SEPTEMBER 18, 2009
While he’s known for his parodies, most of Weird Al’s best songs are just “thematic parodies” where he sort of copies the overall style of a particular artist but not one of their actual songs (“Dare To Be Stupid”, for example, is his Devo-type song). Similarly, It! can easily be mistaken for a very good Hammer movie, however it’s not a Hammer movie at all. But the only way you can tell is because it’s got Roddy McDowall instead of Peter Cushing, and it’s directed by Herbert J. Leder instead of Terence Fisher.
Also it has a prologue. I can’t recall any Hammer film having a pre-credit sequence, and since I actually thought this WAS a Hammer movie until I bothered to check (about halfway through - I was wondering why Cushing wasn’t around), I actually made a note of it. It’s nice to have a death so early in the movie, before we even know what it’s called. And since it has pretty much the worst title of all time (until Stephen King did it one better by dropping the exclamation point), it’s good that they put us in a good mood first.
And it continues to be a good movie. It has an unfortunate direct ripoff of Psycho that never really gels with the Golem parts of the movie, but I can forgive it that, because other Psycho ripoffs of the era tended to be about people being driven mad in order for someone else to steal their inheritance, so it’s nice to have someone ripping off another aspect of the story (in this case, the dead mother propped up and spoken to). It also allows for Roddy McDowall’s character to start the film off as a weirdo, instead of the usual nonsense of a good person who instantly becomes evil once this new element is introduced into their lives. The Roddy/Golem stuff has a bit of a Little Shop Of Horrors element to it, and by making him a kook right from the start, we are spared the usual sort of “No I can’t do this until something tragic happens and I change my mind in a fit of anger”.
I also liked that it was a Golem movie (the first for HMAD, I believe). I’ve always liked the concept of a monster that you can control, as long as you put something in its mouth. Freudian aspects aside, it’s also steeped in Jewish beliefs, an area that is also under-represented in horror films. I think The Unborn is the only major one in recent memory, and that movie is pretty unlikely to inspire a wave of anything. Despite the Little Shop/Psycho similarities, the film as a whole still feels largely original due to utilizing little-seen concepts.
The ending is a bit of a letdown though. McDowall sort of redeems himself, but the climax comes down to a few army guys 2 miles away blowing everything to hell. I like a little more up close and personal confrontation in my monster movies. If not for the closing shot (a bit of a sequel setup, but we never got It! 2 or Another It! or maybe It?) I would have hated it entirely. I was reminded a bit of End of Days, which originally ended with Arnold just blowing up the Devil, an idea that was deemed stupid (possibly by someone who watched It!).
The film also sports the first appearance of Ian McCulloch, who would go on to play a guy named Peter in several Italian zombie films. Love that guy.
Apparently this film was only recently released to DVD for the first time, which is kind of a surprise. Roddy, the fact that it was good, the relative lack of Golem movies... I would think there would be a bigger demand for it, yet it seemingly took over 10 years to hit the format (just as it was starting to be replaced by Blu-Ray). It’s packaged with something called The Shattered Room, which is apparently a Lovecraft adaptation with my favorite drunk, Oliver Reed. Should be amazing. I’ll get to that one in a few days, but even if it’s terrible, I think the disc is worth owning.
And for like the 5th time in the past week I can't find a trailer for the movie I watched. What the hell? From now on, whenever I can't find a trailer, I will embed a Meat Loaf video. Enjoy the incoherent video for his obscure non-hit "Razor's Edge".
What say you?