Sunday, May 31, 2009

The Omegans (1967)

1967 - The Omegans (Merit Productions Inc)

Producer/Director W. Lee Wilder Screenplay Waldon Wheeland Cinematography Herbert V. Theis Music Albert Elms Editor Anthony Lawson Special Effects Francis Rodker Assistant Director Francisco McLane Production Manager Vicente Nayve Sound Recordist Levy Principe Continuity Mary Abelardo Set Operation Francisco Balangue, Constantino Garcia Property Master Eduardo Urbano Wardrobe Vicente Cabrera Makeup Remy Amazan Hair Stylist Josephine Moreno

Cast Keith Larsen (Chuck), Ingrid Pitt (Linda), Lucien Pan (Valdemar), Bruno Punzalan (Oki), Joaquin Fajardo (Tumba), John Yench (McAvoy), Jeorge Santos (Clerk), Joseph De Cordova (Dr Salani), Lina Inigo (Singer)

Review from the Internet Movie Database:

This particularly low budget Willy Wilder Filipino feature casts Hammer horror star-to-be Ingrid Pitt as an unfaithful wife to Lucien Pan, who has to be the ugliest actor imaginable (so who could blame Ingrid for wanting to conspire against him with handsome co-star Keith Larssen)? At the core of this wildly bizarre quasi-sci-fi melodrama is the old-standard plot involving the cuckolded husband who discovers his unfaithful wife and her lover (his friend) are out to do him in -- and who eventually turns the tables on them. It's a very queer, campy film with a broadly hip score -- music which reinforces the kookiness of it all. Most theatergoers will be appalled by the film, but those able to keep tongue-in-cheek and are fans of the independent oddballs of the cinema may embrace "The Omegans" (though chuckling will be heard, no doubt). The Omegans themselves are a bit of a red herring, the real "demon" here being the tainted water that Pitt and Larssen are fooled to drink and bathe in (which ultimately poisons them). It should be noted that for actress Ingrid Pitt this film curiously forshadows her participation in Hammer's "Countess Dracula" (in which she portrays the true-life countess Elzbet Bathori who, among other atrocities, bathed in the blood of virgin girls presuming it to have the effect of restoring youth and beauty).

Here in "The Omegans" Pitt takes countless baths in the poisoned water, and age-makeup is used extensively grows more ill; in "Countess Dracula" Pitt would be taking baths and wearing age makeup again. A pattern? A stretch? Probably a weird coincidence...If the sci-fi element and exotic locations were removed from this film (along with Lucien Pan's horrid acting) one wonders whether the film's core plot element would have fared better against a more mundane background. That thought posed, it's only fair to say that the Philippine locations are easy on the eye, and while the film is clearly a misfire on practically all levels, it still entertains greatly on the due to its camp and mere obscurity. Look for some wacky scientists who seem more like dirty old men...Keith Larssen's costumes border on the "hello, sailor" type, and Lucien Pan's Filipino sidekick steals the show whenever he's around. One moment sticks out in my mind as being genuinely "good": having had her mirrors all smashed or removed, Pitt can not tell she is turning hideously ugly as the poisoned water does its trick and sits at the river's edge trying to see her visage in the moving water (to no avail). It's a clever touch (one of several), and touching at the same time (one develops pity for the character who first conspired to kill but now is the victim). One can only wish it were better, but it's fun for being as weird as it is!

Review from the Delirious Film website:

Safari guide Chuck looses snake (threat/mistrust of mediator to primal unconscious) on aging artist Valdemar (thwarted by traditional artist’s ally the self against Self) painting young wife Linda (fatal attraction to Beauty), capturing it restraining own phallic impatience (in oedipal affair w/ Linda [Val’s unfaithful muse], who "likes him but loves what Val stands for": guiding force split btwn attraction to world and vision + refinement); cut to Chuck’s business dinner w/ scientist-explorers (logical counterpart to artist Val w/ similarly questing bent) McAvoy + Salani (Yank + Kuala Lumpuri unison of consciousness + unconscious), latter recognizing Val from earlier association (he connection to primal memory) all joining in to journey to "forbidden waters" (oedipal rivalry for Chuck, uncharted psychic terrain for Val + occult knowledge for Mac + Sal) of the Black River (à la snake in grass: thanatos + enmity, water blood in similar arteries).

