HOME |  CULT MOVIES | COMPETITIONS | ADVERTISE |  CONTACT US |  ABOUT US
 
 
 
Newest Reviews
American Fiction
Poor Things
Thunderclap
Zeiram
Legend of the Bat
Party Line
Night Fright
Pacha, Le
Kimi
Assemble Insert
Venus Tear Diamond, The
Promare
Beauty's Evil Roses, The
Free Guy
Huck and Tom's Mississippi Adventure
Rejuvenator, The
Who Fears the Devil?
Guignolo, Le
Batman, The
Land of Many Perfumes
Cat vs. Rat
Tom & Jerry: The Movie
Naked Violence
Joyeuses Pacques
Strangeness, The
How I Became a Superhero
Golden Nun
Incident at Phantom Hill
Winterhawk
Resident Evil: Welcome to Raccoon City
Maigret Sets a Trap
B.N.A.
Hell's Wind Staff, The
Topo Gigio and the Missile War
Battant, Le
Penguin Highway
Cazadore de Demonios
Snatchers
Imperial Swordsman
Foxtrap
   
 
Newest Articles
3 From Arrow Player: Sweet Sugar, Girls Nite Out and Manhattan Baby
Little Cat Feat: Stephen King's Cat's Eye on 4K UHD
La Violence: Dobermann at 25
Serious Comedy: The Wrong Arm of the Law on Blu-ray
DC Showcase: Constantine - The House of Mystery and More on Blu-ray
Monster Fun: Three Monster Tales of Sci-Fi Terror on Blu-ray
State of the 70s: Play for Today Volume 3 on Blu-ray
The Movie Damned: Cursed Films II on Shudder
The Dead of Night: In Cold Blood on Blu-ray
Suave and Sophisticated: The Persuaders! Take 50 on Blu-ray
Your Rules are Really Beginning to Annoy Me: Escape from L.A. on 4K UHD
A Woman's Viewfinder: The Camera is Ours on DVD
Chaplin's Silent Pursuit: Modern Times on Blu-ray
The Ecstasy of Cosmic Boredom: Dark Star on Arrow
A Frosty Reception: South and The Great White Silence on Blu-ray
You'll Never Guess Which is Sammo: Skinny Tiger and Fatty Dragon on Blu-ray
Two Christopher Miles Shorts: The Six-Sided Triangle/Rhythm 'n' Greens on Blu-ray
Not So Permissive: The Lovers! on Blu-ray
Uncomfortable Truths: Three Shorts by Andrea Arnold on MUBI
The Call of Nostalgia: Ghostbusters Afterlife on Blu-ray
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
   
 
  Symptoms Everybody Needs A Little Time Away
Year: 1974
Director: José Ramón Larraz
Stars: Angela Pleasence, Peter Vaughan, Lorna Heilbron, Nancy Nevinson, Ronald O'Neill, Marie-Paule Malleux, Mike Grady, Raymond Huntley
Genre: HorrorBuy from Amazon
Rating:  5 (from 1 vote)
Review: Best friends Helen (Angela Pleasence) and Anne (Lorna Heilbron) are taking a break in the isolated country mansion of the former, which is situated in the middle of a forest next to a secluded lake. There's hardly anyone about that Anne can see, and they're some way away from the local village, but perhaps this peace and quiet are what Helen needs because she has a history of being highly strung, and she has recently felt betrayed by a different friendship which ended badly. But how badly did it really end? Could there have been something sinister going on?

Helen doesn't like to talk about what happened to her former pal, but we can guess there's something up when the first few shots include a naked body lying at the shore of that lake, as if dumped there. When Anne remarks on a walk soon after they arrive that it's a beautiful area, Helen (Pleasence as notably weird as her more famous father could be) is quick to point out someone drowned there, as if to bring the mood down, but she almost needn't have bothered because this was one of those horror movies which relied on the oppressive atmosphere conjured up by its director, in this case Spaniard in Britain José Ramón Larraz for whom this was one of four (!) movies he directed in 1974.

The most celebrated one of those from that golden year for him was Vampyres, his gory lesbian bloodsuckers romp for which the clinically-named Symptoms could have been a companion piece: they both feature English country houses in the woods, and they both create their terrors out of a fear of homosexuality in women. Here it was Helen who was gay, or so we can work out from her occasional tics and behaviour, apparently bringing Anne to the place so she can get to know her better, if you know what I mean, yet her anxiety keeps getting in the way. Something is upsetting her, be it her previous relationship or the handyman Brady (Peter Vaughan) who "disgusts" her.

Seeing as how Vaughan was already a past master at menace, we wonder if Helen's revulsion at him is because of her sexuality, or because of his actually being up to evil in among those dense trees. Or should we say repulsion rather than revulsion, because there was a certain Roman Polanski movie, a horror flick made when he was an emigré in Britain centered around a young woman having a potentially murderous breakdown, that Larraz's efforts here bore quite some resemblance to, as if he had found the script of that sixties film and mixed up the pages of Vampyres with its own to conjure up a whole new film, though one which came across as unmistakably derivative.

At the time, the few who saw Symptoms were wont to think it was the better movie, but that was plainly wrong, it wasn't bad but its rather uncomfortable rejection of lesbianism by depicting it as a mental illness doesn't play too well in modern times. It was fair enough to be scared of a vampire even if she did represent a sexuality that was nothing to do with being satisfied by men, because, hey, you're supposed to be scared of (most) vampires, but to place such desires in an unstable mind and then turn her into an object of threat and intimidation skirted too close to prejudice, especially as it was Helen's sole defining characteristic. If you could deal with that, then there were compensations in Larraz's way with a shot mixing lyricism with rural disquiet; the mood was the biggest strength here, and with its creeping pace and sense of something terrible about to happen, never mind having already happened, this was easier to appreciate tonally than thematically. Music by John Scott.
Reviewer: Graeme Clark

 

This review has been viewed 4166 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
Enoch Sneed
Darren Jones
  Louise Hackett
Mark Le Surf-hall
Andrew Pragasam
Mary Sibley
Graeme Clark
  Desbris M
   

 

Last Updated: