May 21st, 2008

EYE OF THE DEVIL (1967) **

David Niven stars as a winemaker who is summoned back to his ancestral home under mysterious circumstances.  He tells his frumpy wife (Deborah Kerr) to stay put, but she tags along anyway with their snotty kids in tow and is privy to a series of weird shenanigans and going-ons involving a sinister Satanist cult. 


Eye of the Devil has an A-List cast, a healthy budget, and some glossy visual pizzazz, but for a die hard horror movie fan, that won’t mean a heck of a lot.  This is strictly a Hollywood-ized version of a horror flick, and although it does have one or two memorable moments (like when Niven whips the shit out of Sharon Tate with a riding crop or when Tate tries to hypnotize Kerr into falling off a castle turret), for the most part, it’s far too slow moving to be truly rewarding. 


While Eye of the Devil may have made for a mediocre episode of The Twilight Zone or Outer Limits, it’s flimsy premise is stretched too thin for too long for it to make much of an impression.  The film was directed with a lot of style by J. Lee (Happy Birthday to Me) Thompson and while he delivers a slick looking movie, it’s completely devoid of chills.  Thompson does know how to pile on the atmosphere (guys wearing Satanist robes abound), but the pieces really never add up to anything remotely suspenseful or scary. 


Comparisons to The Wicker Man are unavoidable (about every review I’ve ever read about this movie mentions it), but at least Wicker Man had lots of scenes of Britt Ekland running around naked.  This flick features the late Sharon Tate in a skintight catsuit, but that’s about it.  The all-star cast (which includes Donald Pleaseance and David Hemmings) is quite good, but their work is all for naught as the film is just too dull to be fully compelling. 


AKA:  13.