HOME |  CULT MOVIES | COMPETITIONS | ADVERTISE |  CONTACT US |  ABOUT US
 
 
 
Newest Reviews
Laguna Ave.
Memory Box: Echoes of 9/11
Amulet
Flag Day
Boris Karloff: The Man Behind the Monster
Nest, The
Martin Eden
Halloween Kills
Cicada
Sun Shines Bright, The
Last Thing Mary Saw, The
Comets
Herself
Mon Oncle d'Amerique
Wild Strawberries
Runner, The
Don't Look Up
Ghostbusters: Afterlife
Eternals
Forever Purge, The
Memoria
Venom: Let There Be Carnage
Legend of La Llorona, The
Japon
Glasshouse
Perdita Durango
Commando, The
Woodlands Dark and Days Bewitched: A History of Folk Horror
Boiling Point
Malignant
Deadly Games
Ailey
Voyeurs, The
Beyond the Infinite Two Minutes
In the Earth
Hiroshima Mon Amour
Hotel Poseidon
Zola
No Time to Die
Klaus
   
 
Newest Articles
Moon Night - Space 1999: Super Space Theater on Blu-ray
Super Sammo: Warriors Two and The Prodigal Son on Blu-ray
Sex vs Violence: In the Realm of the Senses on Blu-ray
What's So Funny About Brit Horror? Vampira and Bloodbath at the House of Death on Arrow
Keeping the Beatles Alive: Get Back
The Punk Rock Movie: Out of the Blue on Blu-ray
Yeah, Too Quiet: The Great Silence on Blu-ray
Vestron Double Bill: Dementia 13 and The Wraith
Farewell Dean Stockwell: His Years of Weirdness
Kung Fu Craft: Cinematic Vengeance! on Blu-ray
999 Letsbe Avenue: Gideon's Way on Blu-ray
Hungary for Cartoons: Hungarian Animations on MUBI
You Have No Choice: Invasion of the Body Snatchers on Blu-ray
You Can't Tame What's Meant to Be Wild: The Howling on Blu-ray
Commendably Brief: Short Sharp Shocks Vol. 2 on Blu-ray
Super Silents: Early Universal Vol. 2 on Blu-ray
Fable Fear: The Singing Ringing Tree on Blu-ray
Gunsight Eyes: The Sabata Trilogy on Blu-ray
Bloody Bastard Baby: The Monster/I Don't Want to Be Born on Blu-ray
Night of the Animated Dead: Director Jason Axinn Interview
The ParaPod: A Very British Ghost Hunt - Interview with Director/Star Ian Boldsworth
On the Right Track: Best of British Transport Films Vol. 2
The Guns of Nutty Joan: Johnny Guitar on Blu-ray
Intercourse Between Two Worlds: Twin Peaks Fire Walk with Me/The Missing Pieces on Blu-ray
Enjoy the Silents: Early Universal Vol. 1 on Blu-ray
   
 
  Magic Get Back In The Box
Year: 1978
Director: Richard Attenborough
Stars: Anthony Hopkins, Ann-Margret, Burgess Meredith, Ed Lauter, E.J. André, Jerry Houser, David Ogden Stiers, Lillian Randolph, Joe Lowry, Robert Hackman, Mary Munday, Brad Beesley, Scott Garrett, Beverly Sanders, I.W. Klein, Patrick McCullough
Genre: Horror, Drama, ThrillerBuy from Amazon
Rating:  4 (from 1 vote)
Review: Corky Withers (Anthony Hopkins) returns from his onstage debut where he performed card tricks, but no matter what he tells his mentor Merlin (E.J. André) it didn't go half as well as he would have hoped. To clarify: the act went precisely as he had planned, he succeeded in every trick he tried, but audience, meagre as it was, simply were not interested, talking amongst themselves, unresponsive even if they were facing the stage, and even walking out as if they had better things to do than sit around watching Corky. So he snapped, letting loose his temper on the nightclub customers who at least were taking notice of him now. But what he really needed was a new act, or at least a new partner...

The whole idea of a horror movie based around a ventriloquist's dummy was not a new one even in the year this was released, the most celebrated instance being the final story in classic portmanteau chiller Dead of Night, but screenwriter William Goldman thought he had what it took to breathe new life into the creaky notion, probably because the fear of dummies was one that never went away. This is also why Magic, which he based on his novel, retains its popularity to this day as it was a pretty big hit in 1978, and many have memories, if not of the actual film, then the film’s publicity where its teaser of Fats the dummy speaking ominous phrases to camera proved nightmare fuel for a generation.

Maybe more than one. But there were problems because it was plain to see the filmmakers had little experience in the horror genre, and their attempts to be edgy more often than not came across as overemphatic and hamfisted. For a start, there was no way you would ever believe Corky and Fats would become a huge success, Hopkins, who could be a very charismatic actor in the right role, was simply too nervy and sweaty from the beginning and throughout his supposed professional prosperity; it was too obvious he was insane, no matter that other ventriloquist dummy chillers preferred to leave an ambiguous note about whether they were acting of their own volition or their performer's, often to at least marginally better effect than here.

Certainly there were occasional nods to Fats operating under his own steam, but Hopkins was too overwhelming as an obviously unbalanced individual for that to be convincing, a collection of haunted looks and tics that might have been better played for black humour or at least something more macabre than what resulted here. In this case, he only had to show up on the screen and we would be wondering when he would get to murdering his fellow cast members, and if it was meant to be that sort of movie he really should have had more victims than the ones Goldman offered him. Quite why one of the Kings of the prestige picture Lord Richard Attenborough was involved here was frankly a complete mystery, as he demonstrated nothing except being out of his depth.

With an appearance to the film that was less doomladen and more listless and gloomy, it was not even amusing to look at, and even Ann-Margret failed to bring a spark to the story as Peggy Ann, Corky’s long-pined after love interest who happens to be married to Ed Lauter, not given much to work with either truth be told. The sole actor to make something of his role was Burgess Meredith as the agent Ben Greene, his gravitas lent a sense of importance to the protagonist's failing sanity and led to the one decent scene in the whole thing where Greene tries to get Corky to persuade him he is genuinely sane by setting aside Fats for five whole minutes. Finally here you get the feeling they could have built on that mood, the psychology, but soon after you were landed back in spurious motivations that would not have passed muster in a cheap slasher if it had not been for the renown of those involved. Other than that, if you were not immediately unnerved by the dummy there was nothing for you here, it plodded along to very little effect otherwise. Music by Jerry Goldsmith.
Reviewer: Graeme Clark

 

This review has been viewed 2102 time(s).

As a member you could Rate this film

 
Review Comments (0)


Untitled 1

Login
  Username:
 
  Password:
 
   
 
Forgotten your details? Enter email address in Username box and click Reminder. Your details will be emailed to you.
   

Latest Poll
Which star probably has psychic powers?
Laurence Fishburne
Nicolas Cage
Anya Taylor-Joy
Patrick Stewart
Sissy Spacek
Michelle Yeoh
Aubrey Plaza
Tom Cruise
Beatrice Dalle
Michael Ironside
   
 
   

Recent Visitors
Graeme Clark
Andrew Pragasam
Darren Jones
Jason Cook
Enoch Sneed
  Desbris M
  Paul Tuersley
  Chris Garbutt
   

 

Last Updated: