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May 09, 2008


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ILoz Zoc

Thanks! We aim to please.

Silent running

Geez! This page is great. And it has so much details about the movies production...
I just remembered this old flick this night and googled with 4 keywords and here I am, and thus have the name I had forgotten over the years.
And lucky me, DVDs are also available :-)
Thank you so much!

The Vicar of VHS

This is one of those movies that I discovered as a wee lad simply by staying up with my brother on Friday Night to watch the Late Night Scare Show--back in the days of 3 channels + PBS, before DVD or even VHS, days of scouring the TV guide for anything vaguely horror-sounding and taking your chances. Discoveries like that--finding something golden virtually by chance--make my memories of some films all the more special, and I sort of lament the fact that todays horror kiddies will not--cannot--have the same experience.

Of course, they'll miss a lot of worthless crap and disappointment that way too, so maybe it evens out.

As to the movie, though, I totally agree that showing the demon is essential. It trades the tension of uncertainty--maybe it IS all in their heads?--for the tension of certainty--it's definitely NOT. But you've said that a lot better than I could. On the broader point, however, there is this largely unquestioned belief that the best version of a film has to be the one that the director imagined, unencumbered by budget restrictions or studio interference or script tinkering by censors. That sounds great on the surface, but on closer examination it's the same as saying a novel would always be better without the interference of an agent or copyeditor. Obviously not so--some authors NEED focusing and proofreading, and I posit that some movies need restrictions in order to bring out their best.

I saw a movie recently by a widely respected and revered horror director that was "unencumbered" by studio interference, and it was so bad it made me wonder if the work he is revered for might have actually benefited from the interference the fanboys decry. I think studio interference CAN hurt movies, certainly, but I don't think it's always the case--sometimes quite the opposite.

ILoz Zoc

Steve, I agree with you about the fire demon. It's a brilliant concept to depict, I just wish more money and effort was spent on it. You're right about when seeing it as a kid it looks frightening real. I remember being pretty scared myself. Perhaps because the film was originally going for a rating to allow kids to see it the effects team realized they didn't need to be perfect. Contrary to what some critics say, I find the close-up of the face quite impressive. It has a nightmarish quality to it and, as you've said, has graced many a horror magazine cover and pages. Bottom line, adding the demon is crucial to set the tone for the urgency of Holden's need to believe. I would not have wanted the film to be nebulous about that.


One of my all-time favorite films as you can probably guess (and MRJ is of course my all-time favorite author.) I've read countless reviews that state the demon itself is the film's "weakest link" and to my dying day I will continue to disagree wholeheartedly... and despite all the Hal E. Chester haters and statements from people whose opinion I greatly admire (like Tourneur and Bennett), the demon is without question essential to the film, and more memorable because it is there, there in the trees! When I first saw this film as a child the demon creation terrified me to no end, and did not seem fake even in the least bit. Does the '33 King Kong look like a puppet? Of course it does, and so what? I'll always believe it was a very smart move to include the demon in the film (there's a demon in Casting the Runes so why not the movie too?) As a blossoming monster kid in the late 60's / early 70's I would have hated the "psycological / implied" approach originally intended and thus the film would have remained more in the Hitchcock realm of adult horror and not as one of the greatest monster movies of all time (where it deserves to prowl with Kong, Creature from the Black Lagoon, etc...) Also, if they had never inserted the demon into the film, think of all those great monster magazine covers from the 60's and 70's we would have missed out on!

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