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Seizure (1974)


            Spoiler Alert: it was all a dream.  Yes friends, nothing says ‘f you’ to the audience more than a good ol’ recant of everything they’ve just seen.  By framing “Seizure” as a mere dream, the filmmaker (in this case, Oliver Stone) is apologizing for everything that has just happened by saying that there is no way this could have been real.  But, by doing that, isn’t the impact entirely erased?  Isn’t the pressure of this strange movie completely relieved?  By saying that an entire horror film has just occurred inside a man’s head, Stone is saying that everything is okay after all, the mark of a poor horror film.  The ending to “Seizure” is a crying shame, because the movie as a whole wasn’t that bad. 

            Writer Edmund Blackstone wakes up in a cold sweat, and tells his wife he had that dream again (red flags should be going up already).  She tells him not to worry because the guests will be arriving any minute.  Edmund’s friends promptly trickle in for a weekend getaway at Edmund’s lake side home.  His friends are over-the-top, Stone-esque characters who talk fast and mean.  Right from the start, they seem destined for the slaughter.  And slaughtered they are when Spider (Hervé “Nick Nack” Villenchaize), Jackal the Giant (Henry Baker), and the sexy and sultry, Queen of Evil (Martine Beswick) show up.  The group of friends is pitted against each other by the three demons in a kind of ‘Kirk versus Spock’ competition designed to test their strength and loyalty to each other.  One by one, the peripheral characters kill each other until only Edmund and his son are left.  The Queen of Evil gives Edmund a choice; give up your son and have me forever, or sacrifice yourself to save your boy.  Being that he is a complete coward, Edmund gives up his son.  Little does Edmund realize that his son has escaped from his hiding place and run for safety.  The Queen assumes Edmund is lying about his commitment to her, and she sends Spider out to kill him.  The movie ends with a double fake when Edmund awakens from his dream to find everything seemingly back to normal.  The ‘thank god’ moment is short lived when Edmund realizes that the Queen of Evil, not his wife, is sleeping next to him.  He instantly drops dead of a heart attack just as his wife goes to tell him that the guests will be arriving any minute.  Oh, burn.

            “Seizure” is not a bad movie by any stretch of the imagination.  The film was obviously shot on an ultra low budget, but it is clear from the start that there is somebody in the driver’s seat.  “Seizure” can best be described as a young director’s attempt to find his wings.  Oliver Stone has always been iffy in my book.  He is a textbook case of somebody who doesn’t understand subtlety, which isn’t always a bad thing, except when it is.  No other writer could have delivered Al Pacino’s “Scarface”, or painted Jim Morrison’s self-induced destruction in “The Doors” the way Stone did.  But when over-the-top isn’t called for, Stone flails about helplessly.  Though it won Best Picture, “Platoon” manages to attach every bad Vietnam scenario onto one platoon of men, from the Meli Massacre, to overindulgence in drugs.  In the same vein, “Any Given Sunday” is a classic case of a director who doesn’t know how to edit, either himself, or his movie.  The point is that the seeds of many a Stone archetype can be found in “Seizure,” for good or ill.  And while “Seizure” probably won’t win any awards, it certainly is a fun schlock flick.  But it was all a dream in the end and that tends to be an unforgivable sin, even when a young director does it.                    

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