July 11, 2012

Voices (1973)

"After her young son accidentally drowns, a woman has a breakdown and is finally placed in a mental hospital. After her release, her husband takes her for a weekend at a secluded country mansion, hoping to help her recover."

Since several people have now uploaded it to YouTube, I have taken the liberty of embedding the full version of "Voices" above for your viewing pleasure. If you like ghostie films and have never heard of "Voices" before, this is your chance to see one of the major influences on the subgenre, especially as it's never likely to be released on DVD.

According to my sources, "Voices" (also known as "Nightmare") was available on VHS many years ago, but finding a copy of it seems to be even more difficult (and financially prohibitive) than getting "The Haunting Passion" (1983) unless you want a bootleg from eBay.

Most horror fans of my generation and the one before probably saw "Voices" on television back in the early '80s, and although it isn't a great film, the twist ending makes it a memorable one.

Starring David Hemmings and Gayle Hunnicutt, who were married to each other in real life at the time, "Voices" initially seems like a lot of blabbering about nothing mainly set in one room. There's a reason for that, of course, since it was based on a stage play and was a remake of an episode of ITV's "Armchair Theatre" from a couple of years earlier.

For the first 30 minutes or so, all David Hemming's character does is complain or make patronising, condescending and unfunny observational comments. Gayle Hunnicutt seems to only be around to look beautiful as always and appear normal in comparison. But stay with it because, in spite of the awful dialogue and horrible characters, there's a good story underneath it all which is struggling to get out.

As you may have guessed, I had a huge crush on Gayle Hunnicutt when I was growing up even though she always looked really "solid" in movies and wasn't a delicate little thing. She was never fat or anything, but to me, she seemed to be someone who I don't imagine anyone could ever lift off the ground without getting a hernia. I have a strange imagination, I know, but something about her seemed unnatural. It was if she was made of lead although I would also describe her as being very much "built for pleasure" in her prime.

David Hemmings, on the other hand, I don't really know too much about even though he was in all sorts of things and quite a regular face on British TV. I last saw him briefly in "Equilibrium" (2002) so I was suprised when I looked him up on the IMDb and found out that he died a year after making that film while on the set of another one.

This isn't a review as such because, like all movies with a twist, it's hard to say anything without spoiling it for you. I want you to watch this for yourself. When you get to the end and think, "Hey, that was just like [insert name of movie most obviously inspired by this one here]!", you'll know just how I feel whenever I watch anything "new" in the horror genre nowadays.

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