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Horror Movie A Day: AUDREY ROSE (1977)
We’re not talking about possession. We’re talking about reincarnation.

Ahoy, squirts! Quint here with today’s installment of A Movie A Day. [The regular A Movie A Day list has been frozen in order for me to do an all-horror line-up for October. I’ve pulled many horror titles from my regular “to see” stack and have ordered many more horror and thriller titles to make sure we have some good stuff. Like the regular AMAD column all the movies I’m covering are films I have never seen, but unlike the regular AMAD column I will not connect each film to the one before it. Instead I will pull a title at random every day and watch whatever the movie Gods determine for me.] Today we take a gander at Robert Wise’s horror/drama AUDREY ROSE starring Marsha Mason (NICK OF TIME, THE GOOD-BYE GIRL), John Beck (ROLLERBALL, THE OTHER SIDE OF MIDNIGHT), Susan Swift as the titular Audrey Rose and Anthony Hopkins.

The movie opens with a horrendous car wreck, a head on collision on a rainy day, which causes a car to flip and catch fire. That car has a small girl and a woman in it. We cut to New York City sometime in the future as a family (Mason, Beck and Swift) enjoys a day out. Those attentive people will notice a bearded Hopkins shadowing them. He’s kinda creepy, actually. I love this era Hopkins… if you’ve seen MAGIC, you know why. Anyway, Hopkins becomes more and more evident over the first 10 minutes. He’s outside of Audrey Rose’s school, following the parents as they shop, etc. We also learn that little Audrey has some powerful night terrors, trances that are becoming more and more powerful. She thrashes and screams, calling out for her father. When she wakes up she has no memory of her nightmares.

Finally, Hopkins introduces himself, but not after he’s frightened the mother and father of this little girl. His name is Elliott Hoover, a British man who lost his wife and daughter in a car accident. After two separate psychics tell him his wife is at rest, but his daughter is alive on this Earth he goes on a search for answers. That led him to India where the idea of reincarnation grabbed him immediately. Going off of details given to him by those psychics he spends the next few years narrowing down the possible vessel for his daughter’s spirit, ultimately deciding it’s Audrey Rose. He tells all this to the parents, who, understandably, think he’s bugfuck insane. However, the spells get worse and on the advice of their lawyer, they invite Hoover to their house in order to find out what he wants from them, with the lawyer in the other room ready to be witness to blackmail or threats or whatever the hell this guy wants.

Nothing like that comes out, Hopkins just genuinely wants to help his daughter’s soul find rest, but only with complete cooperation and consent of the parents. During this discussion, Audrey sleepwalks up behind the lawyer standing in the hallway, out of sight… and she looked freaky as hell. Not quite Linda Blair scary, but close. No make-up, just a weird, slack face and her eyes rolled up, showing their whites. She freaks out and the parents run up to try to calm her. She runs back into her room and starts pounding the windows, screaming for her father. Her palms begin showing burns as she pounds the windows. She is uncontrollable until Hopkins enters and starts calling her Audrey Rose. Nobody has gotten through before, but she hears that. She runs to him and instantly falls asleep in his arms. So that’s the question of the movie. Does reincarnation exist and if it does, does the soul of Audrey Rose live within this girl? Or is there something more sinister going on?

You can tell an obvious EXORCIST influence, but not in a horror sense. It’s in the family dynamic, particularly in the mother-daughter relationship between Mason and Swift. The father, Beck, is a bit of a prick, actually. He’s a nice enough guy, but he starts to feel like Hopkins is trying to take him out of the picture. Whether he is or not, I can’t really tell you. I think the film does a good job painting Hopkins as a very rational and in the right person… Which might be to its detriment. It might have been a more successful thriller if we didn’t know if we could believe Hopkins or not, if we could question his motives. But as it stands, Beck gets jealous, feels helpless and starts turning into a dick. All this culminates in Audrey having another fit and Hopkins trying to run in to help. Beck wrestles with him and they fight. Hopkins breaks free, locks the parents out of the house and grabs Audrey, taking her to his apartment. Then the flick turns into a courtroom drama as Hopkins is charged with kidnapping. He actually brings his belief in reincarnation into the court, making it the centerpiece to his defense.

The whole ordeal ends in a hypnotism scene that is incredibly effective. I’d say the whole movie is a slow burn which doesn’t really capitalize on the suspense opportunities, but I found it fascinating nonetheless. Hopkins is great, as you’d expect and the kid, Swift, is effective even if her performance is a little uneven. She can give a horrible line delivery in one scene and be really great the next. Wise’s direction is good, too. His choice of focus is, at times, beautiful. For instance, there’s a shot of Swift at a window. It’s nighttime and it’s raining, but the focus is on the water droplets falling down the window, with her out of focus and thrashing out of focus behind it. The cinematography is very… standard. Like I said, they don’t play up the suspense, so the atmosphere isn’t all that dark or interesting. It’s actually a little on the dull side, maybe by choice… but whatever the reason, the visual identity of the movie definitely isn’t one of its strengths. It’s all in the script, character work and performances. Final Thoughts: Sure, I’d prefer a little more menace, a little more suspense and a little more mystery, but that’s not what the aim of the movie was. And I love the ending, which really plays into Hopkins’ new religious views and seeing how that has influenced not only Mason, but also how it’s starting to influence the real non-belief of the father character. It’s the happiest sad ending ever.

