A. Moncrieff Reply to on 2 January 2013
|It's no masterpiece, or even a terrific movie, but I really liked it! There are really only three actors who spring to mind as being capable of being able to (emotionally) "explode" - Klaus Kinski would obviously be top, Samuel L. Jackson could do it, but Brad Dourif was a really good choice. Right between doing the first Child's Play and playing the Gemini killer in one of my top horror films, Exorcist III, Brad took on a rare leading role in this film and he's really quite good, despite being saddled with some rather weak dialogue here and there. In this film, he gets to do a lovely variation on his soft-speaking, genuine nice and sensitive guy (ala his Academy Award Nominated turn as Billy Babbit in One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest) AND be shouty and incredibly intense. Note how awesome his voice is for both of these.
The opening scenes are quite awkward - they are recreations of the '50s, more TV movie than Back to the Future - and they culminate in some of the worst fire effects I've ever seen (John "Star Wars" Dykstra is credited as a effects consultant on this film, if you can believe that). These scenes should have been cut, but having said that, they're pretty vital to the story! So sit tight and point out the people you recognize from other b-movies, like the guy who was the living Ventriloquist dummy in "Silent Night, Deadly Night 5: The Toy Maker". The rest of the film picks up a little, alternating between surprisingly well acted (the scenes with Brad Dourif in them) and typical late eighties shenanigans. There's a lot of fun scenes where people make Sam, Brad Dourif's character, really angry and fire erupts, occasionally engulfing the object of his anger in flames (including at one point, director John Landis).
Tobe Hooper was never really one of the heavyweights for me, despite having a near-household name. Three of his other movies I honestly love (Texas Chainsaw Massacre Parts 1 and 2 and The Funhouse), and about three or four of the others I can honestly say I enjoy (Eaten Alive, Lifeforce, Salem's Lot, this movie). This was his follow up to TCM 2, a great and fun movie but not a hit at it's release in 1986, so three years Tobe developed a new project himself, which became SC.
It's no classic, but considering how cheap DVD copies of it are, you really can't go wrong. Brad Dourif will make it worth your while!