Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Nymph (1975)



Before he found his niche making TV shows and family-friendly features, director William Dear worked in exploitation cinema, though he displayed no flair for generating trash. Consider Dear’s wretched debut feature, Nymph, a meandering drama about a young man who ventures into the wilds of Michigan’s Upper Peninsula in order to collect his father from a hunting trip because of a family emergency. An attractive young woman tags along for the voyage, though she’s hardly the sexpot described in the movie’s title; quite to the contrary, she’s inhibited by ’70s standards, refraining from intimacy until after she spends several days with her respectful would-be paramour. In fact, the only real sex in the movie, despite the come-on moniker, is a rape scene that happens inside the protagonist’s mind. Yet the lack of saucy content is hardly the biggest problem with this ineptly edited picture. Vast stretches of Nymph comprise shots of animals, bridges, cars, forests, trailers—really any old damn thing that captured Dear’s pictorial fancy—juxtaposed with rotten songs and/or voiceover tracks. Maybe 25 percent of the picture includes actual synchronized sound. And except for the bit when the protagonist and his girl run afoul of rednecks, virtually nothing happens. Dear cuts between dull scenes of the young couple chatting as they drive and even duller scenes of the protagonist’s father wandering through the woods, thinking aloud (by way of voiceover) about the elusive 16-point deer he wants to kill. Nymph is a numbingly uninteresting barrage of disassociated vignettes culminating in an ending so cryptic as to be pointless. The fact that Dear was able to build a career from such humble beginnings is remarkable.

Nymph: SQUARE

3 comments:

aperian said...

peter...what you don't include in your review of movies (particularly this kind of movie) is the theater that these kinds of movies played at. in the 1960/70's there were all kinds of theaters outside the major franchises. i was a kid so we went to old single screen theaters (on saturdays) that had one huge screen and we would literally watch movies all day for $1.50. we would watch a horror movie, a sci-fi, a motorcycle gang movie, old cartoons, serials (like the bowery boys), a western etc. the theater would have a thousand screaming kids and it was a hoot. these theaters were usually in a ratty part of town...

in the 1970's we went to drive-ins and they played movies like joshua. i know that my friends and i didnt care for these movies. we went because it was a 'place to go'. everyone hated these trashy movies but i guess the drive-ins made money for awhile. we would pack the trunk with kids and sneak them in..

By Peter Hanson said...

All true. I recall the drive-in experience fondly, though I mostly missed the grindhouse experience because I lived in the suburbs. I don't think it would be possible for me to properly contextualize every single movie that I review for the blog, as the details of release information would require exhaustive research. Plus, to be realistic, movies made in the 1970s are consumed differently now than they were during the time of their original release. Accordingly, what I try to do is consider each movie as a piece of stand-alone entertainment. I make all sorts of allowances for budget, I take genre expectations into consideration, and I try to place each film within the context of its star, filmmakers, or studio, if one of those elements is of considerable interest. My goal, therefore, is partially to ask whether popular films of the 1970s have retained their entertainment value, and partially to unearth forgotten and/or obscure movies to either sing their praises or to warn viewers who might be curious about dubious content. This is a long way of saying that while you're correct that something like "Joshua" might have been acceptable as background noise for an all-day cinema party, the relevant question today is whether something like "Joshua" merits attention. Thanks for sharing your memories, and I must say I'm a little bit jealous of the experience you had!

aperian said...

peter - you have a great site and your reviews are great!


also....you probably know but turner classic movies/fathom events show about 4 'old' movies a year at theaters. it is interesting to go see an old 1940's movie on a big screen. completely different experience than watching it on a tv size screen. i think they had one 1970's movie this year (grease?).