Tuesday, 27 March 2012

Wendigo (1978) Paul Kener

Well, I finally watched it. I've long been fascinated by the legend of the Wendigo (cursed by a witch to be a perpetually hungry cannibal giant), and so I first became aware of the existence of this little doozy a few years ago. Not long after that I saw director Paul Kener's only other opus, the brain-sucking proto-slasher disasterpiece Savage Water and from then on knew that Wendigo and I were destined to meet. And for a couple of years I would check on Amazon to see if it was available and at what price, watching it fall on and off the market as people seemed to buy and just as easily resell it, never jacking up the price as if out of some tender mercy for whichever curious foolhardy soul might buy it next, until finally the price actually dropped (I have a slight suspicion bootlegging may be involved, but what the hey!) and it was time for me to swoop in and make the buy.

And by golly it was worth it! A brazenly wretched affair even by the decidedly relative standards of low to no budget regional horror of the late 70's, Wendigo nonetheless possess a certain compelling crooked allure. A slim cast and trim runtime helps tremendously, though the pacing is poor, the cinematography shoddy (especially in the dreadfully lit night scenes) and the action inept, there is at least some sense of drive to it and the characters do raise a reaction of sorts. There's Mike for example, helicopter pilot and claimed adrenaline junkie of sorts who communicates with all the attention grabbing verve of a travelling insurance salesman who hasn't been excited about anything since the time when he was 7 years old and found out that Santa Claus wasn't real. There's Connie, naive city girl and something of a hoochie who memorably uses apple sauce in a metaphorical and borderline opaque discussion about flirting. On one occasion she is nude, but we only see her back Boo!!! Smarmy photographer Eric is appropriately punchable and Connie's husband Frank is a slate so blank you can virtually see through him. The real winner of the film is guide Defago, his idiotic dialogue submerged in a near incomprehensibly thick faux French Canadian accent that virtually necessitates a good pair of headphones to understand. Actor Van Washburn Jr. deserves recognition for his work here, and I like to think that there's a parallel universe out there in which he went on to reprise the character in a series of unrelated sequels. Aside from the value of such asinine characters, the scenery is nice and despite the direction coming from a realm where the only flair is what signals rescue flights and the photography ranging from murky to outright shit, occasionally it comes through for isolated evocative moments. And then there are the few moments of action, which carry a certain weird charge through being mostly so brief and poorly handled one could almost mistake them for misfiring synapses in the brain itself, the very structure snarled up by the viewing. Actually I'm almost certain that the few second climatic appearance of the Wendigo itself was either the result of possibly cause of brain damage. That's what comes of dedication to watching terrible obscure horror movies, they terminally fuck with your programming. C'est la vie...

So basically you should all totally watch this film, because it's awesome. BW out!

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