Friday, July 15, 2011

Film #72: Seizure! (1974)

If you dream you are being chased by a killer, it means you are anxious and trying to avoid troubling life issues.
If you dream of tornadoes, it means you are not in control of your environment.

But what if you dream of a disfigured African executioner, a bloodthirsty sadist midget, and a beautiful, but wickedly evil queen? Probably means you are nuttier than elephant shit.

OR, it means you just watched “Seizure!” this weeks horror morsel working its way through the Rich-Dimick Horror Project’s bowels.
That aforementioned motley crew of evil stars in this week’s picture, acclaimed director Oliver Stone’s first cinematic effort.

Horror author Edmund Blackstone, “this century’s Edgar Allan Poe,” decides to throw a weekend long party at his sprawling country estate. He invites a vast crew of friends, from greedy entrepreneur Charles Hughes and his gold-digging wife Mikki, to old man mystic Serge. He should be jacked for the shin-dig, man! But, Edmund's dreams have been a real bummer lately.

He has the same nightmare every night featuring characters from a book he’s writing. These characters are the Jackal, a disfigured African slave forced to become a savage executioner; Spider, a knife wielding dwarf prince who takes out his disfigurement on society; and the Queen of Evil, a sultry raven haired witch who shows no mercy to the peasants under her.

The same shenanigans happen every night in Edmund's dream: his friends come over to his house for the weekend, the three evil characters appear, and they slowly murder the whole brood of party animals. Then he wakes up screaming like woman.

Well, thank goodness it is only a dream, right? Yeah, not so much.

As his guest arrive in reality, Edmund starts to write out his dream – thinking the tale would make a great horror story. Only he forgets to tell his characters to stay in the page.
They appear in real life, and the murdering begins! Yay!

The three seemingly unstoppable demons issue an ultimatum to the house quests: escape is impossible, but if you play our games and fight for your life, one of you will survive. The guests are pitted against each other in deadly games of terror, while Edmund struggles to muster the courage to confront his dark creations before it is too late.

Will the party guests kill for the right to stay alive?
Just where did these tormentors come from?
What’s happening to all the honey bees?
Find out, in the 1974 dreamy drama, “Seizure!”

RDHP Ratings and Reviews

C-Rating: 2.99
Chris Dimick dreams:
“My uncle Tim was lounging on the couch that morning, sipping from a mug and watching the morning news. Tim loved coffee, and every day the first thing he’d do is put on a pot of extra strong brew.
As a kid, I stayed over at my grandmother’s house frequently, sometimes due to both of my parents working the next morning (easier just to sleep there the night before than get dragged out of bed at 4 am and dropped off).
Seeing it often, Tim’s morning ritual intrigued my 7-year-old self. “Man, if he drinks that every day, first thing in the morning, it must be delicious!” I thought.

As the oldest in my immediate family, I always looked up to Tim, then in his late teens/early 20s, and his younger brother Kip, as pseudo big brothers – both kings of cool. So if Tim drank coffee, hell, I wanted to drink coffee too!

My first request to take a sip of the black, likely magical beverage was turned down by Tim. “Nope, sorry, only for adults,” he said. But I wined and I cried and I begged. “Please Tim. Please, let me have some! Come on, I’m grown up!” I pleaded, dancing about.

“You won’t like it Christopher. I’m telling you, you won’t like it at all.”
Whatever. I’ll like it. I’m cool enough, I thought.
The screaming and crying started on Tim’s first cup. But by cup number three, I still hadn’t let up.
“Tim, I just want to see. Come on, I just want to see! I’ll like it, seriously!” I repeated over and over, drowning out the news and destroying any hope Tim had for an easy morning.

Whether he did it to shut me up, teach me a lesson, or just for pure amusement, I’ll never know. But Tim looked around to make sure my grandmother wasn’t near, turned to me, and said, “Okay, just one sip.”

Well I wasn’t about to just take one sip. I’m a grown up, after all, and grownups love coffee. Grabbing the hot mug of black, double brewed canned coffee, I took not just one sip, but chugged three large gulps into my mouth. Coffee streamed down my chin, but for an instant I felt pretty damn awesome. Look at that Tim, I’m drinking coffee.
Then I tasted it… actually tasted the beverage. With the help of my fresh taste buds, I realized coffee was actually burnt tar, horse hoofs, and rotten teeth stink infused into gritty liquid.

