61 Days of Halloween: Macabre (1980)
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I’m going to warn you right now that this is one of those films that makes me glad I didn’t decide to employ my rating scale and rather talk about narratives, themes, techniques, almost anything above quantifying how much or how little I enjoyed the film. For those of you who have to know (and I admit being in this vein myself) when ultimately deciding if this film sinks or swims I think I have to say sink. However, it’s one of those where there’s plot elements, and portions of it so well-handled that you’d like to see it get remade (that is assuming of course you do dislike it).
One of the things that does work about Macabre is that each of the three main characters is dealing with their own baggage. Jane (Bernice Steggers) is supposedly recovered after she spent time in an asylum following the tragic, nearly simultaneous deaths of her son and lover; Robert (Stanko Molnar) carries a torch for her and Lucy (Veronica Zinny) drowned her little brother and no one knows. Each has a secret, each is a little disturbed. The interplay that eventually comes into the mix is great.
However, and if you check the IMDb synopsis you can kind of fill in this blank. The film, after the teaser sequence, which establishes the affair and two deaths then spends the rest of Act I more or less reassembling the pieces of Jane’s life a year later. In Act II, if you haven’t figured out exactly what she’s hiding, you’re close, and the film plays that game quite a bit, it slows things down greatly. There is also probably a scene too many of Robert feeling rejected and obviously pining. In Act II there is are several bouts of repetition and lack of narrative thrust.
Where it gets frustrating, and here’s where it falls into a re-makable film category, is that there is nary a misstep in Act III; its a climax that (as you’re seeing the pieces fall into place) you want to see occur and most of what goes on there is great and well-handled.
Lamberto Bava has had his moments but this is one I can’t help feeling was maybe better served with another draft (who knows maybe some things hit the cutting room floor that would’ve made the flow feel a bit more natural) or perhaps waiting on this idea. That’s mere speculation on my part because, as I said there were combined elements that made me want to like this one, but in the end, I couldn’t and that was disappointing.