Pure Terror: The Oval Portrait

December 13, 2014 at 5:44 pm Leave a comment

I watched The Oval Portrait three times and barely remember anything about it. I watched it again only a week ago and the movie washed mostly out of my mind. In a way, this makes The Oval Portrait a candidate for the worst movie on the Pure Terror set. Movies like The Undertaker and His Pals, and Guru the Mad Monk, make me angry with how bad they are but at least I remember them. Manos the Hands of Fate clearly had the lowest budget and least amount of talent in front of and behind the camera. But I remember that movie. The Oval Portrait left very little of an impression on me after three viewings, two of wish I feel asleep during.

What I can tell you about this movie is that it starts out with a woman named Lisa who has come to an old plantation house for a will reading of a departed relative. She sees a portrait of an ancestor that supposedly looks like her. Most of the movie tells us Rebecca’s story. She lived on this plantation during the Civil War with her domineering father. A soldier on the run hides out on the plantation but Rebecca doesn’t turn him in. She falls in love with him. They have a relationship while her father is away but when he comes back the soldier is turned over to the authorities and Rebecca is thrown out of the house. She dies during child birth, I think. Allegedly, The Oval Portrait was based on the works of Edger Allen Poe. I have seen quite of few of these Poe adaptations from the 70’s and that claim is usually dubious at best.

What I remember is that it looked like they put a lot of money into this movie. The plantation house was no doubt a real, period authentic plantation house. Not and easy or cheap find as any location scout will tell you. They invest quite a bit in a Civil War reenactment. While the shot selection and camera movement were uninspired the color and lighting were well done. I sense the VHS to DVD transfer that Mill Creek performed did this movie no favors.

The bad on The Oval Portrait is the acting. I can some it up in one work. Laconic. People seemed uninterested and just going through their lines. There was the occasional raised voice when Rebecca fights with her father but I sense that was the actor playing the Father overwhelming her and forcing her to snap out of her trance for at least one scene. The story plays out like a Soap Opera. The pacing is slower than molasses. It’s a movie that really doesn’t stick with you in any meaningful way. In fact, I’m starting to forget other movies I have watched. If only they could harness that power of this movie to make a proceed like Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless mind, then they might be onto something. This is one you can watch if you feel like it but I doubt you will take anything away from it. It’s doubtful one could successfully riff on The Oval Portrait. Feel free to try though.


Entry filed under: Drama, Horror. Tags: , , , , .

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