Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Tuesday's Overlooked Film: Black Rainbow (1989)

I watched this unknown gem from a VHS cassette I bought from a thrift store. The quality of the cassette was better than could be expected, no one had probably watched the film before me, which kind of makes me sad.

Black Rainbow tells about a medium (Rosanna Arquette) and her alcoholic father (Jason Robards), who travel somewhere in the forgotten parts of the United States, and put up shows where Arquette takes contact with the dead people, normally the loved ones of the members of the audience. Two things take place: Arquette starts talking with the dead persons who are not yet dead, and someone starts killing them at the same time. The premise is clever and it's pretty well developed, taking the story to directions one wouldn't easily guess. There are some very good scenes between Arquette and Robards, and some of the scenes from the clairvoyance show are silently thrilling, getting close to horror. Tom Hulce plays a reporter, who suddenly starts to believe in Arquette's powers. The main actors are believable.

Black Rainbow was directed by the English Mike Hodges. Hodges has done some very good films, like Get Carter and Croupier. Then he has done some outrageous camp classics, such as Flash Gordon (though it was done intentionally, I'm sure). Black Rainbow is surely one of his better films, a serious look at abuse and exploitation, not only at the clairvoyance shows, but also on a larger scale. It's a pity the film is not better known, as it didn't get a proper release at the time (Hodges seems to be suffering from this even now, since the same thing happened to Croupier). The film has been released on DVD, but some of the editions are no better than a VHS cassette.

More Overlooked Films at Todd Mason's blog here (as soon as he gets the post done, I'm sure).


Elgin Bleecker said...

Good cast, good director. Don’t know why I never heard of this one. But will look for it.

jurinummelin said...

Probably because it was never properly released in the UK and the US.

Todd Mason said...

Exactly. I only became aware of it a few months ago.