Saturday, August 29, 2015

The House of Clocks (1989)

In the 1970's and '80's, Italian horror was big overseas, but come the tail end of the 80's, things had taken a sharp downturn, and by the 90's, it was in a slump. People had just lost interest, and 'Godfather of Gore' Lucio Fulci had also waned, only making four movies over the decade, none of which are exactly his most popular works, to put it lightly. Even as early as the late 1980's, Fulci just didn't make 'em like he used to. His 1989 effort House of Clocks though is actually quite an underrated movie, in my opinion...

A sinister old couple live alone in their grand old villa, living happily, despite the fact that they're brutal killers, having murdered their nephew and niece, and keep their bodies nailed to slabs in a crypt. One day, things go wrong for them when a trio of thieves invade their house, causing the couple's death. The burglars are shocked, having wanted to resolve things without bloodshed. They're now stuck in the villa due to the vicious guard dogs outside, and so they decide to wait out the night, passing the time by stealing anything that isn't nailed down. Mysteriously, as soon as the couple died, all the clocks in the house suddenly stopped. Soon enough, they're winding backwards, and weird things begin happening to the thieves, who are suddenly in a world of danger. The old couple, however, haven't bargained on their own victims being resurrected too...

The House of Clocks is a decent little horror film. It's not one of Fulci's greats, but certainly not his worst, either. It's plot is both simple, and rather complex, culminating in a highly entertaining ending. The film is never boring (although a couple of scenes do go on a bit longer than they should've), and runs rather briskly at only 85 minutes.

None of the lead characters in this movie are likable, which is irritating at first, but works well come the end. The conclusion is really good! Each character gets their suitable punishment, while everyone good lives happily. It's because of this that I don't mind the lack of likable main characters. It kinda bugs you as you're watching for the first time, and you find yourself struggling to care for the violent, cat-murdering thieves in danger, but come the end, you'll probably have a grin on your face as you see their amusing deserved comeuppance.

What's best about the ending (which is at first ridiculously happy for the three thieves) is that it all makes sense! Fulci really seems to know his time-travel mechanics, which is good, as the slightest mistake could have left the film stupid and nonsensical. I only wish that the movie would've explained how all the time travel stuff is happening, but that's not a movie-breaking issue.

The direction here is ok. There's nothing particularly stylish, but it's all serviceable.

The acting in this movie is very mixed. I can't speak for the original actors, but the dub acting is sometimes laughably bad, with very odd and poor deliveries. Thankfully they're decent the rest of the time, and the old couple certainly make for some entertaining antagonists.

The gore effects are pretty lame. Some are better than others, and the mild disembowelment is ok (although has nothing on similar scenes in other Fulci movies), but most are just tomato goo squibs, and not very convincing, sometimes looking like the actors' clothes have just been dirtied up.

Another irksome thing about the movie is the lack of any distinctive clocks. There are a few neat ones here and there, but by and large, they're all pretty regular looking clocks. There are no really stylish, big, and awesomely ornate ones either, and while that may seem like a minor problem, it's actually an important aesthetic issue for a movie so much about time travel and magical clocks.

The score in House of Clocks is quite decent. Some tunes aren't as good, and others are pretty cliched, but I really love the main theme, which is a soft and ooky piece, setting the tone perfectly, in both the beginning, and end too, where it complements the events of the conclusion.

To finish, this is a really good film, and despite its flaws, I recommend it! And remember, don't ever screw with cats, because they will get their bloody revenge. On that note, my cat is right now meowing for food, so I'd better deal with that, or else something unspeakable may befall me!...