Tuesday, October 22, 2013


In a room with black candles, a female Satanist is chanting, conjuring up a demon. Horrified at what she's done, she grabs a gun to kill herself—and then we discover that we're watching the filming of a low-budget horror movie. The film is being shot on location in the creepy old Beal mansion tended by an old caretaker who knows the house's history. In fact, a string of occult-related deaths that happened there over the years has inspired the movie's script. After the various relationships and tensions between cast and crew members have been established, one of the actresses reads aloud from a real copy of the Tibetan Book of the Dead, which, unknown to the crew, brings back to life a dead spirit who seems to be re-enacting the Beal deaths with the actors. The choice of the Tibetan book, an actual religious text which describes the experience of death and the afterlife (and inspired the lyrics of The Beatles' "Tomorrow Never Knows") seems odd, especially when books of Black Masses are mentioned as also being in the house. The movie, like the movie-within-the-movie, is low-budget but has a handful of effective scenes and decent performances from pro actors John Ireland (the director), Faith Domergue (the insecure leading lady) and John Carradine (Mr. Price, the creepy caretaker, who most of the crew call Vincent). The other performers are acceptable if not memorable, which is a good description of the movie. A little toying is done with audience expectations, especially effective in a couple of scenes in which we're not sure if we're seeing the film being shot or real events occurring. [TCM]

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