I watched this for Final Girl’s film club. I had actually never heard of this movie before, despite it being an early Wes Craven movie. This movie came out 4 years after The Hills Have Eyes and 3 years before A Nightmare on Elm Street. By looking at the cover, I didn’t know what to expect. Something sexy with Sharon Stone, probably.
I was even wrong on that front.
The basic story is simple. Martha and Jim live on a farm (titled “Our Blessing”) next to an extremely conservative religious group called the Hittites. It is said that these Hittites “make the Amish look like swingers.” (I have been around quite a few Amish in my day, and I don’t believe that statement to be true. Moving on…)
One night, Jim hears a noise in his barn. He goes out to check it out, and is promptly run over by his tractor. His death is chalked up to an accident. Apparently tractors often start themselves up and run people over? Like Christine, but much slower.
The leader of the Hittites (a man named Isaiah, played with crazed fanaticism by Ernest Borgnine) tries to buy the farm off of Martha. She says no, and he calls her “the incubus” (which he does a lot of in this movie). He’s very angry and pretty threatening. It’s clear that we are to believe that he is the killer.
Martha’s city friends (Lana and Vicky) come out to visit/console Martha. Vicky falls for one of the Hittites (John, who is one of Isaiah’s sons), but it appears to be a lost cause, as he is already engaged to his cousin. Ah…young love.
El Amor Prohibido
Lana doesn’t have anywhere near as much fun. She gets trapped in the barn with the killer, has the corpse of Jim fall on her, and has recurring nightmares of having spiders crawl into her mouth (thus the cover, now decidedly unsexy).
Weird stuff happens around the house, and it is clear that someone (or something) is trying to kill them. Or, rather, trying to kill Martha.
It has the feel of a slasher movie: a shadowy figure hiding in dark places, stalking pretty girls. A pretty standard stalk-and-kill movie, but with a slightly different feel. For the majority of the movie, it was not clear if the killer was an actual person or a supernatural being. That adds a bit more mystery to the events of the movie.
Overall, I didn’t love this. It wasn’t overly long (100 minutes), but it was really slow in parts, which made it feel much longer than its actual running time. The story really seemed to drag at times. I know there were multiple times where it didn’t feel like anything was happening. I was bored quite often while watching this.
Still, it wasn’t all bad. There were a number of entertaining parts: some intentional, some not. I laughed pretty much every time Isaiah called someone “the incubus”. I laughed at the ridiculously skimpy outfits that Vicky wore around the extremely conservative Hittites (because when your friend’s husband was quite possibly murdered by an extreme religious group, the smart thing to do is provoke them). And I laughed at the final jump scare, which seemed out of place but also kind of fitting.
There was one scene that I found really interesting. Martha is in the bathtub, and the killer releases a snake into the bathroom. It finds its way into the tub, and, while Martha has her eyes closed, raises its head above the water between her legs. Craven would use this exact same scene 3 later in A Nightmare on Elm Street. It is the exact same shot (with Freddy’s claw substituted for the snake, naturally).
I guess I’m glad I watched this, but I can’t say I really enjoyed it too much. I didn’t hate it, but I wouldn’t choose to watch it again, and I would really recommend it to anyone.