Tuesday, 27 March 2012

The Shaman (1987) Michael Yakub

Merriam-Webster defines a shaman as " a priest or priestess who uses magic for the purpose of curing the sick, divining the hidden and controlling events". The titular villain of one shotter Michael Yakub's The Shaman seems to operate on a lesser known fourth definition, that of being a complete fucking bell-end. He chooses a successor for no discernible reason  other than the guy being a frigid workaholic, kills several innocent people, hypnotises several to do his bidding and terrorises a couple of children. Perhaps the film was attempting a critique of European exploitation of the Americas, since the evil shaman is a northern European guy who acquired his powers from a legitimate shaman, elects an Italian American to use as his successor and hypnotises an African American couple, but I'm pretty sure no such thought was actually involved. Anyways, said shaman emerges from snowy woods to wreak his evil upon a community which seems to consist solely of three couples, and eventually they figure something wrong is going on and get their act together to stop him. The basic plotting of the film is fairly interesting, but the execution sorely lacking. White haired Eivind Harum comes across ok as the villain, a quietly vicious type with a certain cold authority, but everyone else is lacking. Michael Conforti wields neither appropriate pathos now power as his potential successor, and as his good natured friend Paul, James Farkas tries in vain to conjure up any kind of energy or chemistry but appears as nothing more than an awkward void. Nothing really to be said for the rest of the cast, other than that none are very good despite one or two at least seeming to try to act. The supposedly exciting moments are staged with little ability and include no bloodshed to speak of, so even the bits that should be mindlessly entertaining fall flat, and while children do appear to be in danger the film never pushes that envelope to worthy territory. Fortunately the pacing isn't too bad and people frequently say comically stupid things (and there's a nice joke about penguins), so as far as awful films go this is relatively watchable, and it does make something of an effort even if it usually fails. An often fretful synth score helps, laying faux drama upon the overwhelming mundanity in a fashion that if not exactly convincing is at times fun as a sort of idiots salvage job. I really didn't have too much of a bad time with this one, though it should be mentioned that it did send me to sleep the first couple of times I tried to watch it. There are a couple of moments of nice weirdness and at times an interesting sense of strangeness usurping the regular order of things, but really these pluses amount to little more than a vapour of vibe, a slight interesting tinge that hasn't much effect on the overall crapulence of the affair. All in all then, not something that made me want to hurt myself or others, but strictly one for lovers of truly bad horror films. BW out!

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