Seizure!

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Seizure!
1973 | 91 minutes
Starring Jonathan Frid, Martine Beswick, Joe Sirola, Christina Pickles, Anne Meacham, Mary Woronov, Henry Judd Baker, Herve Villechaize, Roger De Koven
Directed by Oliver Stone

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Horror writer Edmund Blackstone (Jonathan Frid) suffers from recurring nightmares while struggling to finish the ending of his current book. In his dream, friends and family are terrorized during a weekend retreat—a retreat now underway, with guests already beginning to arrive. The invited guests, and future victims, include the obnoxious loud mouth Charlie Hughes (Joe Sirola), his wife Mikki (Mary Woronov), and her ne’er-do-well lover (Troy Donahue).

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The character of Charlie has a memorable introduction as he attempts to gas up his car at a local filling station on the way to Edmunds’ country house. He humorously fails at bullying the attendant with his own inflated sense of self-importance. “Mr. Hughes, SCREW YOU!”

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As a harbinger to the events of the upcoming weekend, Edmund confesses to his young son of being scared of “something inside” him—but a greater terror manifests itself in the form of a hairless, orange-skinned Charlie cavorting in his swimming trunks.

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After dinner that evening, a bizarre trio of intruders forcibly breaks into the house, confronting the group of assembled guests. Edmund somehow recognizes them–the Queen of Evil (Martine Beswick), the Spider (Herve Villechaize), and Jackal the Executioner (Henry Judd Baker)—as products of his own imagination. The Queen announces that only one member of the party will survive until morning, launching an evening of murderous games with the rapidly diminishing houseguests pitted against each other for survival.

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Although not reaching the delirious pop-culture heights of the epic battle between Kirk and Gorn on the Arena episode of Star Trek, the staged knife fight between Edmund and Mikki—with Jonathan Frid and Mary Woronov eventually rolling around on the floor—easily provides the highpoint of the sadistic contests. After spurning the amorous advances of the Queen, Edmund returns to his wife, only to be rejected by her. She seems to realize Edmund’s role in the mayhem, and begs him to save their son. Edmund also pauses for a philosophical discussion of his dreams with professorial houseguest Serge (Roger De Koven), underscoring the fact that their situation is not an ordinary home invasion.

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Seizure! stalls its potential for exploitation to ramble philosophically on the nature of dreams and reality, before ultimately heading to a completely expected conclusion. Part exploitation, part philosophical meditation on art and life, and part Twilight Zone episode, the film doesn’t succeed in any of its individual elements. Seeming to understand his role in bloating the story with unwanted psychological underpinnings, Edmund’s sounding board Serge acceptingly walks off to his beheading by the Jackal—taking his punishment for the film’s artistic pretensions.

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