SEIZURE (1974) Reviews and overview

 

Seizure is a 1974 released Canadian-American horror film directed by Oliver Stone (The Hand), who also co-wrote the screenplay with Edward Mann (The Mutations; Blind Man’s Bluff; Island of Terror). Shot in 1972, it was promoted as Seizure! and is also known as Queen of Evil.

In 1991 Stone commented: “You have to stretch to like it. It wasn’t great. I felt back then the same as I do now, that I always wanted to direct, and the horror genre was easier to break in with.”

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Main cast:

Jonathan Frid (Dark Shadows), Martine Beswick (From a Whisper to a Scream; Doctor Jekyll and Sister Hyde; Prehistoric Women), Hervé Villechaize (Malatesta’s Carnival of Blood), Henry Judd Baker, Troy Donahue (Shock ‘Em Dead; The Chilling; Monster on the Campus), Mary Woronov (The House of the Devil; Night of the Comet; Eating Raoul).

Plot:

Over a weekend, horror writer Edmund Blackstone (Jonathan Frid) sees his recurring nightmare come to chilling life as one by one, his friends and family are killed by three villains, led by Martine Beswick as the Queen of Evil, Hervé Villechaize as Spider and Henry Judd Baker as Jackal…

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Reviews [click links to read more]:

Seizure gives the impression, not unlike the scenario fictionalised in the film Loaded (1994), of a group of actors gathering at a big old house for a weekend, under the influence of some substances, having made up whatever came into their heads and filming whatever occurred.’ Moria

“Unfolding with its own form of nightmare logic, Seizure feels as though it’s been cast in a thick haze, leaving viewers with the impression of drowning in illogical rhythms and surreal imagery. Standing in stark contrast the sweltering fever dreams of its strictly American counterparts, Stone’s film is more of a cold sweat in the vein of many Eurohorror productions, particularly the films of Rollin and Bava.” Oh, the Horror!

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“Part of Seizure problem is its opaque plot. I’m not entirely sure what the movie is really about … these monsters seem to have sprung from Blackstone’s imagination, but we’re not given any clues as to why until moments before the credits roll. Even then, the explanation is a cop-out.” The Collinsport Historical Society

“There’s much to appreciate in Seizure, including the surreal, avant-garde feel of the piece as a whole. There are moments that are downright kinky, and there’s even an Alice in Wonderland quality to the brutality and humour of the picture. But it’s all kind of half- thought-out, and poorly executed.” John Kenneth Muir, Horror Films of the 1970s

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Seizure‘s main problem is that is flogs the “Is it real? Is it a dream?” ambiguity to death. What Stone obviously hadn’t realized at the time was that a horror film audience is willing to suspend their disbelief when it comes to watching crazed ventriloquist dwarves and disfigured executioners.’ Canuxploitation

“Inexpertly made on a low budget – you can see shadows of cameras in some scenes – the film has aged poorly, but like so many of Stone’s works, its excesses … are perversely enjoyable. The cast handles the bizarre material rather well, particularly Frid.” Mike Mayo, The Horror Show Guide

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“Female characters have never been Ollie’s strong suit, and those in Seizure are no exception. The Queen Of Evil is everything a man could want and dread at the same time, the majestic embodiment of all our desires and thoughts – the alluring eternal female of our soul, she is both mother and whore.” Horror News

“It’s hard to tell what we’re supposed to take seriously. Unexplained ghosts come out of nowhere. The twist endings are no fun. But something about this combination of Hour of the Wolf and Last House on the Left keeps you watching.” David Elroy Goldweber, Claws & Saucers

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” …an oddball and at times crude piece of filmmaking with far out editing techniques and a freeze frame method utilized in some of the violent scenes […} Seizure’s casting is what makes it easily approachable and easy to watch, even when it comes off like an hallucinatory-induced episode of Night Gallery.” DVD Drive-In

“The script appears to be straining to say something about the creative imagination, but exactly what never emerges from the indifferently muddle which is distinguished only by Frid’s performance.” The Aurum Film Encyclopedia: Horror

“Flashy but disjointed and ultimately unsatisfying.” John Elliot, Elliot’s Guide to Films on Video

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Cast and characters:

Jonathan Frid … Edmund Blackstone
Martine Beswick … The Queen
Joseph Sirola … Charlie Hughes
Christina Pickles … Nicole Blackstone
Hervé Villechaize … The Spider (as Herve Villechaize)
Anne Meacham … Eunice Kahn
Roger De Koven … Serge Kahn
Troy Donahue … Mark Frost
Mary Woronov … Mikki Hughes
Richard Cox … Gerald
Timothy Ousey … Jason Blackstone
Henry Judd Baker … Jackal (as Henry Baker)
Lucy Bingham … Betsy
Alexis Kirk … Arris
Emil Meola … Gas Station Attendant
Timothy Rowse … Milkman
Oliver Stone … Anchor (voice) (uncredited)

Filming locations:

Quebec, Canada

Release:

The film had a very limited release theatrically in the United States by Cinerama Releasing Corporation, playing on New York’s 42nd Street in 1974.

In the UK, it was released by Marron Films Ltd in 1976 having been passed uncut by BBFC censors on 11th June 1976.

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