The daily Nebraskan. ([Lincoln, Neb.) 1901-current, March 19, 1987, Page Page 7, Image 7

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    Thursday, March 19, 1987
Daily Nebraskan
Page 7
mm mmm
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Friday, 11 p.m. and 3 a.m.
USA ch. 17
"Scared to Death," (1947)
Beta Lugosi, Angelo Rossitto
This film is so bizarre that it's
tough deciding where to start. First,
it's in color, which is weird because
it's a really cheap film and it's made
by a minor studio (Golden Gate
Productions). "Scared to Death"
also is narrated by a corpse. Every
20 minutes or so the camera zooms
in on a woman's corpse. A voiceover
says something like "it was the
most horrifying moment of my life."
Then the camera zooms back, music
resembling someone playing a saw
intrudes, and we're subjected to
another flashback of what happened
on that fateful day.
Bela Lugosi (who looks like he's
been into the cognac or the mor
phone) arrives with dwarf actor
Angelo Rossitto in tow and introdu
ces him as "my leetle fiend Indigo."
Bela is there to see his brother,
George Zucco (the great bad guy
Moriarty in the Sherlock Holmes
films). Joyce Compson is a woman
(and a corpse) who keeps getting
scared when she sees a green
Kresge's Halloween mask hovering
in the window. Famous dumb guy
comedian Nat Pendleton (who play
ed the dumb ambulance driver in
the Dr. Kildare movies) displays
versatility as a dumb guygumshoe.
I've seen this film 10 times and
something happens at the end that
wraps up the whole Halloween mask
mystery . . . I just haven't been able
to figure out what it is. A morgue
attendant in the film says a woman
was "literally scared to death," but
I'm not even sure that happened.
"Scared to Death" is perplexing,
incoherent, confusing, ludicrous and
definitely for fans of Lugosi, Angelo
Rossitto (who was in "Freaks"
(1932) and last year's "Mad Max:
Beyond Thunderdome") and shoestring-budget
Saturday, 1 p.m. USAch. 17
" Walked with a Zombie"
(1943) Frances Dee, Darby
Harlan Ellison, while scathingly
decrying the pervasiveness of "knife
kill'.' and "splatter movies," once
wrote of the films of Val Lewton, "As
a more reliable barometer of the
centigrades to which artful horror
can chill a filmgoer, I find no equal
to what Lewton produced in merely
eight films between 1942 and 1946,
with budgets so ludicrous, achieve
ments so startling and studio inten
tions so base that they stand as
some sort of landmark for everyone
venturing into the genre, whether a
John Carpenter or a Brian DePalma."
V ; '
' r
"I Walked with a Zombie," like
producer Val Lewton's other RKO
projects like the original "Cat Peo
ple" and "The Leopard Man," are
intelligent, visually stunning and
provocative. Many of his films deal
with themes like the power of rea
son, reality, religion, philosophy,
obsessions with death and a general
feeling of despair.
The film, based loosely on "Jane
Eyre," takes place in the West
Indies on the island of San Sebas
tian where Betsy (Frances Dee), a
nurse, is sent to care for a invalid
woman thought to be suffering from
a rare form of mental paralysis.
There Betsy and everyone on the
island become involved in bizarre
voodoo rituals. It may sound trite,
but it's not. Thanks to great direc
tion by acclaimed gothic-film direc
tor Jacques Tournuer, there are
some unforgettable scenes such as
the long tracking shots that accom
pany two women as they trek though
the cane fields to a voodoo cere
mony. They encounter the incredible
Darby Jones as a huge zombie who
guards the gates of Houmfort where
the ceremonies take place.' "I
Walked with a Zombie," despite its
title, is a classic that should not be
There are some good books about
Val Letfton's inimitable filmmaking
vision at Love Library; for example,
"Val Lewton: The Reality of Terror"
by Joel E. Siegal and "Dreams of
Darkness" by J.P. Telotte. See Mon
day's entry for another great Val
Lewton film.
Saturday, 2 p.m. KPTM, ch. 9
"Dr. Blind 's Coffin " (1961
British) Kieron Moore
Writer Jerry J uran decides to save
himself some time (and imagina
tion) by simply naming the mad
doctor character Dr. Blood. How
ever, this guy is more than just mad,
he's also not very bright. lie thinks
that you can kill people, remove
their hearts, place them in a dead
body and whammo, the dead body
will come to life again. Unfortu
nately, as writer Bill Warren points
out, putting a functioning heart in a
dead body full of decaying veins and
arteries would just spray blood
around and make a big mess.
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