2008 Movie Round-up #7

We watched the films below as part of our last lecture class in Media Ethics a few weeks ago. All films are Hollywood productions made in the 1970’s.

The Abominable Dr. Phibes Lost HorizonThe Boys From Brazil

The Abominable Dr. Phibes (1971, USA, dir. Robert Fuest) is about a doctor set on exacting torturous revenge on nine other doctors on whose hands his wife died. His ways and means of executing such murders are based on the Old Testament curses of the Pharaoh and the people of Egypt during the time of Moses. The methods can be quite ingenious, if you ask me, from being eaten to the skull by locusts to being frozen to death inside a car. The movie makes no pretensions of being an honest-to-goodness straight horror film and as such, is really a campy cult film that is expectedly obnoxious and sick. From the weird art deco sets and costumes to the actual methods of the deaths, it can get quite bothersome. Which I think is exactly what it intends to be.

Lost Horizon (1973, USA, dir. Charles Jarrott), the 1973 motion-picture adaptation of a novel of the same name, is about a group of foreigners who escape a war-torn Asian country who crash and end up in a hidden utopian society in the mountains of Himalayas called Shangrila. Just when the group of English-speaking foreigners get used to and enjoy the utopian life in Shangrila, some of them slowly find out that their being there wasn’t an accident after all, and that the utopia they were lead to believe in may actually be a grand hoax and a conspiracy. The entire film is filled with philosophical meanderings and musical number ala Sound of Music, which can be entertaining, but can also get quite silly as it piles up. Also, for an attempt at recreating a utopian society on film, the movie is actually very hegemonic and Western in representation! The film is a apparently notorious for being disastrous at the box office and among critics. Fair enough a judgement if you ask me.

The Boys From Brazil (1978, USA, dir. Franklin J. Schaffner) is about the sinister attempt by a post-war Nazi organization of self-exiled war criminals lead by a death-camp physician hiding in South America, to recreate the glory of the Third Reich by cloning its leader, the Fuhrer, Adolf Hitler himself. Such plans are thwarted through the investigative attempts of a Nazi war criminal-hunter who, in the process, discover more and more about the details of this very evil and sinister plot. The movie is a worthwhile thriller, but it had the tendency to be quite dragging. It took quite a while before it revealed what the murders were all about and what the sinister plan really is, ad then goes on further after that. The premise is very interesting material, really, however I think it could’ve been shot and told better.

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