Saturday, April 17, 2021

Couple's Therapy

Barbara Crampton and Larry Fessenden in Jakob's Wife

I sometimes wonder what would have happened if Brian De Palma had cast Barbara Crampton as the lead in Body Double, rather than as Craig Wasson's faithless girlfriend. It was Crampton's first film role, and her one scene in the film only asked her to take her clothes off for the part. Crampton, for her part, has proven to be a more capable actress than either of that film's ostensible leading ladies. Deborah Shelton had her lines dubbed by another actress in the movie (perhaps as one of the film's metacinematic in-jokes), while Melanie Griffith was launched into the big time with indifferent results. One wonders what Crampton might have made of that kind of career launch. For her part, Crampton attained cult immortality in Chopping Mall, and in a trio of films for Stuart Gordon. I'll take her performance in From Beyond over any performance ever given by Melanie Griffith, thank you very much. She worked for years in soap operas after that and then vanished from the screen for a decade or so in order to raise a family. She could have slipped quietly into obscurity had Adam Wingard not cast her as one of the victims in You're Next. What followed was an unlikely career resurrection that has seen Crampton expand her cult immortality in a series of daring horror movies. The capstone for this resurrection is Jakob's Wife (2021, directed by Travis Stevens), which Crampton produced herself and which co-stars fellow horror luminary, Larry Fessenden.

Monday, February 01, 2021

Hammer Time

Mortal (2020)

In the mostly silent opening of André Øvredal's latest film, Mortal (2020), there is a huge sense of landscape. Even once the film moves out of its initial wilderness about ten minutes in, the landscape is ever-present. Filmed on location near a couple of Norway's more scenic fjords, it acts as a tourist promo to a point that I said to my long-suffering partner--who was folding laundry in the other room at the time--"What do you think about moving to Norway?" "What's in Norway?" she asked. "Fjords! This movie is gorgeous!" She waited two beats before answering: "So you're pining for the fjords?" She has excellent timing.