It was fouler than anything I ever imagined existing on the face of the earth. What the hell!
Disgusted, I realized I needed to get this bile of my mouth, and fast. Instinct took over, and despite the fact that my grandmother had just installed new carpet, I chose the easy way out and sprayed the rest of the coffee from my mouth like a city fountain.

At first, Tim was shocked and horrified. He was probably going to get it from his mom. But the comedy of the situation was too much to ignore, and through fits of laughter Tim reasserted an “I told you so! I told you so” as I gagged and coughed and screamed.

THAT drink is what he and other adults love so much? What is wrong with adults! That is sick! I thought. Regaining my composure, I grilled Tim for several minutes on why he would routinely drink such a horrific beverage. “No one likes it at first. It takes time. But once you get used to it, you love it!” he tried to explain. It didn’t make sense. Why torture yourself with something gross?

As I sit here drinking a venti Starbucks coffee, this week’s film reminds me of that first experience with the java joe. Seizure is like coffee. At first taste, you are sickened and horrified. How is this good? What were the makers thinking? Cool kid Oliver Stone likes this?! But over the last two days, for some reason this film has played over and over in my mind. With each mental sip of the characters, the plot, the ending, I’ve enjoyed the taste of Seizure more and more. It is so sleazy, so trashy, and so classic 1970s pyscho-babble.

I hated coffee as a 7-year-old. But I tried it again later in high school for the same reasons I did when I was 7 – to look cool. Despite the awful taste, I needed the buzz from the caffeine, as I sat in local hangout Denny’s until 3 a.m. But drinking it required putting in five sugar packets and two creamers in just to get it down. Yet repeated experiences with the drink made me graduate to purer and purer coffee. I soon learned to love the taste, and now support a three cup a day habit.

Seizure is an acquired taste. As the bizarre plot with dream characters, random knife fights, killer midgets, and Mary Woronov's creepy face washes over your mind, each wave peels off some of the hate and replaces it with warm appreciation and amusement.

Note that I rated this 2.99. I can’t bring myself to rate it a 3.0… the editing was too sloppy and the directing too freshman. But that is today. Give me another drink of this crazy slop, and tomorrow I might just give her a 4.

Thanks, Tim, for going out on a limb and letting me try coffee. Next time you offer me a cup, I promise not to spit it on you. In fact at this point, I’d probably drink it off the floor.”

N-Rating: 2.7
Nick Rich dreams:
"Dreams can be messed up.
Whether you're returning from Oz, shaking the fog off in Dallas or having the pear dream again in Toronto... they can be messed up:

As a matter of fact, I was awoken abruptly at 1:49am this morning by one. I had gone to sleep hours before, wondering what in the Helen of Troy I was going to write about Seizure! before drifting gently off to dream land.
As I shook off the haze of images and checked the time, the memory of being trapped in a dream that kept getting progressively worse began to solidify in my mind. In most dreams you have a single villain or issue to deal with (or you hop from dream to dream, each with its own story), but in this instance the evil men and monsters in my dream just kept adding up... and coming after me. I didn't have the refuge of jumping to another dream, just the knowledge that I should be and that since I wasn't there would be more and more fiends appearing in the one I was trapped in. One by one they kept coming until I couldn't take it any more... the last image I had in my mind before I woke up was this:

Where this image came from I have no idea.
I haven't watched Thriller since MJ passed a few years ago... I imagine this image is probably living quietly in the forgotten parts of my psyche (where it was dramatically etched during my childhood) waiting for opportune moments to strike fear into my heart once more. While I wasn't overcome with fear like the main character in Seizure!, I was definitely a bit creeped out to awake with this picture in my mind.

Pretty random eh? I hope that's the impression you were left with after reading about my dream because, much like a real dream, that's what you're left feeling after watching Seizure! Chris is correct in his assertion that the directing from young Ollie left a bit to be desired. I get that he was trying to mimic the feel of being in a nightmare and how abruptly once can jump from scene to scene in one, but as I've said in the past during the project: intentions don't always equate to good film making. Sometimes taking a risk cinematically works, but as film history is teaching me, most times it doesn't. In this case the editing left the viewer feeling frustrated (not immersed) and thinking a student had directed the film.

