Wednesday, 15 October 2014

31 Days of Horror: Anguish (Angustia) (1987)

Anguish (Angustia) (1987)
Director: Bigas Luna
Starring: Zelda Rubinstein, Michael Lerner, and Talia Paul
Running Time: 89 min

What sparked my interest in this film, besides the number of horror movie lists it shows up on, is that the leads in this film are better known for their work as secondary roles in a lot of great films.  For instance,   Zelda Rubinstein was the unforgettable psychic who helped get Carol Anne back in Poltergeist and Michael Lerner is an incredible character actor, who has turned up in so many great films like Elf, Barton Fink and even X-Men: Days of Future Past.  Outside of that, I'm going in blind but that's a lot of eyeballs on the poster.

John lives with his mother and although he seems like he's a little slow, he seems to have a successful job as an optometrist or an optometrist's assistant and his mother for some reason claims that he is the best surgeon in the world.  Anyway, while at work he puts the wrong contact lenses into a woman's eyes and she complains to the nurse about him being incompetence.  Of course, John's mother can hear all the bad things this woman is saying about John because she at home and is listening to a beach shell.  John is fired that evening, so mother hypnotizes John and using her psychic ability forces him to go out to for revenge.  John shows up at the mansion of the disgruntled lady, apologizing for the incident this morning and begs the woman to allow him to put in her new contacts.  She resists at first, then allows this strange man to go upstairs with her to put in her and touch her eyes.  Luckily the husband has put on some loud music, so John is able to kill the woman and cut out her eyes as his trophies.  Then does the same to the same to the husband.  I guess eyes are just his thang.
  Then, we the audience, realize that this is just a film called "The Mommy" and in a movie theatre.   Two teenage girls, Patty and Linda are watch sickened and terrified of what they are seeing on the screen.  In the next scene, there are some more hypnotic stuff and it ends up making Linda feel sick, so she excuses her self to the bathroom.  While in the bathroom, she notices that there is a man in the washroom with her and runs to tell Linda.  Linda goes to investigate and luckily, the weird man has left the bathroom for a moment to go and murder the ticket girl and the concessions chick. Who's gonna make the popcorn now!  The killer then begins to mirror what is going on in "The Mommy" film, because the John character also is killing theatre patrons at the moment.  Do Linda and Patty regret watching this film as much as I do and will they escape this rampage by a gun toting madman or will they become part of the body count of this theatrical nightmare.

  This film reminded me a lot of "Demons", by Lamberto Bava, but I think the Bava film was done much better.  I felt annoyed when we were pulled out of "The Mommy" story and into the new story line.  Also, I found that the film really started to drag it's feet once the camera stopped flitting around to the other theatre goers and set it's focused on Linda and Patty.  Too much of Patty complaining about being scared and not feeling well, annoying not scary. 
  The other thing that bugged me was when Linda does get a chance to escape, she doesn't just run next door to use the phone and call the police but begs random people to come and help her. She even has to prove to one person, before the went to use a pay phone.  WTF?  Your friend is trapped with a killer, hurray the fuck up and call the police. 
  As well as the double ending drove me up.  It could have been a clean break, fade to black but they just had to tag something inane and completely impossible on the end.  Instead of terrifying, I thought it was just dumb.

  However frustrated I am with certain aspects of the film, I can still appreciate what director Bigas Luna (Lola, Golden Balls) was going for and it is an interesting concept.  The fact that the "Killer" is hypnotized by the film and becomes a killer is definitely a novel idea.  Although plodding and at times unrealistic, there is a good story here that would have been better wrapped up quicker and the end. 
  Also, the special effects are excellent and Francisco Teres and his team won a Goya award for their work on this film.  The eyeless corpses in the film are pretty gruesome and seeing a wall of eyes is worth the price of admission.

 This isn't such a bad film, just there are points in the film that I found disappointing and a bit irritating.  After investing 20 some minutes into one film, then jerked into another, that introduces new characters that aren't really that likeable is difficult road to go down.  Luckily, there is enough of gore and the story line is interesting enough that it seems to balance itself out, kind of.  Again not my favourite film so far but it does have it's moments at times and if you are looking for something unusual then this might be for you.     


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