Here are the titles in the drawing pool for the rest of October: Wednesday, October 1st – Friday, October 31st: H-MAD! Horror Movie A Day! Check out the list here! Added another ‘80s horror flick to the list… but we’re in our last 10 days of HMAD. How the time flies… A good majority of those films linked above will be reshuffled into the regular AMAD stacks come November 1st. Now’s the the time to pull the next HMAD! Next up is:

WHOEVER SLEW AUNTIE ROO? Interesting. I love me some Shelley Winters… and Oliver (Mark Lester) is in the movie! Creepy Shelley Winters and Oliver! is a winning combination, I think. Let’s see if the movie lives up to that promise! -Quint

Previous Movies: June 2nd: Harper
June 3rd: The Drowning Pool
June 4th: Papillon
June 5th: Gun Crazy
June 6th: Never So Few
June 7th: A Hole In The Head
June 8th: Some Came Running
June 9th: Rio Bravo
June 10th: Point Blank
June 11th: Pocket Money
June 12th: Cool Hand Luke
June 13th: The Asphalt Jungle
June 14th: Clash By Night
June 15th: Scarlet Street
June 16th: Killer Bait (aka Too Late For Tears)
June 17th: Robinson Crusoe On Mars
June 18th: City For Conquest
June 19th: San Quentin
June 20th: 42nd Street
June 21st: Dames
June 22nd: Gold Diggers of 1935
June 23rd: Murder, My Sweet
June 24th: Born To Kill
June 25th: The Sound of Music
June 26th: Torn Curtain
June 27th: The Left Handed Gun
June 28th: Caligula
June 29th: The Elephant Man
June 30th: The Good Father
July 1st: Shock Treatment
July 2nd: Flashback
July 3rd: Klute
July 4th: On Golden Pond
July 5th: The Cowboys
July 6th: The Alamo
July 7th: Sands of Iwo Jima
July 8th: Wake of the Red Witch
July 9th: D.O.A.
July 10th: Shadow of A Doubt
July 11th: The Matchmaker
July 12th: The Black Hole
July 13th: Vengeance Is Mine
July 14th: Strange Invaders
July 15th: Sleuth
July 16th: Frenzy
July 17th: Kingdom of Heaven: The Director’s Cut
July 18th: Cadillac Man
July 19th: The Sure Thing
July 20th: Moving Violations
July 21st: Meatballs
July 22nd: Cast a Giant Shadow
July 23rd: Out of the Past
July 24th: The Big Steal
July 25th: Where Danger Lives
July 26th: Crossfire
July 27th: Ricco, The Mean Machine
July 28th: In Harm’s Way
July 29th: Firecreek
July 30th: The Cheyenne Social Club
July 31st: The Man Who Knew Too Much
August 1st: The Spirit of St. Louis
August 2nd: Von Ryan’s Express
August 3rd: Can-Can
August 4th: Desperate Characters
August 5th: The Possession of Joel Delaney
August 6th: Quackser Fortune Has A Cousin In The Bronx
August 7th: Start the Revolution Without Me
August 8th: Hell Is A City
August 9th: The Pied Piper
August 10th: Partners
August 11th: Barry Lyndon
August 12th: The Skull
August 13th: The Hellfire Club
August 14th: Blood of the Vampire
August 15th: Terror of the Tongs
August 16th: Pirates of Blood River
August 17th: The Devil-Ship Pirates
August 18th: Jess Franco’s Count Dracula
August 19th: Dracula A.D. 1972
August 20th: The Stranglers of Bombay
August 21st: Man, Woman & Child
August 22nd: The Little Girl Who Lives Down The Lane
August 23rd: The Young Philadelphians
August 24th: The Rack
August 25th: Until They Sail
August 26th: Somebody Up There Likes Me
August 27th: The Set-Up
August 28th: The Devil & Daniel Webster
August 29th: Cat People
August 30th: The Curse of the Cat People
August 31st: The 7th Victim
September 1st: The Ghost Ship
September 2nd: Isle of the Dead
September 3rd: Bedlam
September 4th: Black Sabbath
September 5th: Black Sunday
September 6th: Twitch of the Death Nerve
September 7th: Tragic Ceremony
September 8th: Lisa & The Devil
September 9th: Baron Blood
September 10th: A Shot In The Dark
September 11th: The Pink Panther
September 12th: The Return of the Pink Panther
September 13th: The Pink Panther Strikes Again
September 14th: Revenge of the Pink Panther
September 15th: Trail of the Pink Panther
September 16th: The Real Glory
September 17th: The Winning of Barbara Worth
September 18th: The Cowboy and the Lady
September 19th: Dakota
September 20th: Red River
September 21st: Terminal Station
September 22nd: The Search
September 23rd: Act of Violence
September 24th: Houdini
September 25th: Money From Home
September 26th: Papa’s Delicate Condition
September 27th: Dillinger
September 28th: Battle of the Bulge
September 29th: Daisy Kenyon
September 30th: Laura
October 1st: The Dunwich Horror
October 2nd: Experiment In Terror
October 3rd: The Devil’s Rain
October 4th: Race With The Devil
October 5th: Salo, Or The 120 Days of Sodom
October 6th: Bad Dreams
October 7th: The House Where Evil Dwells
October 8th: Memories of Murder
October 9th: The Hunger
October 10th: I Saw What You Did
October 11th: I Spit On Your Grave
October 12th: Naked You Die
October 13th: The Wraith
October 14th: Silent Night, Bloody Night
October 15th: I Bury The Living
October 16th: The Beast Must Die
October 17th: Hellgate
October 18th: He Knows You’re Alone
October 19th: The Thing From Another World
October 20th: The Fall of the House of Usher

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