Sunday, 1 April 2012
Black Noon (1971) Bernard Kowalski
Black Noon seems like many of its made for TV horror brethren to have laid lasting impression upon the tender psyches of those who saw it at a young age. This of course does not mean much to those of more contemporary age, especially those such as I weaned on the up front violence and silliness that became prevalent in the genre since the 80's. Which is not to say that Black Noon doesn't work, just that it isn't some lost classic that can realistically live up to the hushed reminiscence of the older generation. The great problem with Black Noon is not age, but the fact that if you know anything about its plot and the genre preoccupations of its era it is from start to finish predictable as the seasons, and even if you enter it blind the very first scene gives a pretty clear indication of what the situation is going to be. So rather than say anything about the plot I'll just get straight to the actors driving the thing. Roy Thinnes is a fair hero, sympathetic in his way but somehow a bit too low key and gullible, a bit too much of an obvious patsy to really get behind. Ray Milland on the other hand holds the attention very nicely as a warm, helpful host, every bit a good old fashioned gentleman. Henry Silva is a bit underused but still good fun as a one dimensional hissable villain, a vicious outlaw cliche who entertains through an entirely unselfconscious, unforced turn. Lynn Loring is at times too hammy as the heroes wife, Gloria Graham has a small but pleasant role as a nice old lady, but best of the women is the lovely Yvette Mimieux as a teen mute adept at crafts. Her clammy allure is a class act and lights up every moment in which she appears, which fortunately are many. Everyone gels pretty nicely and the pacing is fair, offering a steadily mounting atmosphere and sense of ill omen, though things are hardly surprising there's some nice imagery and a sense of commitment to the tale which belies its ultimate predictability. The short runtime (just over 70 minutes) really works in the films favor, as one can watch the pieces all slot into place with gratifying speed before the finale, which when it comes is creditably unnerving. No great shocks, but a little different from the standard model and appropriately downbeat and mean. The direction is pretty perfunctory (from Bernard Kowalski, who gave us killer sleeping bag classic Attack of the Giant Leeches) but keeps everything together and pretty watchable. Really this one isn't strong or strange enough to be a real contender, but as far as time filler chillers go its perfectly acceptable. Worth a watch if you have a horn for this sort of thing, but otherwise not one to make to much effort to watch I'd say.