Don't start the pity party yet though! There were some good things going on in Seizure!, namely Herve Villechaize (he was by far the best part of this film for me). Never have I seen such a little man genuinely seem like a menace! Even when wielding a gun, pint sized actors tend to feel less than threatening on screen and normally are made to look imposing via camera tricks or plotline - not so in Seizure! In this film Herve displayed a physicality I've never seen in such a small actor (and probably never will again). His physical prowess combined with his chilling accent and deadpan delivery equaled a character that left an indelible impression on me.

Seizure! also had some fun moments where in reveled in being a 70s film and employed some cheesy effects (most were decent, but the majority of the makeup was a bit Krafty). I'll leave you to discover these moments on your own should you feel tempted to check this flick out.

If nothing else, Seizure! left a distinct impression on us here at the RDHP, growing like a cancer in Chris's mind while actually invading mine in dream form (to my recollection a first in RDHP history - which is surprising given the number of horror films we've watched). It made us feel kinda funny and no doubt etched a memory into one of those quietly forgotten places in our psyche, where it will quietly wait to scare us again some day...

Like I said: dreams can be messed up."

The Skinny: Check this film out if you want to see how to not edit a film or if you dare test whether watching a horror movie about dreams can invade your dreams.

Things We Learned From Seizure!:
-Darkness, damnation and meaningless death await many.
-Don’t ever accept face cream from a dwarf prince.
-Foggy lenses make anyone look younger.
-There is a woman named Christine Pickles.
-Always stay in shape. It might just save your life.
-Coolest way to exit a car – through its sunroof.
-Remember the name, Charles Hughes.
-Nick loved to scare his mom.
-It’s socially acceptable for male guests to walk around in bikini briefs in the morning.
-Waking up screaming is the best way to wake up.

RDHP Salutes:
Profane Gestures
Sometimes words just aren’t enough to express one’s displeasure. In times like those, gestures can really get the point across to your foe. An offended gas station attendant busted out a good old “up-yours-ahole” forearm grab in “Seizure!” This got us thinking… what are some other profane gestures that really say more than 1,000 words? (Note, some gestures have been left off this list in the interest of keeping the RDHP a PG-13 rating. Look at those on your own time, pervert.)

Flying the Bird
The old standby. Used by children and grandmothers alike.

Side Arm “Shove It”
Modification of the “stick your opinions and attitude in your cornhole.” Nearly extinct since the 1970s. This is so rare, even the internet doesn't have a photo. Therefore, we present this angry old man.

Cross Arm “Shove It”
Modern version of the side arm shove. Used only in extreme situations.

Suck It Arm Cross
Popularized by wrestling in the early 2000s, and the bane of 8th grade teachers around the world since.

Kiss My Ass Pat
A little tap tap on the butt says a lot. Simple, but it gets the point across.

Chin Flick
Popular with Italians, this is a silent way to go Soft Cee-lo and say “Forget You.”

Double Barrel Bird
For those times when one middle finger just doesn’t do it.

Heart hand gesture
Invented by the “Queen of Crass” Taylor Swift, this gesture means she will rip your heart out and eat it with your soul. And we all thought she was a softie.

Mary Woronov: Hot or Not?
A supporting actress with a long history in horror/sci-fi, Mary Woronov is the definition of an unconventional beauty.
Men are usually more confused than attracted by her looks. With films like “Death Race 2000,” “Silent Night, Deadly Night,” “Rock N’ Roll High School” and “Night of the Comet” on her resume, it is not hard to say Ms. Woronov is a cult movie icon.
Chris met Mary at a movie event in Chicago, were she appeared to be appreciative of her fans and thankful for her long career. A true class act. But character aside, let’s talk about what really matters – her looks! Is she the ultimate butterface, or does her beauty go beyond skin and lie in her mysterious eyes? Judge for yourself with this collection of Woronov pics:


  1. I have to go with butterface. Overall, she seems a little to manish if you ask me (and you did).

  2. We did indeed! :) Yeah, she has very manly facial features... almost tranny like features.
    An odd bird -- looks wise.