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dog days

Friday, November 30, 2012

The Power

The Power
1984
Stephen Carpenter, Jeffrey Obrow

Like so many obscure films of the VHS era, the best thing about 'The Power' is the box art. It’s colorful and exciting which is the exact opposite of the movie that is contained within the packaging.  There are a few effective scenes in the film but they happen haphazardly within large dull stretches of time. Centering a horror film around an adorable two inch tall statue creates a host of problems too. Its part demonic possession movie, part teen slasher with just a taste of 'Evil Dead' (1981) thrown in and all baked into a dull grey lump.

Things starts off strong with a college professor giving a lecture and handing out psychic powered nosebleeds to sarcastic frat boys. After class he is confronted by a man in a suit, asking him to surrender a statue. The statue is of an Aztec demon called, Destacatl. The professor refuses to give it up and for some reason the demon decides to use it's psychic power to trash the classroom and impale the professor on a flagpole.  From this point on, we follow a tabloid reporter, his would-be girlfriend and three clueless teenagers as they come into contact with statue and one of them falls under it’s power.

The most frustrating aspect of 'The Power' is that it can’t decide what it wants to be, which forces it to meander about with too many plot lines and too many characters. It takes turns being a demonic mystery, a teen supernatural caper, and a horror comedy, but is unable to commit to any of these things so it ends up feeling like the story is going nowhere. Once it finally figures things out in the last fifteen minutes, it suddenly becomes an engaging monster film, but to get to that point is a tedious slog.

There are a few moments worth checking out. The opening is quite good, unexpectedly violent and succeeds in making you curious what’s going on. I found the high school kid’s first encounter with the statue as it starts attracting things on his desk and within moments it begins smashing everything in his room, to be well realized and exciting. The final chase through the house is actually pretty tense. It almost ends on a high note but then drags things on with a pointless and unnecessarily long coda, which ends exactly like a thousand other horror movies but takes twice as long to get there.

As a side thought, what is the point of the power you get from the statue? They never really demonstrate anything attractive about it. The demon also seems pretty quick to kill the people using the power. Sure you can inconvenience the occasional jerk with a nose bleed but the price is awfully high.

Should you watch 'The Power'? I suppose if you’ve seen just about every other 1980’s low rent VHS release, you could do worse. It’s watchable, the performances are never dire enough to take you out of the movie, and the special effects are cheap but effective enough. Unlike the statue in the movie, there is nothing very alluring about “The Power.”

1 comment:

  1. Whenever I read your blog these days, I always imagine you doing a voice-over of the content with the music from "Beyond the Black Rainbow" as the BGM.

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