Thursday, August 11, 2011

'Point of Terror' is nearly pointless

Point of Terror (1971)
Starring: Peter Carpenter, Dyanne Thorne, Leslie Sims, Joel Marsten, Paula Mitchell, and Lory Hansen
Director: Alex Nicol
Rating: Three of Ten Stars

Lounge singer Tony Trelos (Carpenter) thinks his dreams of stardom are at hand when he becomes the latest boy-toy for the oversexed wife of a record executive (Thorne) and she promises him a record contract. But things get dangerously complicated when her husband (Marsten) turns up dead and Tony falls in love/lust with her stepdaughter (Hansen).

"Point of Terror" is a messy movie that meanders through a predictable "Pride Goeth Before a Fall" story. The tone varies widely from comedy to thriller to horror, but it never stays with one atmosphere long enough to establish whether writer/producer/star Peter Carpenter failed at making an erotic thriller, a horror movie, or a dark comedy. Although the demise of the abusive husband, some of the revelations around Dyanne Thorne's character, and the fact that Tony Trelos is about as dumb as a box of rocks make me wonder if this is a REALLY dry comedy, I THINK Carpenter and director Alex Nicol were trying to make a thriller in the Italian "gaillo" vein. Unfortunately, while they captured the incoherence so dominant in many Italian mysteries and thrillers, they captured none of the style. Worse, scenes with flourishes that were intended to be artistic drag on and on and on and feel more like padding than anything else. (You know you're watching an erotic thriller gone wrong when you are reaching for the remote to fast-forward through the sex scenes because they are boring and the music score under them is nerve-gratingly bad).

The film isn't helped by the fact that the only performer with any screen presence in the whole thing is Dyanne Thorne. As prone as I am to make jokes about her two humongous talents, she actually does have quite a bit of charisma... and it really shows when she's surrounded by the caliber of actors in this film. She pretty much steals the movie from poor Peter Carpenter, although he obviously intended this to be his vehicle of stardom.

Speaking of Carpenter, this is the second of his films that I've watched--the other being "Blood Mania", which he also wrote, produced, and starred in, and which I will be reviewing one of these days. In both cases, I felt that he was an okay actor but simply didn't have much in the way of screen presence... or maybe he simply had the misfortune of always playing against actresses who outshone him. This was the last of Carpenter's films, and I feel like he was to the 1970s as John King was to the 1940s.

1 comment:

  1. Director Alex Nicol was remembered for 1958's THE SCREAMING SKULL, while editor Verna Fields would go on to win an Oscar for Spielberg's JAWS. Leslie Simms was the lone holdover from BLOOD MANIA, but Dyanne Thorne (from STAR TREK's "A Piece of the Action") had earlier worked with Peter Carpenter in LOVE ME LIKE I DO (a more apt title for this one!). Joel Marston, as the invalid husband, had done 1957's THE DISEMBODIED (Allison Hayes), debuting in the 1949 Charlie Chan finale THE SKY DRAGON, while BLOOD MANIA's Jacqueline Dalya was the murder victim in 1941's CHARLIE CHAN IN RIO. Interesting mixture of pretty newcomers with little known Hollywood veterans.