25 July 2016

THE APPOINTMENT. (1981) REVIEW BY SANDRA HARRIS.




THE APPOINTMENT. (1981) WRITTEN AND DIRECTED BY LINDSEY C. VICKERS. MUSIC BY TREVOR JONES. CINEMATOGRAPHY BY BRIAN WEST. STUNTS BY RICHARD HAMMATT (STUNT ARRANGER) AND ALAN STEWART (CAR STUNT DRIVER).
STARRING EDWARD WOODWARD, JANE MERROW AND SAMANTHA WEYSOM. REVIEW BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©

This is a creepy-as-hell little film from what many people consider to be the golden age of horror movies. I happen to agree with them. You can't beat the 'Seventies and 'Eighties for great British and American horror flicks. This film in particular is startlingly good and it's very, very frightening.

It has so much to commend it that it's hard to know where to start. For one thing, it stars Edward Woodward (1930-2009) of THE WICKER MAN and THE EQUALIZER fame. A stage actor to begin with, he's probably best known for his marvellous performance in THE WICKER MAN, the 1973 film by Robin Hardy who sadly passed away earlier this year.

Woodward plays Sgt. Neil Howie, the 'Christian copper' who travels to the Scottish island of Summerisle from the mainland in search of a missing child. If you've seen this cult film, possibly the best British movie ever made and a magnificent example of the folk horror genre, you'll know exactly what he finds there instead. His performance is so convincing that, once seen, you won't forget it.

One other interesting fact about him (one of many!) is that his second wife, whom he married in 1987, was the actress Michele Dotrice. Michele, of course, was best known for playing the long-suffering Betty Spencer, wife of the accident-prone Frank, in 'Seventies British sitcom SOME MOTHERS DO 'AVE 'EM.

We've all seen poor Betty crying: 'Oh, Frank!' when faced with another of her gormless hubby's monumental screw-ups. That was one of the truly great sitcoms, like FAWLTY TOWERS, ONE FOOT IN THE GRAVE, KEEPING UP APPEARANCES and our own Irish offering, FATHER TED.

Anyway, Edward Woodward's performance in this little-shown but utterly superb British horror film is as flawless as you might expect. He plays Ian, a man who has to go away on business overnight, an ordinary enough occurrence but one which will cause him to miss his daughter Joanna's violin recital at school. He should be thankful, heh-heh-heh.

Joanna's not very happy about it though, naturally. Because she's a gifted musician, she's been somewhat spoilt and she makes her Daddy feel tremendously guilty about missing her recital. Kids!

The night before he has to go away, Dad has highly disturbing dreams about crashing his car on his journey to his titular appointment. Oddly enough, while he's asleep and dreaming, his wife is having more or less the same dream. That surely has to be a premonition of some sort.

Their beautiful country house (not a mansion, but big enough!) is bloody terrifying in the dead of night. Dark shadows abound and the creepy musical score gets ten out of ten for, well, creepiness. It helps to create an atmosphere of intense spookiness. Not only spookiness, but also sheer evil.

There's something evil in the house, but it's not just in the house. It's shrouding the whole family in a putrefying blanket of darkness everywhere they go. Think I'm exaggerating? Watch the film for yourself and you'll see what I mean, haha. A feeling of impending doom hangs over Ian, his wife Dianna and his daughter Joanna. Something is definitely out to get them, though they don't know it yet.

We know that the teenage daughter Joanna's been communing in the nearby woods with something unseen and, we assume, unpleasant and supernatural. After all, at the beginning of the film we saw a local schoolgirl being literally sucked into the same woods by an unknown entity of enormous power.

Those three or four minutes (You-tube them!) are possibly the scariest few minutes I've ever seen at the start of any film. Watching the schoolgirl taking the deserted path through the lonely woods while all around her unseen voices chatter and giggle and call her name just about made me wee myself with fright, especially as the ghostly voices are calling out: 'Sandie! Saaaaaaandie...!,' a name I've been known to go by myself on occasion.

Now, in the dark of night, three big black dogs make their way into the house and pad silently and menacingly up the stairs. Yes, you can too pad menacingly, just watch them for yourself and see! The build-up of suspense is superb. Knowing that the dogs were in the house, I was literally hiding behind my hands as Edward Woodward got up out of bed after his bad dream and went downstairs for some hot milk and a read of the paper to distract himself.

The dogs are definitely bad news in the film. In Ian's dream, they were the cause of his crashing his car. And remember the way that Old Nick took the form of a big black dog in THE OMEN? Yeah. Big black dogs are not portents of glad tidings in the movies. Rather, they are a sign that some real bad shit is going down.

And they're not the only creatures stalking through The Equalizer's family home that night either, but I'd rather be tickled to death than give away this shocking secret. Will the (mostly) unsuspecting little family make it through this terrible night? And if they do, what happens next? The evil that surrounds them like a filthy miasma surely won't be content until it's extracted a blood sacrifice...

The stunts in the film are, quite frankly, spectacular. Kudos to the stunt arrangers. They've done an amazing job. The scenery is gorgeous too and the haunted woods are scarier than the woods in THE BLAIR WITCH PROJECT. We only see a lonely pathway but the film-makers have managed to imbue it with a sinister menace and malevolence and an overwhelming sense of evil. It takes talent to do that.

There was a lot of stuff to do with Dad's car being in the garage for a service that I didn't quite follow and was a little bored by but, ultimately, THE APPOINTMENT is a cracking little horror film from a period that's turned out some seriously top-notch horror films. I would recommend it to any horror fan. And if my personal seal of approval doesn't make you want to rush right off and watch it, then frankly, I don't know what will...!

AUTHOR BIOGRAPHY OF SANDRA HARRIS.

Sandra Harris is a Dublin-based novelist, film blogger and movie reviewer. She has studied Creative Writing and Film-Making. She has published a number of e-books on the following topics: horror film reviews, multi-genre film reviews, womens' fiction, erotic fiction, erotic horror fiction and erotic poetry. Several new books are currently in the pipeline. You can browse or buy any of Sandra's books by following the link below straight to her Amazon Author Page:

http://www.amazon.com/-/e/B015GDE5RO

 You can contact Sandra at:


http://sandrafirstruleoffilmclubharris.wordpress.com







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