Friday, 20 December 2013

The Terror (1963)

Did you know that Francis Ford Coppola and Jack Nicholson made a movie together? You probably didn't, because it was one Roger Corman's many low budget quickies. Despite the names associated with it, it's best known for the fact that it is filmed entirely on re-used sets from other Corman films.

Nicholson plays Andre, a French officer during the Napoleonic wars, who gets embroiled in a tale of lust, murder, revenge and black magic. Which all sounds pretty exciting, but frankly isn't. This is a pretty dull film, which is a shame because there's the germ of a good idea in The Terror, with the potential for an interesting study of vengeance, and the destruction it causes for all involved. A good concept, however, does little to help a film if it is badly executed and paced, and this one has plenty of problems in that regard. The first hour or so mostly consists of Andre trying to work out what the heck is going on, while everyone else in the film tells him only cryptic remarks, half-truths, or lies. This is probably meant to create mystery, but it mainly induces boredom. Yes, there is clearly a hidden story, but not getting told that story is really rather dull. Then when the exposition drop finally happens, it happens all at once, in a veritable orgy of revelations, none of which have any time to breathe.

With a stronger script, that had the revelations and twists more evenly spaced out, this might have been pretty good. Instead we get a movie full of Andre angrily demanding answers, but not getting them ... until suddenly everyone decides to come clean all at once. A frustrating misfire, in several senses of the word 'frustrating'.

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