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REVIEW - The Seventh Victim

“And all my pleasures are alike...”

Dr. Shatterhand reviews


Directed by Mark Robson.

Finally got around to watching The Seventh Victim (1943) and man, it's terrific. Maybe you knew that, as it's generally regarded as one of the best horror films of all time. That's me, always late to the party! Well, hey, at least I still show up. Now point me to the snack table, and on the way we can talk about this super boss Val Lewton production.

The Seventh Victim boasts three of my very favorite themes in both cinema and life: Satanism, urban isolation, and ennui! Even if you're some kind of freak who thinks this movie stinks, you cannot deny the effect it's had on the genre: its influence is obvious in horror classics Psycho and Rosemary's Baby. Speaking of an influence on Psycho, the shower scene in this film is full of dread and menace like nobody's business. NOBODY'S I SAY There are some gay undertones in the Frances/Jacqueline relationship, no? It certainly seemed like it could be read that way. Then again, I think most things could be read that way, so. Speaking of Jacqueline, let's talk about her white hot, outré Cleopatra wig! It's perhaps the most startling thing in the movie. I looked up actress Jean Brooks because once you see that wig, why wouldn't you? The results were not as I'd hoped, to put it mildly: a few years of floundering outside the studio system until an untimely death of malnutrition caused by alcoholism. I was reminded of Gail Russell, whose equally sad tale I discovered after watching the superior ghost story The Uninvited (1944). It's always shocking when "I wonder if _______ is still around?" and some internetting deliver a depressing life story that's in complete contrast to the perceived glamour of Hollywood's golden era. I understand there were a few scenes scrapped during production, and I'd really like to see 'em because this shit wraps up in about ten seconds, and some ideas come out of left field in the final moments. Man, what a delightful downer of an ending! I think perhaps the greatest lesson in all of this is that you really can't go wrong with a Val Lewton horror production. Also, that I love snacks..

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