Monday, January 14, 2013

Guest Review: DARK AUGUST (1976)

To properly introduce Stephen Bissette, our latest guest reviewer, I'd have to write an essay five times longer than the review itself! Mr. Bissette's artwork first caught my attention in the pages of Bananas magazine in the late '70s, but it was the awesome graphic novel adaptation of 1941 that burned his name into my mind forever. Years later, I was thrilled to see my writing appear alongside his in the pages of Fangoria, European 'Trash' Cinema and Wet Paint. Myriad comic book sites, message boards and Wikipedia can tell you the rest, but I highly recommend Steve's excellent blog and fully stocked online store as your next stops. Without further ado, here's Steve with a review of DARK AUGUST! -- Chris P.

Director: Martin Goldman

A flatlander’s nightmare: brooding, burly New Yorker (J.J. Barry) moves to Vermont, where his accidental hit-and-run killing of a little girl (Karen Lewis) leaves him perpetually looking over his shoulder, fearing the backwoods hoodoo retribution of the child’s grandfather (William Robertson).

Compelling but none too scary, in part due to Barry’s unlikable lead. Still, it’s competently made, mounts some effective suspense, and fascinates with its manifest dread of the very land and people its brutish urban protagonist aches to live among. Stowe, Vermont locals and/or vacationers will want to seek this out for the snapshot of the village in its mid-1970s prime; one sustained confrontation between Barry and Robertson is staged downtown by the fire station, affording a lingering view and plenty of townie talent and extras.

Co-starring Academy Award-winner Kim Hunter (for A STREETCAR NAMED DESIRE, 1951), who is a standout as the rural psychic Barry consults seeking relief; co-scripted by Goldman and lead actress Carole Shelyne, and reportedly filmed in 1975 under the title THE HANT. This PG-rated thriller tasted fleeting theatrical distribution in the US (from Howard Mahler Films, Inc.) and Mexico before its surprisingly wide video release (from Lightning Video in North America and at least two labels in the UK, and other overseas videocassette outfits). Note: Though it didn’t make it into the film version (SILVER BULLET, 1985), Stowe VT is where the young hero of Stephen King’s The Cycle of the Werewolf (1984) was sent to spend the rest of his summer with relatives – after having survived the events of King’s novella.
©2012 Stephen R. Bissette


Thomas T. Sueyres said...

Damn, and that poster promises so much.

mimie said...

bonsoir thomas ça fais un moment que je cherche ce film mais introuvable ci tu la pourrais tu le mettre un grand merci a toi

jj moran said...

My brother was in that movie!!!!