★★★★ = Excellent. The best the genre has to offer.
★★★1/2 = Very Good. Perhaps not "perfect," but undoubtedly a must-see.
★★★ = Good. Accomplishes what it sets out to do and does it well.
★★1/2 = Fair. Clearly flawed and nothing spectacular, but competently made. OK entertainment.
★★ = Mediocre. Either highly uneven or by-the-numbers and uninspired.
★1/2 = Bad. Very little to recommend.
★ = Very Bad. An absolute chore to sit through.
NO STARS! = Abysmal. Unwatchable dreck that isn't even bad-movie amusing.
SBIG = So Bad It's Good. Technically awful movies with massive entertainment value.
Monday, July 20, 2009
Mrs. Amworth (1975)
One of many failed attempts to launch a television series, this 29-minute British short was to be the first entry in a horror/fantasy series entitled Classics Dark and Deadly. The series never took off and instead this was shown as a TV special (which only aired a single time), was released separately on VHS (in England only) and was then worked into a three-part horror anthology called THREE DANGEROUS LADIES (1977), which also included the shorts MANNIKIN (1975), an independent production about a cursed singer made by Donald W. Thompson and starring Ronee Blakely and Keir Dullea, and THE ISLAND (197?), which was directed by Robert Fuest, stars John Hurt and Charles Gray and whose origins are unknown. Perhaps it was filmed especially to round out the anthology.
Glynis Johns (whose role in MARY POPPINS is played up big time on the somewhat misleading video box) has the title role. She's just moved to a tiny Wiltshire village populated primarily with older residents and claims to be a descendant from a family that lived there many years ago. Mrs. Amworth's presence, and frequent social gatherings at her mansion, have seemed to bring life to an otherwise boring little town, but she's also hiding a deep dark secret. Shortly after Amworth's arrival, many of the town's citizens have come down with a strange disorder where the hemoglobin seems to be disappearing from their blood. It's blamed on a gnat outbreak (!) but resident cynic Dr. Francis Urcombe (John Phillips) is suspicious of Amworth's frequent midnight strolls and how the plague of illness coincides perfectly with her arrival. Doing some research, he discovers the new lady in town is somehow related the Elizabeth Chaston, a witch who was held responsible when similar things happened three-hundred years earlier. Urcombe tries to convince his friend Benson (Derek Francis) - whose visiting grandson David (Pip Miller) has gotten quite ill - to help him.
There's definitely not much to write home about here. The acting isn't bad, but it's all rather predictable, forgettable and lacking in suspense and chills.