Friday, April 25, 2008

The Greatest Movie...

... in which we learn the very important lesson,
"Blind people shouldn't ride out-of-control horses"?

See No Evil (1971)

Yes, that's supposed to be poster-child-for-frailty Mia Farrow up there getting tossed like a rag-doll off of a galloping horse. As if she wouldn't explode into a billion specks of dust upon such an impact.

See No Evil (aka Blind Terror) came out three years after Rosemary's Baby and once again (besides the above-documented ridiculous instance - seriously; this shit would've killed Mia Farrow) used Farrow's tiny bird-like frame as an in-road to the audience's sympathies. Putting someone so very delicate into horrific circumstances will do that, after all; add on the fact that Farrow's character is blind in this film and I found myself just sort of grimacing for the last hour of this film.

(blind = cross-eyed, apparently)

Did I say hour? Yeah, this 1971 flick gives The Texas Chain Saw Massacre a run for its money in giving the audience a non-stop sadism-athon in which our female protagonist must spend a hefty chunk of running time, well, running. And screaming and being flung about from inexplicable terrors. Sally of TCM's horrors were inexplicable for being, well, inexplicable (hello, flesh-mask!), while Sarah, Farrow's character, faces an hour of screen-time's worth of things she can't comprehend because she can't see anything and is flung from the safety of her house into the wilderness.

The TCM reference is apt, though, because that's what came to mind as I watched Sarah's ordeal. Director Richard Fleischer doesn't skimp on showing us what it would be like for a blind person to suddenly be lost in the woods. He keeps this section of the film slow and quiet and dirty - Farrow spends half her time being smacked in the face by branches or falling down hills and rolling in the mud. It's a bit harrowing, needless to say.

What's got Mia Farrow running off on a crazy horse anyway? There's a murderer on the loose! One that we only see via his Wonder Woman boots.

Chilling, huh? Did somebody really think those boots were going to be scary? Because they most assuredly are the exact opposite of intimidating. I kept expecting him to do a twirl under a shower of sparkles.

(SPOILERS AHEAD) See, the film begins as Sarah's just moved back to her Aunt's house after going blind in a horse-riding accident. Yes, she starts riding horses again within days. While blind. I don't know, I guess we're supposed to be impressed with her fortitude. Just seemed dead stupid to me. Anyway, some weirdo in Wonder Woman boots has seen too many giallos and decides to make with his own killin' spree. Sarah's out on one of her rides and comes home thinking everyone's out... she goes about her business, blind as ever... never realizing... she's walking amongst her family's corpses!!! Dun dun dun!!!

Unfortunately for Sarah - well, beyond all the many other assorted unfortunates, that is - the killer left his forget-me-not pendant behind...

"Paradise Island 4-Ever!"

... and comes back to the house just as she's discovered the bodies. Cue Sarah running off on a crazy horse and spending her afternoon face-down in a pile of mud. Add a hefty dose of possibly-evil Gypsies and hello movie.

See No Evil is worth seeking out, however snarky I maybe feel inclined to get at some of its let's say eccentricities. I've never been much of a fan of the whole "blind woman in peril" genre - save Wait Until Dark, of course (Audrey Hepburn and heroin-dolls!) - but this one manages pretty well at capturing the horror of a lack of sight when surrounded by danger.

Plus Mia falls down a lot.


Catherine said...

Hey, "Wait Until Dark"!. Great movie. Nobody talks about it, though.

This reminds me of when I went to see The Village in the cinema when it came out. I must have been half-asleep or just in a really retarded mood, but I actually didn't get that Bryce Dallas Howard's character was blind until at least an hour in. At one point, I leaned over and whispered to my friend, "Wait...she can't SEE?". I still get teased about that.

Jason Adams said...

Alan Arkin is such a great creep in WUD.

Hee, re: Bryce's blindness. Acting blind has got to be a pain the the ass. Mia was not very good at it, to be honest; her character, very recently blind, was incredibly good at just plunking her hand on the thing she needed to a little too often. It's gotta be a pain in the ass, moving the story along without spending half an hour having somebody feel for a door-knob.

Anonymous said...

I actually watched this one back at the end of last year. I thought it was pretty great until the final 10 minutes, which I felt were a total nonsensical cop out...maybe I missed something, but it all just felt very abrupt and hasty...still, an enjoyable romp for a while...

Jason Adams said...

The movie does topple over like Mia on a slippery floor there at the end, shaun, you are correct. The bathroom scene is just plain silly; she can't see what's going on yet immediately starts making out with her boyfriend seconds after some strange hands just tried to drown her. How does she know it wasn't her boyfriend actually trying to drown her? The actual perp never makes a noise. And we get this "from her POV" shot going under the water that just makes no sense whatsoever.