Friday, October 17, 2014

31 Days of Halloween - Day 17 - Movie 1

Thirteen-year old Lila (Cheryl Smith) the beloved singer in a church, receives a letter from a woman named Lemora (Lesley Gilb) telling her that she needs to come visit her gangster father before he dies. Lila leaves the reverend she lives with to do so, because she feels it's the good Christian thing to do. Her trip is like one long weird fairy tale journey into the haunted forest, or through the underworld. The town where she needs to catch her bus is populated by the dregs of human society, and the bus is meant for her alone. The bus is assaulted along the way by strange, formerly human creatures. From there Lila is dropped into the hands of witches and vampires including a batch of creepy undead children. Lemora is an odd, distant, cold, beauty like one of Disney's evil queens by way of Dracula's daughter, and her interactions with Lila are a predatory lesbian seduction. Each time Lila's will is tested, she takes strength in her beliefs as a Christian to turn away from sin, leading one to suspect that this movie is really a cautionary tale for teenagers thinking of running away from home made by a religious organization. That is until the end of the movie.

Lemora: A Child's Tale of the Supernatural (1973) is an odd movie. It's pretty amateurish in its production, screenwriting, and much of its acting, but it never seems laughable. In fact it's really compelling to watch. The various creatures on screen have pretty rough make-up, so that I couldn't honestly tell you how many different types of monsters there are. There could be vampires, werewolves, and whatever those things were that attacked the bus, or they could all be vampires. Instead of being a detriment, this is a real strength. The no frills make-up seem to make these creatures a bit disturbing, as does the choice of sound effects applied to them to create their growling and snarling. Likewise, the vampire children, who look like normal kids, only their laughter is too loud and obviously not coming from them, making it far creepier. The one touch to make the kids physically monstrous is a nice surprise, and not over the top. Lesley Gilb as Lemora is the best part of the movie. There's a very quiet stillness to her predatory role, making her seem like a spider slowly trying to draw her prey across her web to where she can snatch it. She never even seems to blink, adding a further hypnotic element to her performance.

I think people will either love, or hate this movie, but it will stick with them either way.

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