Saturday, October 13, 2012
31 Days of Halloween - Day 13 - Movie
At a time when gothic horror was rapidly being replaced with science fiction, The Maze (1953), directed by William Cameron Menzies and starring Richard Carlson was a bit of a throwback to the traditional old dark house type of thriller. After being summoned to his ancestral castle, Gerald McTeam (Carlson) breaks off his engagement to his fiance, Kitty (Veronica Hurst). Sensing something is wrong, Kitty travels, along with her dour aunt, to the castle to discover Gerald prematurely aged and harsh and distant to her, insisting that she leaves at once. Secretive servants, strange footprints, wet shuffling sounds, fog shrouded grounds, forbidden rooms and a large topiary maze all add to the strange mystery as to what's really going on at the castle.
As a mystery, The Maze is incredibly successful, pulling the viewer in at once and keeping them involved, and guessing all the way through. There's also a very Lovecraftian feel to the story, especially as clues to the true nature of things start dropping into place. The only drawback is that the movie does such an impressive job in building up anticipation to the big revelation that when it finally arrives, it's oddly confounding and disappointing. It turns out this is a minor quibble. Even with the less than impressive answer to the mystery, there is still something unnatural, and tragic about it that The Maze manages to overcome it in its final moments. I think if it was approached as being more dark fantasy or fairy tale-like in its intention, which it certainly is in some regards, than a straight horror film, the unveiling of the secret would be less jarring than it is.