Sunday, November 16, 2014

Medusa (1973)

Good luck deciphering the plot of Medusa, a jumbled mystery/thriller shot in Greece with two American leading actors accompanied by a European supporting cast. Perpetually tanned pretty boy George Hamilton, who also produced this disaster, stars as Jeffrey, some sort of debauched jet-set type who flits around Europe looking for a good time. The picture opens with a scene of Jeffrey dying on a boat and then, in voiceover, promising the audience an explanation for his demise. The rest of the picture is an extended flashback, but clarity surrounding Jeffrey’s circumstances—or, for that matter, his characterization—never emerges. Instead, Medusa grinds through one seemingly unrelated vignette after another. In one scene, Jeffrey crashes a party while dressed in an Elvis-style white jumpsuit, then jumps onto a table and sings until he’s dragged away. In another scene, he reacts with horror upon discovering that his gangster acquaintance, the sadistic Angelo (Cameron Mitchell), has murdered someone. And yet in the scene following that one, Jeffrey himself commits murder, since it appears that he’s either a serial killer or the accomplice of a serial killer. (The last thing this dunderheaded flick needed to do was play perceptual games.) Worst of all, Jeffrey chews up long periods of screen time by spewing bargain-basement philosophy, suggesting that, on some level, Hamilton envisioned Medusa as a character study of a playboy in decline. Whatever the intentions, the culprits behind this absolute mess of a movie (including director Gordon Hessler and screenwriter Christopher Wicking) can’t lock into a coherent storyline or a consistent tone for more than a few minutes at a time. After all, the same movie containing the frivolous scene of Jeffrey crashing the party also features an extended sequence of Angelo torturing some poor guy to death by pumping his stomach full of water until the guy drowns.

Medusa: SQUARE

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