HOME |  CULT MOVIES | COMPETITIONS | ADVERTISE |  CONTACT US |  ABOUT US
 
 
 
Newest Reviews
Nobody
Prisoners of the Ghostland
Duel to the Death
Mandibles
Dona Flor and Her Two Husbands
Yakuza Princess
Djinn, The
New Order
Triggered
Claw
Original Cast Album: Company
Martyrs Lane
Paper Tigers, The
Conjuring: The Devil Made Me Do It, The
Hall
ParaPod: A Very British Ghost Hunt, The
Collini Case, The
Hitman's Wife's Bodyguard
Snake Girl and the Silver-Haired Witch, The
Superhost
Plan A
When I'm a Moth
Tigers Are Not Afraid
Misha and the Wolves
Yellow Cat
Shorta
Knocking
Bloodthirsty
When the Screaming Starts
Sweetie, You Won't Believe It
Lions Love
Demonic
Night Drive
Luca
Prospect
Toll, The
Last Bus, The
Purple Sea
Pebble and the Boy, The
Mosquito State
   
 
Newest Articles
The Guns of Nutty Joan: Johnny Guitar on Blu-ray
Intercourse Between Two Worlds: Twin Peaks Fire Walk with Me/The Missing Pieces on Blu-ray
Enjoy the Silents: Early Universal Vol. 1 on Blu-ray
Masterful: The Servant on Blu-ray
70s Sitcom Dads: Bless This House and Father Dear Father on Blu-ray
Going Under: Deep Cover on Blu-ray
Child's Play: Children's Film Foundation Bumper Box Vol. 3 on DVD
Poetry and Motion: Great Noises That Fill the Air on DVD
Too Much to Bear: Prophecy on Blu-ray
Truth Kills: Blow Out on Blu-ray
A Monument to All the Bullshit in the World: 1970s Disaster Movies
Take Care with Peanuts: Interview with Melissa Menta (SVP of Marketing)
Silent is Golden: Futtocks End... and Other Short Stories on Blu-ray
Winner on Losers: West 11 on Blu-ray
Freewheelin' - Bob Dylan: Odds and Ends on Digital
Never Sleep: The Night of the Hunter on Blu-ray
Sherlock vs Ripper: Murder by Decree on Blu-ray
That Ol' Black Magic: Encounter of the Spooky Kind on Blu-ray
She's Evil! She's Brilliant! Basic Instinct on Blu-ray
Hong Kong Dreamin': World of Wong Kar Wai on Blu-ray
Buckle Your Swash: The Devil-Ship Pirates on Blu-ray
Way of the Exploding Fist: One Armed Boxer on Blu-ray
A Lot of Growing Up to Do: Fast Times at Ridgemont High on Blu-ray
Oh My Godard: Masculin Feminin on Blu-ray
Let Us Play: Play for Today Volume 2 on Blu-ray
   
 
  Owl Service, The I Mythed Again
Year: 1969
Director: Peter Plummer
Stars: Gillian Hills, Francis Wallis, Edwin Richfield, Dorothy Edwards, Michael Holden, Raymond Llewellyn
Genre: Drama, Weirdo, Fantasy, TV SeriesBuy from Amazon
Rating:  7 (from 2 votes)
Review: Teenage Alison Bradley (Gillian Hills) has recently lost her father, and her mother has remarried, so she has a new stepbrother, Roger (Francis Wallis), to get used to. The family go on holiday to Wales and the country house that was left to Alison by her parent, where there's not much to do but enjoy the countryside, so when she hears a scratching coming from the attic above her bedroom she is intrigued, and sends housekeeper's son Gwyn (Michael Holden) up to investigate. All he finds is a service of plates, which Alison realises features an owl pattern - but by bringing them down, they have unleashed a mysterious force...

The Owl Service was adapted by Alan Garner from his own novel for older children, one of many the esteemed writer penned over a long and distinguished career. The experience of making the series was not a happy one, however, and he wrote later of his nausea when shooting at the locations in Wales, actually being sick at some points; the fact that one of the cast was refusing to take the programme seriously was little help. After seeing a psychiatrist and working out his problems - to do with reliving his written fiction in a peculiar way - the end result was broadcast on Sunday nights over 1969 to 1970, and has haunted many of those who saw it at the time; as the background indicates this was a strange story.

Taking the lead was Hills, at that time coming to the end of the sixties and a successful career both acting and singing. Very popular in France, she was best known either for being the Beat Girl, or for taking part in the movies' first full frontal nudity with Jane Birkin in Blowup, but here she was playing a teenager again despite being in her mid-twenties at the time. Her Alison is a neatly sketched portrait of restless adolescence, obviously ready to branch out on her own but still with her family life reining in her independence, and a sexual tension develops between her, Roger and Gwyn that they begin to realise parallels with a Welsh legend of a similar love triangle that ended in death and tragedy.

Will the same thing happen to these three? And what precisely is going on anyway? You never get a straight answer to that, and the off-kilter, murky atmosphere is ironically one of the series' strengths: whereas many children's series make their plotlines as clear and easy to follow as possible, here it stuck in the memories down the years because of its very hard to pin down qualities. Indeed, many at the time and for a good while after considered the programme unsuitable for younger viewers, and its strange to think of a generation settling down in front of the television after Sunday lunch to be greeted by this confounding assault on the senses. We can tell that something is up, and even get an idea of what it is, yet most would be pushed to explain everything.

It was as if the fragile mental state of the author was translating onto the screen, as every character at some stage gets wound up into a state of hysteria, all the more unsettling because we cannot quite fathom what is up with them. A mixture of paper owls made from the design on the plates, a standing stone with a hole in it, a locked room, the fact we never see the mother though she is about, a couple of photographs that depict figures in the distance who were not there when taken - it all provides a mounting sense of dread without making any lucid points, as if the unearthly power of the countryside is sending the six inhabitants of the house round the bend. Not only that but the familiar British concerns with class inform much of the relationships, with Gwyn feeling inferior, and Roger the opposite, leaving Alison torn between them. After a while you rely on the spoken introductions for a guide, although the final episode, one of the weirdest ever broadcast on UK television (and curiously anticipating The Exorcist), edges close to baffling.
Reviewer: Graeme Clark

 

This review has been viewed 3168 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
Darren Jones
Enoch Sneed
Andrew Pragasam
  Desbris M
  Paul Tuersley
  Chris Garbutt
  Sdfadf Rtfgsdf
   

 

Last Updated: