Tuesday, 8 September 2015
Bell from Hell (1973)
This film has received positive reviews at a number of B-movie blogs. I will not be joining the chorus, however. I'll admit their praise of the performances, direction and editing are not without merit, but for my money none of that is worth much with a script as muddled and unengaging as this one. It's a bit like when everyone raved about The Dark Knight because of how good Heath Ledger was. Ledger's performance was terrific but it doesn't change the fact that the script was a hot box of stupid.
A young man who may or may not be crazy gets released from the sanitarium his aunt had him committed to three years earlier. The aunt may or may not have done this in order to seize his inheritance and spend it on herself and her daughters. Her nephew may or may not plan to get his revenge on her by slaughtering his cousins in an abattoir.
Ambiguity can be a powerful tool in fiction, when used well, but it's really easy to overdo it. Particularly when your film is quite slow-moving in general. And boy does this one ever take its sweet time doing anything. Any initial interest I might have had in the possibly insane nephew's possibly misguided quest for revenge against his possibly wicked aunt evaporated long before he finally got around to putting his plans into action.
And as for the very end of the film ... it's not merely "a bridge too far" in terms of plot contrivance. It's six bridges and a ferry ride too far.