October Horror Movie Challenge: IT! (1967)


Not a prominent member of our cinematic society, the golem is. Despite being a consistent source of early Germanic films, mostly under the creative guidance of Paul Wegener, the stone protector has been generally cast off, perhaps because his identity is couched in a specific cultural background. Frankenstein’s monster is a universal (and Universal) concept, but the golem will always be referred to at one point or another as hero of the Jews. Interesting then to see it in a decidedly British production, with the only chosen one in sight being the helpful but ominous rabbi who supplies history and caution in equal measure. And an odd bird IT! (1967) is, starring Roddy McDowall as a wispy curator whose fragile psychosis is given a swift power kick when he discovers the secrets to awakening and controlling his newly acquired museum piece. The movie truly lies on McDowall’s shoulders, for as deliciously fruit-loopy as it can be, the film would probably be far less interesting and definitely less engrossing if it were not for the actor’s capable skill in turning his megalomaniac momma’s boy from a one-note caricature into a sensitively portrayed weirdo who for all his eccentricities and derangement is still identifiable as a human being. The scene of McDowall tearfully relinquishing his hold on the behemoth is surprisingly touching. Other than that, this one has enough splashes of madness to hold the viewer’s attention. Most prominently: McDowall’s mummified mother who he carries on conversations with; the golem shaking a bridge to the ground and calmly stalking back to the getaway car; McDowall lighting a screaming old woman on fire; and our anti-hero’s eventual demise by nuclear warhead. Also suggested for fun parties: taking shots any time macho hero Paul Maxwell utters a line of homoerotic dialogue.

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