Sunday, February 22, 2015

SEIZURE (1974) - Oliver Stone

For me, the jury's still out on whether Oliver Stone is a great director. The man's work was important to me in high school, but his output in the last decade has been spotty...World Trade Center, W., Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps, Savages, whichever of the four or five director's cuts of Alexander you choose. Platoon and the first Wall Street are undisputed classics of their time, but I wonder how well the rest hold up today. It's been quite a while since I've put Born on the Fourth of July into a DVD player. Would I ever want to suffer through the hummingbird editing rhythms of Any Given Sunday again?

Stone's first film Seizure doesn't do much to solve this conundrum. It's not a good film by any means, but it's also a first effort. Stone was only 28 and not long back from Vietnam, so you must give him the benefit of the doubt. For the same screenwriter who would go on to write Midnight Express and Scarface shortly afterwards, the scripting is curiously lax. Is it all a dream? A dream within a dream? And, if so, who within who cares? For a horror movie, there are virtually no scares, few creepy moments. In that regard, it makes Stone's The Hand seven years later look like a masterwork.

The plot revolves around a horror writer with night terror problems visited by an odd trio during his country estate getaway. There's the dwarf (Tattoo from Fantasy Island), a witchy woman (the Happy Hooker from The Happy Hooker Goes to Hollywood) and a mute, black strongman. "Strange" things begin to happen, none of them all that strange. Murders take place, none of them all that gruesome. The writer's usual houseguests are generally more interesting than the oddball circus-folk. There's Troy Donahue, the always reliable cult staple Mary Woronov and this guy in the speedo with the sun block pictured below. Joseph Sirola? Never heard of him before. But this long-time TV actor is hands down (and palms up) the best thing in Seizure.

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