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  Seizure Save It For The Book
Year: 1974
Director: Oliver Stone
Stars: Jonathan Frid, Martine Beswick, Joseph Sirola, Christina Pickles, Hervé Villechaize, Anne Meacham, Roger De Koven, Troy Donahue, Mary Woronov, Richard Cox, Henry Judd Baker, Lucy Bingham, Alexis Kirk, Mike Meola, Timothy Ousey, Timothy Rowse
Genre: HorrorBuy from Amazon
Rating:  5 (from 1 vote)
Review: Edmund Blackstone (Jonathan Frid) has had that nightmare again. His son Jason (Timothy Ousey) appears to find out why his father cried out, but Edmund decides to approach the day as if nothing untoward has happened, after all they're expecting guests at their isolated country house in the forest and he must put on a welcoming face. He is a famed writer who specialises in horror novels, and his latest is to be one for children, but what if his literary plans are having a detrimental effect on his sanity? What if all those years of delving into the darker side of his psyche has brought out dark forces?

Seizure was the first film directed by Oliver Stone, though far from being a source of pride this Canadian co-production was a bit of a nightmare for him as well as his protagonist, and though he continued to write successfully it was almost ten years before he was able to direct again, with another chiller in The Hand. Perhaps for that reason this was difficult to see, though those who did track it down were of the opinion that if it was not the most artistically successful movie they ever saw, it wasn't entirely worth utter dismissal either. Then again, there were elements which prevented others from taking it as soberly as intended.

One of the main sticking points was a member of the trio of villains who are conjured up to put Edmund and his guests through their paces. Before we reach that stage there is a lot of setting up, not only establishing that there is someone out there in the woods which has already hung Jason's pet pooch from a tree, but that the visitors are a bunch who you find it hard to believe would ever be friends, although that was probably a lot less intentional. What brought together this collection of disparate souls is a mystery, but the fact they're here and are about to be picked off one by one by the baddies is really what matters. And also, the method of their whittling down is important too.

Edmund is such a cowardly, weasely piece of work that he makes it his business to survive to the end in spite of the three apparitions hailing from his subconscious. Rather than leaping into action to harness his inner demons once he twigs that is what is happening, he cowers and does whatever they tell him to, which includes the once seen never forgotten sight of soap opera star Frid (he was cast due to his leading role in TV's Dark Shadows) in a knife fight with the statuesque Mary Woronov arranged by a very fetching Martine Beswick, who plays the Queen of Evil. There was an eclectic cast here, that was for sure, including former teen idol Troy Donahue (who is manhandled by Martine), legendary voiceover man Joseph Sirola, and most famously tiny French actor Hervé Villechaize.

It was this last cast member who you could have a problem with, as he made up the trio of punishers led by Beswick, with Henry Judd Baker as the huge, silent Executioner, and Hervé as the Spider who's a dab hand with a blade. Trouble was, the scenes where he overpowers and beats up his taller co-stars were somewhat absurd; sure, they must have given him an ego boost, but it's hard to believe a normal-sized man couldn't outrun him through those forests. On the other hand, such material did contribute to the weirdness as the Queen tells the assembled that only one person can survive the night, and puts them to contests where the loser is bumped off. This places a dilemma into Edmund's mind too, in that he must save his son by not revealing he is upstairs in the attic, but even then he is such a mean-minded sort that when push comes to shove it's his own skin he's more interested in saving. Quite what this was saying about creative types was for you to decide. Music by Lee Gagnon.
Reviewer: Graeme Clark


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Oliver Stone  (1946 - )

Didactic, aggressive and in-your-face American writer-director who, after directing a couple of horrors (Seizure and The Hand) and writing Midnight Express and Scarface, settled into his own brand of political state-of-the-nation films like Salvador, the Oscar-winning Platoon, Wall Street, Talk Radio, JFK, Natural Born Killers and Nixon. Slightly out of character were The Doors and U-Turn: respectively, a celebration of the late sixties and a sweaty thriller. In 2004 he experienced his biggest flop with Alexander, a historical epic, but followed it with the reverent World Trade Center and a biopic of then just-leaving President George W. Bush. A belated sequel to Wall Street and gangster movie Savages were next. Say what you like, he has made his mark and loads of people have an opinion on him.

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