SEIZURE (1974)

SEIZURE! (1974)

Director: Oliver Stone

Starring: Jonathan Frid, Martine Beswick, Mary Woronov, Hervé Villechaize, Joseph Sirola, Christina Pickles, Troy Donahue, Richard Cox, Henry Baker, Anne Meacham


“Don’t ask us who we are, or where we come from. We are without beginning or end, and our purpose, our only purpose, is death.” – The Queen

The poster for this was so promising: a hooded man with an axe, a scantily dressed woman, and a bearded dwarf with a dagger, along with the tag line, “You cannot run from them… You cannot hide from them… Their only purpose is the breath-stopping panic of Seizure!” I was expecting something violent and possibly strange, but then I discovered this is a PG rate film, but had to keep hope alive, as this was made in 1974, and standards were a bit different back then: tougher, less concerned about who was offended. But nope, this is a definite PG movie, almost safe for prime time movie of the week.

Jonathan Frid (Barnabas Collins, Dark Shadows) is Edmund Blackstone, horror writer who has reoccurring nightmares that are weighing heavy on him, and effecting his family life, compounded by the difficulty of finding an ending to the novel he’s working on. He and his wife, Nicole (Christina Pickles) are also having a few absolutely unlikable friends over for the weekend.

As the night comes on three uninvited guests begin making their presence known, The Spider (Herve Villechaize), The Queen (Martine Beswick), and Jackal (Henry Baker). These three (as seen on the ever so promising poster) start picking off the friends, and bringing (much deserved) hell into their lives. Villechaize steals the movie as The Spider. When he’s on screen everyone else tends to disappear, or get in the way. The Spider is cold and remorseless, carrying out orders from The Queen without hesitation,and almost with glee. It’s as though his whole reason of existence is to cause suffering for others. When he leaps through the window into the Blackstone home he is clearly in charge of the moment.  Even The Queen, who is running the show is nowhere near as interesting as The Spider, and Jackal is nothing more than a strong man who lumbers through the scenes killing and crushing when told to.

The guests are forced to participate in various contests (foot race, knife fight, etc) with each other, loser getting killed, and this is where the PG rating really hurts the movie. All kills are off camera, and quickly cut to another scene. Even if they just showed it going down in shadows, or had the sounds of struggle it would have ratcheted things up with a needed intensity to make the viewer uncomfortable. You sometimes see the aftermath, but baby, I wanted to see more. Even the knife fight between Jonathan Frid and Mary Woronov could have been golden, but alas, it was not meant to be. The best is when one guest has their head crushed. Though you don’t see it happening, you do see the gruel in the aftermath. But again, it could have been so much better.

Seizure is not a terrible movie, but the poster is far more interesting than the actual film, and had this been decidedly aimed at an exploitation audience it could have been pretty damn awesome. There’s some good ideas that could have been expanded on, such as Eunice (Anne Meacham) communicating with her dead husband through The Spider, and willing the three killers to the house, and maybe have gone down that storyline instead of the one Stone ultimately chose, as it was more sinister and creepier seeming.  But as it is, it’s nothing that I would say you must see, and no wonder that Oliver Stone reportedly wants to pretend like it was never made. (MA)


NW: Nate Wilson    DC: Devon Cahill   HR: Heath Row   MA: Matt Average