Once upon a time (the early 80’s to be precise) when my family rented our first video recorder from Granada Home Video, you could rent tapes of trailers from the same shop. One tape had all of the trailers for Warner Bros video releases on it and included such gems as The Exorcist, The Shining and Private Benjamin.
The trailer for the 1981 comedy Arthur was also on there. It featured the amazing Burt Bacharach song ‘Money’. It was only recently that I saw the trailer again and wondered if this great song was on the film’s soundtrack.
I investigated further and found that indeed it was. I hurriedly downloaded the soundtrack and found that on first listen every track is just as great as Money.
This is prime Bacharach songwriting genius with each of his tracks displaying his skill at writing easy listening brilliance but giving it a rougher edge that proved perfect for the film as Arthur is an early 80’s Noo Yawk movie and the music perfectly embodies this.
We also get the gorgeous Christopher Cross track that he co-wrote with Burt, Arthur’s Theme (Best That You Can Do) that must be one of the best title tracks ever written for a film (the original instrumental version written by Bacharach as the theme for the film is also on the album). Theres even a rougher, rock version of Money entitled Poor Rich Boy that works perfectly well.
Let the music do the taking and relive this fantastic film, the amazing characterisation and New York looking absolutely amazing in 1981. And then watch the movie. In my opinion, it’s one of the best comedies ever made with a cast that bounces off each other wonderfully (Dudley Moore, Liza Minelli and Sir John Gielgud were all perfect choices) and acts as a brilliant time capsule of how amazing the 80’s were in America.
A movie that goes one way but changes direction massively.
In fact before the plot twist that occurs I thought this was a film about the most unlikable and privileged kids I’d ever seen on screen. In fact they’re so privileged that when they got to college they would be the biggest social justice warriors, I thought as I drifted away from the dull film.
In fact the only tension or frisson in the first half hour was more centred around the couple next to me who kept talking throughout the film. They stopped after I suddenly shrieked ‘For fucks sake! Shut the fuck up!’
But then the film has a huge volte face regarding its plot and it touches upon something that is still taboo in real life and on film- killers who are children. In fact, as soon as the film started to touch upon this film I instantly thought of the case of James Bulger. I was genuinely shocked to see the use of a can of paint in the film. Anyone who knows about the proceedings of Bulger’s death will know that paint figures predominantly. Was this coincidental or intentional?
The film could have now developed into something much darker, brutal and savage. It doesn’t exploit this brilliant plot twist and is a bit too obsessed with gloss rather than grit. The last 15 minutes are extremely contrived and more Hollywood than horrorshow. This is a shame. The very end of the film is funny but this should have been a vivid display of gallows humour rather than a jokey conclusion to a good but not great movie.
A wasted opportunity. But not a failure- in this era of reboots and reboots (the curse of modern film), any trace of originality and innovation should be cherished.
If you want to see a much better ‘killer kids’ film watch Bloody Birthday. The best Christmas horror films are still Black Christmas, Silent Night, Deadly Night and Christmas Evil. If you want to watch a movie about vapid, overprivileged kids, you’re asking the wrong person.
2 out of 5.
I remember this film being on the shelves of all of the local video stores I used to pore over the contents of in the 80s. Amazing cover artwork and a great premise (lifts have always freaked me out) and yet I never got round to renting this movie. Years later I watched it whilst living in Sydney, Australia.
A lift is trying to kill people. Its up to a lift repairman and his journalist friend to investigate and put an end to this dastardly contraption.
This is a Dutch film and contains more than meets the eye. Its very tongue in cheek and humourous in places. In fact its a delicate line for filmmakers to tread when making a horror film both funny and scary- and it succeeds brilliantly.
Theres also very perceptive observations of Dutch society at this time and the divide between the haves and have nots. Also, theres a subplot in which the wife of the leading male character has been spending so much time with his female journalist friend that she leaves him. This is no mere farfetched and kitsch possession B-movie.
For horror fans this film delivers the goods. The kills are innovative, nasty and in some cases, funny.
Worth checking out. And coming out on Blu ray via Blue Underground this month.
3 out of 5.