants
Lost in America
Take Back
Honeydew
Banishing, The
Drifters, The
Gushing Prayer
   
 
Newest Articles
3 from 1950s Hollyweird: Dr. T, Mankind and Plan 9
Meiko Kaji's Girl Gangs: Stray Cat Rock on Arrow
Having a Wild Weekend: Catch Us If You Can on Blu-ray
The Drifters: Star Lucie Bourdeu Interview
Meiko Kaji Behind Bars: Female Prisoner Scorpion on Arrow
The Horror of the Soviets: Viy on Blu-ray
Network Double Bills: Tarka the Otter and The Belstone Fox
Network Double Bills: All Night Long and Ballad in Blue
Chew Him Up and Spit Him Out: Romeo is Bleeding on Blu-ray
British Body Snatchers: They Came from Beyond Space on Blu-ray
Bzzzt: Pulse on Blu-ray
The Tombs Will Be Their Cities: Demons and Demons 2 on Arrow
Somebody Killed Her Husband: Charade on Blu-ray
Network Double Bills: Maroc 7 and Invasion
Network Double Bills: The Best of Benny Hill and The Likely Lads
Network Double Bills: Some Girls Do and Deadlier Than the Male
Absolutely Bananas: Link on Blu-ray
Network Double Bills: Hawk the Slayer and The Medusa Touch
The Price of Plague: The Masque of the Red Death on Blu-ray
Network Double Bills: Seance on a Wet Afternoon and Ring of Spies
Chaney Chillers: Inner Sanctum Mysteries - The Complete Film Series on Blu-ray
Adelphi Extras: Stars in Your Eyes on Blu-ray
Toons for the Heads: Fantastic Planet and Adult Animation
Nature Girl: The New World on Blu-ray
Network Double Bills: Perfect Friday and Robbery
   
 
  Blockhouse, The Deeper Underground
Year: 1973
Director: Clive Rees
Stars: Peter Sellers, Charles Aznavour, Jeremy Kemp, Per Oscarsson, Peter Vaughan, Nicholas Jones, Leon Lissek, Alfred Lynch
Genre: Drama, WarBuy from Amazon
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 7690 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 probably has psychic powers?
Laurence Fishburne
Nicolas Cage
Anya Taylor-Joy
Patrick Stewart
Sissy Spacek
Michelle Yeoh
Aubrey Plaza
Tom Cruise
Beatrice Dalle
Michael Ironside
   
 
   

Recent Visitors
Graeme Clark
Andrew Pragasam
Darren Jones
Enoch Sneed
  Paul Tuersley
  Chris Garbutt
  Sdfadf Rtfgsdf
Stately Wayne Manor
   

 

Last Updated: