Friday, September 21, 2007

Zeder (1983)

(Spoiler alert.) Amongst the numerous film magazines around, one of the better is undoubtedly Video Watchdog, and when some DVD carries a blurb from the magazine stating "One of the best horror films of the 1980s!" and that the movie in question "is actually scary," a person's hopes tend to go up. In the case of Pup Avati's 1983 supernatural thriller Zeder, it is indeed scary, if not unbelievably horrifying, that anyone — let alone someone writing for Video Watchdog — would describe this piece of digitalized celluloid shit as being anything other than 98 minutes of unremitting boredom. Mary Lambert's Pet Semetary came out six years later so Avati's cinematic fart can't be dismissed as simply a lousy Italio rip-off of an already lousy US film, but still, since Stephan King's book came out the same year as Avati's film, the question of the chicken and the egg does arise. In the end, seeing that all three suck, the question remains immaterial.
In Avati's working of the plot device, the flick starts out with a bang with death of some old lady, and continues for about 5 minutes as if in the middle of a story, almost as if film reels had been put on out of order. Basically, some dead dude buried in a basement comes back and kills, so some other living dudes unbury him, and that's that. Boom! It's many years later in Italy, where some ugly writer named Stefano (Gabriele Lavia, also to be seen in three Dario Argento films: Profondo rosso / Deep Red [1975], Inferno [1980] and Non ho sonno/Sleepless [2001]) is given an electric typewriter by his hot looking wife Alessandra (Anne Canovas). Changing the ribbon that night, he notices that the text of the previous owner can be read from the ribbon; fascinated by what it has to say, he transcribes the text. The text describes the research of some mysterious Dr. Zeder, who was convinced that there were specific areas on earth, so called K-zones, where all the rules of time and matter do not apply, and in these areas, the dead can be brought back to life. (Zeder, of course, was the dude buried in the basement at the film's beginning.)
Fascinated by what he has discovered, Stefano begins to do a little research to locate the previous owner of the typewriter, an ex-priest named Luigi Costa (Aldo Sassi), and slowly gets completely obsessed with finding out "the truth." A group of Zeder's followers who are researching Zeder's theories — financed by some big, fat, rich and powerful man and consisting of virtually everyone Stefano comes in contact with — are out to stop him from finding anything out, but though they are rather willing to kill those out to help Stefano, they never bother simply killing him.... that would simply make too much sense.
Ever so slowly he tracks the clues to a K-zone where the bad guys have buried the body of the now dead Luigi Costa, the shit hits the fan and the movie ends with an ending already expected ten minutes after the movie started. Around this plot, the characters talk, talk and talk, and when they have finished talking, they talk some more. Simply put, aside from featuring some of the worst film music ever composed (despite being scored by the highly talented Riz Ortolani), Zeder features zero tension, zero suspense, zero scares — but oodles of never-ending dialogue. Indeed, since Alessandra display no injuries when she turns up dead near the film's end, it easy to assume that she was talked to death. In any event, whoever watches this movie also has a good chance of dying of boredom long before Stefano finally gets what he deserves… a shame that the director didn't die with him.
A film to be avoided.


Unknown said...

Well I thought it was cool.
Each to their obviously cant cope with a slow burner

Abraham said...

Hey, Unknown! You're not the only person who found the flick cooler than I. And while I do on occasion like a well-made slow burner, this one just didn't cut the mustard for me. I couldn't get past the concept that the guy would pull out the typewriter ribbon to read the text (a Sisyphean task that even the most anal retentive of obsessives probably wouldn't do). Also, I'm not much for flicks in which, suddenly, good people or old friends or everyone you meet are all suddenly part of the conspiracy. It's a solution that is simply too easy. (But then, I'm a lizard man from outerspace working with Hollywood, Democrats and Jews to take away guns and make the world a heathen paradise without Christmas.) To give the flick one plus point: it has one hell of a downer ending, if I remember correctly (it's been more than a decade since I watched it on something called "video").