Sunday, October 21, 2012

Breaking Wind: "The Wind" (1987)



Greek director Nico Mastorakis gives us eighty minutes of solid suspense, then betrays his audience with a laughable climax. Spoilers ahead...

Sian Anderson (Meg Foster) leaves boyfriend John (David McCallum) and Los Angeles and flies to a secluded island off Greece. She needs the isolation to write her next novel. Sian is no romance writer, she pens violent murder mysteries. She rents a house from Elias (Robert Morley) and settles in, meeting her misfit neighbor and Elias' inadequate handyman Phil (Wings Hauser).

Mastorakis jumps into the action right away. Sian is warned to stay indoors at night, as the island experiences terrible windstorms on a daily basis. As she types away, Phil murders Elias, who is trying to evict him. Sian spots him burying something in the garden, and calls John, who is of little help half a planet away. Sian gets in touch with Elias' Greek wife, who comes out to the house to investigate and is promptly dispatched as well.

The film then turns into a game of cat and mouse. Phil arms himself with an ugly sickle, and slips in and out of Elias' house, terrorizing Sian. John finally gets in touch with the local police, and Kesner (Steve Railsback), a stranded seamen, goes to investigate the call as a favor to the constable. Phil has been hiding the evidence, and Kesner believes Sian's imagination may have got the best of her.

Careful, this paragraph has the spoilers. Kesner is killed, and the game continues. Finally, Sian stabs Phil in with an elaborate trap, and flees to freedom. This is where Mastorakis should have rolled credits. Instead, two newlyweds stop by the house and find no one home. Sian keeps falling into holes in the ground, and cannot get to the couple in time before they drive off. In keeping in true slasher form, Phil magically comes back to life and the two have a final showdown on a cliff, where a very unconvincing mannequin is thrown into the ocean in the process.

This film made me mad. The director/co-writer had a neat film going. Sian relies on her smarts to survive. Her talking to herself seems so natural, because she sounds like a reasonable human being. Phil flips out all at once, but Hauser does not turn him into an unstoppable killing machine (until the finale). Kesner is so out of the blue, his fate is not expected, either. John has little to do, I thought for sure he was behind the whole murder plot, but I was wrong. If Mastorakis had left out the last ten minutes of this film, he would have had a minor classic.

As Sian wanders away from a thought-dead Phil, the credits should have started. The villain was dead and the suspense had abated. Throwing in the bickering honeymoon couple added nothing to the film. The climactic showdown feels padded and does not work on any level. The wind effects are good, the gore works for what little of it there is, and Mastorakis' direction at times reminded me of Soavi or Argento, two European horror masters. Hans Zimmer adds a good musical score.

If he had left well enough alone, I would have been thrilled. However, "The Wind" blows itself out, leaving me disappointed. Stop the film after eighty minutes, and be happy. Continue it, and you'll agree with me. (* * *) out of five stars. Get this movie now!: The Wind