Friday, August 26, 2011

Crescendo (1970)

Director: Alan Gibson

Starring: Stefanie Powers, James Olson, Margaretta Scott, Jane Lapotaire, Joss Ackland, Kirsten Lindholm

More info: IMDb

Tagline: The night the loving ended and the killing began!

Plot: Susan (Powers) is offered the chance to stay at a dead composer's house for the summer, which will apparently help her write her thesis on the great man's work. Once there she meets his widow Danielle (mad), his son George (mad and wheelchair-bound, with a pechant for hard drugs and bad dreams), the maid (French, mad, deeply unattractive and prone to removing clothes at every opportunity) and the butler.

My rating: 5/10

Will I watch it again? Nope.

#37 on Hammer Horror (1957-1976)

For the most part I've kind of dug the studio's earlier efforts into thrillers but this one left me scratching my head. If it were in black & white like most of their previous ones it would have better served the film, but that's not the movie's biggest problem. There are two major issues, the derivative plot and the score. I don't think I've ever faulted a movie for not giving us anything new. There's barely been a fresh idea in the past few decades. It's all been done before but it's how it's done that can make a picture work or not. CRESCENDO plods along, dragging its heels hoping you're still following it when the credits roll at the end.

The other major issue I have is Malcolm Williamson's score. Wow. Just. Wow. It doesn't work and has no place in this picture - maybe if it were made 15 or more years earlier but not in 1970. Have you ever seen a way below average Italian giallo (thriller) picture with a horrendously ill-fittingly bad score? That's what this sounded like. Woof.

OK, let me get this straight. Susan's getting her master's degree in music but she's "not really" a musician. I'm a musician with a degree in music and I can't think of a music degree out there that doesn't require you to be, oh I don't know, A MUSICIAN. Can someone please shed some light on this for me? Meanwhile back at the estate...

No, no. Please don't, please!


Usually the Hammer films at least have some pretty solid acting. The only performance that stood out for me was Stefanie Powers. Although I don't recall watching it, I remember bits and pieces of the TV show she did in the 80s called HART TO HART. It seems she's always been gorgeous. I was very surprised to see this...

Hubba hubba. Bare breasts or not, she did an admirable job which helped but I wasn't buying her character's motivation for staying with the family. It just didn't make any sense unless she REALLY is the type of person who is attracted to people who need tending to. I was perplexed. With all the batshit weirdo behavior from everybody else in that house, thesis or no thesis, my ass would've bought a one-way ticket to Splitsville.

I'm very pleased to put this one behind me. In my quest to watch every Hammer horror flick, I have a good feeling the worst is now behind me. In hindsight, this one probably shouldn't even be on the list but then I had to watch it to discover that for myself. It's now available as a burn-on-demand disc from the Warner Archive Collection which looks much better than the copy I saw. I've said too much.

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