Combustible Celluloid
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With: David Hemmings, Carmen Duncan, Robert Powell, Broderick Crawford, Alan Cassell, Mark Spain, Alyson Best
Written by: Everett De Roche
Directed by: Simon Wincer
MPAA Rating: PG
Running Time: 95
Date: 03/18/2013

Dark Forces (1980)

2 1/2 Stars (out of 4)

Be a Clown

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

Also known as Harlequin, this horror film has a high-quality, professional feel but somehow lacks tension or any emotional connection. A senator (David Hemmings) is trapped in a loveless marriage (to Carmen Duncan); their son is stricken with leukemia. The assistant governor dies in a freak accident, suddenly promoting the senator in rank. At the same time, a strange man, Gregory (Robert Powell) appears at their home, suddenly curing and befriending the young boy. As Gregory, Powell is overly proper and slightly pinched and he keeps us too far off balance. On the other hand, the senator and his wife don't particularly offer much in the way of sympathy, and the child actor seems to have been dubbed by an adult, giving him a freakish, distancing effect. Director Simon Wincer (The Phantom, Crocodile Dundee in Los Angeles) provides a few terrific set-pieces, as when Gregory performs "magic" tricks for his disbelieving enemies, and the special effects are excellent, especially for the period. Broderick Crawford (Born Yesterday, Scandal Sheet, Human Desire) appears in one of his final roles as a sinister mystery man who appears to control all the political pawns. Elite's new DVD looks great, letterboxed in the 2.35-to-1 format, plus a director commentary track, behind-the-scenes stills, a trailer gallery (Dark Forces, Patrick, Syngenor, Thirst and Strange Behavior), a cast and crew filmographies.

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