Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Hex (1973)

I’ve been trying to run down a copy of Hex for about 20 years, Ever since I saw this still in a paperback copy of the Overlook Encyclopedia of Horror film. There was something about the picture of a young woman in front of a weird totem pole that haunted me. In the process of tracking down another film (Checkered Flag or Crash) I found the company was selling copies of Hex. Figuring to end the quest I threw the film on to the order.

I’m not sure I really should have bothered….but hold that thought.

The plot of the film has a bunch of ex-soldier driving across America after the First World War on motorcycles. They are heading toward Hollywood and the prospect of getting into movies.

In Nebraska, after running slightly afoul of the locals, the group ends up on the farm of two young women who are living alone since their parents died. The girls are a little strange, but also welcoming. However the mix of cultures causes tensions and when one of the group tries to rape the younger girl, supernatural forces are used to get revenge, thus setting in motion further complications.

Strange, completely atypical (hence the inclusion here) mix, of drama, western, romance and horror that is a more interesting footnote than solid entertainment. Say what you will, but the film simply can’t balance so many genres with any skill with the result that the film drops the balls. The film works best as a really Gothic romance with the reactions of the young women to the interlopers being the most solid of the plot lines (The horror elements are more window dressing, with the happy ending with all the darkness seeming out of place. Likewise the battle between the old west and the coming of civilization which seems to be there but not really dealt with.)

I like the film on some level, but it’s more admiration rather than real affection. I mean it’s good enough to warrant a look see for those who want something different and who stumble upon it, but as something to search for, say for 20 or 25 years, I’d look elsewhere.

(I should mention that the cast of the film is made up of a large number of later big stars- Scott Glenn, Keith Carradine,Gary Bussey, Dan Haggerty)

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