Judge Patrick Bromley points out how terrible this movie is.
Demons long locked in the depths of the mind come to destroy the weak and believing!
The only thing missing from the new DVD of the 1971 movie Point of Terror is three little silhouettes in the corner of the frame making fun of it. It's a film that achieves that special level of badness.
Don't be fooled by the DVD cover art, which suggests '70s exploitation horror of the shlockiest kind. Point of Terror isn't really a horror movie. It isn't really even a movie. It's some kind of bizarre vanity project for star Peter Carpenter (of Vixen! and Blood Mania), who also serves as the film's writer and producer. Most of the movie is a testament to Carpenter's awesomeness: he dances around on stage in a skin-tight red jumpsuit, he sings multiple (terrible, hilarious) songs, he takes his shirt off, he goes to be with numerous well-endowed women, among them Dyanne Thorne (Ilsa: She-Wolf of the SS). He's kind of like Tom Jones, minus the talent and sex appeal. Consider where that leaves him.
There is a plot. I think. I can't exactly describe it. Carpenter plays Tony, a nightclub singer who meets a woman named Andrea (Thorne) on a beach. She comes to see him sing, likes what she hears/sees (who wouldn't?) and informs him that a) she runs a record label which is b) owned by her husband (Joel Marston, Heaven Can Wait) who is confined to a wheelchair. From there, Point of Terror turns into a film noir of sorts and the jealous husband winds up dead. With Andrea now a free woman, Tony looks to advance his career by skipping town with her, only she's not interested. Luckily, there are plenty of other women interested who fall victim to his charms—including Andrea's friend Fran (Leslie Simms, The Long Goodbye) and Andrea's own step-daughter Helayne (Lory Hansen). Where the film goes from there, I won't say and couldn't possibly have predicted. Take that for what it's worth.
I'm not a snob. I enjoy a lot of so-called "bad" movies unironically, provided they're made with some level of skill and, more importantly, sincerity. But Point of Terror is a movie so bad and so bizarre that it can only be enjoyed with ironic distance—by standing back and laughing at your own superiority to the movie. I don't particularly like to enjoy movies that way, but someone who does is likely to have a fantastic time with Point of Terror. It is the work of a madman. Carpenter sings the same two songs over and over and over again. There is a soft-core love scene (there are several) in which two naked people make out for a long time in near darkness. Then, because the scene wasn't weird or bad enough already, the image breaks up into a split-screen effect. Why? Because crazy people made Point of Terror. Much of the film—the acting, the writing, the direction, the editing—feels exactly like a 1970s porn film with all the sex cut out (not that I've ever seen one of those). There is sex in the movie, and female flesh to spare (not to mention plenty of Peter Carpenter on display, LADIES) for those who might be drawn to such things. Before you check out Point of Terror, ask yourself this question: At what price nudity?
The new DVD of Point of Terror from Scorpion is a mixed bag. On one, it's the first time there's been an anamorphic transfer of the film. And though the transfer isn't terrible—there's not much print damage and some of the more garish colors hold up nicely—there are a number of problems with it, too. The overall softness I can deal with, as it's likely an issue with the source, but blacks are often unstable and bordering on grey and I noticed a whole lot of pixelization throughout. Just look around the edges of the opening title and you'll see; while at its worst with brighter colors, it's always present. The transfer has the tendency to look like a VHS ripped that's been uploaded to YouTube and then burned to a DVD. Still, it's probably the best the movie has looked yet and ought to please fans, whoever they are. The only audio option included is a mono track which, again, isn't terrible—it's free of any hiss or distortion—but is uneven. I had to crank up the sound to hear some of the dialogue (because I didn't want to miss a golden word, and there are no subtitles) only to scramble for the volume control every time there was a sting or a scream.
Besides the movie's original trailer, it's only a pair of interviews that make up the supplemental section of Point of Terror. The first, "Remembering Peter Carpenter," is pretty self-explanatory. Carpenter's co-star and "acting teacher" Leslie Simms discusses the actor in a very affectionate but presumably honest way, and her memories make him seem far more interesting than anything on display in Point of Terror. The second interview, this one a phone interview with star Dyanne Thorne (Really? No one could get a sit-down with Dyanne Thorne for the DVD? And they still chose include a phone interview?), also focuses on Carpenter for a while before segueing into Thorne's own experiences with the movie.
I can only recommend Point of Terror as a so-bad-it's-entertaining title, because it is very, very bad. It's also very entertaining, if you're into this sort of thing. And by "this sort of thing" I mean garbage.
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Scales of Justice
Studio: Scorpion Releasing
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