At END OF ROAD (conscious path [as dir’s career]), Valdemar’s headaches gone (sleep relaxing burden of consciousness), he waking in night to find Linda gone (END also of illusions about + need for her) + "fainted" in Chuck’s arms outside (he emerging from dark into light/awareness, fooled only for nonce); crew makes camp next day (repetitious mvmt à la Wilder’s Snow Creature, whose emergence similar to Val’s above) at waterfall crest of River (Fall also of man into Experience + corruption), which guide Tumba sez is cursed (Original Sin tainting blood, poison in water à la venom in snake), he falling victim (while filling canteen Chuck means for Val, T innocence perishing on oedipal drive) to blue light in water (deadly sperm à la opening snake in grass: man’s creative potential gone bad).

Drs McAvoy + Salani’s Geiger counter most active at falls (locus of psychic activity), where they see darting albinoid figures in brush (title race, primitive Origin similar END OF ROAD for civilized man undone by own instinctual passions), entourage packing after cremating Tumba (return to consciousness on disposal of subconscious link + readying descent to new psychic level on transcending physical self); back home (previous action predisposing material [in primal jungle] forming basis for dream to follow), Valdemar receives telegram (message from dreaming superego, aka Drew Gallery in Chicago – storehouse of unconscious images) commissioning new canvas (dream fodder) + he decides to return to waterfall (poisonous spring of creativity, which he left just as getting ready to paint: indie dir’s 8-yr absence from screen, Linda affirming he "turned out best work away from the studio" tho he worries it "just dsn’t seem to come off right").

Invited by Dr Salani to lab to view experiment (region of consciousness where particular mental process taking place), witnesses thirsty lab rat (lovers’ greed + own lowly impulsive self) drinking "forbidden" Black River water (illicit temptations), Chuck stopping by to shake Sal’s hand (he also having imbibed + driven to want more: addictive effect of transgression) + leaving phosphorescent residue (inevitable trail of evidence), Sal theorizing "Fountain of Youth" (Valdemar’s attraction to Linda atavistic desire for own idealized mother-origin: cf again dir’s late return to former inconstant muse).

At niteclub (internal location of unconscious revelry, similar to lab), notices glowing hand print on Linda’s back (intimation of carnal interest in exalted – + apparently untouched by him – ideal) + orders double whiskey (sudden thirst à la rat/Chuck’s, continuing need to inebriate self concurrent w/ quest for deeper knowledge: 1 + same in dream), thereafter tailing her to Chuck’s hotel (desire for primal scene [child’s witnessing of in flagrante parents recognition of own independence from Family Romance]), where he buys revolver (acquiring own phallus, coincidental w/ gaining knowledge traditional equation of phallus w/ consciousness) but declines to use it (overhearing scheme [on developmental stairway] use enough, gun instrument of awareness); back at lab (un/conscious quarters where he processes new info), observes glowing rat (own luminescent animal-self, having witnessed p-scene) + has martini, also drinking at home while grilling Linda (drink also illuminating her carnality) + determining to commercialize talent (now aware of own vulgarity: "Good or bad, give people what they want, so long as they pay the price for it" also message to Linda, Chuck + self concerning wages of sin).

Rat evaporates on death (contra Shakespeare’s "evil men do": dreamer’s transcendence of physical plane, phenomenon fantasy-replay of Tumba’s similar cremation), result of "omega" radiation (projecting self-terminality, film last in 64-yr-old dir’s 2-decade career) Salani guesses natives built up immunity twd (conjunction of primal + final ambiguity + satisfaction w/ nature-based "primitivism" reason for longevity [à la dir]), he + partner heading home now (psychic investigative work finished, they retired from consciousness) + Valdemar ditching gun on own way home (dismissing consc’ss again: work now to let "nature" take its course); new expedition (this time guided by "man" Oki vs Chuck’s condescending "boy" Tumba: maturation w/i consc’ss) back to Black River, where Val has Chuck take Linda out on raft (directing scene à la dir, film Wilder’s method of exorcising animus – by indulging it) under waterfall (poisonous quality of own anti-fertilization, depleting rather than fecundating).

At riverside assignation, Linda met this time by glowing native (emerging, again, à la Valdemar/Snow Creature, V having transferred i.d. completely to base primitive) + carried away (parody of erotic fulfillment) while Chuck subdues Oki w/ whiskey (by campfire, à la earlier Tumba: deteriorating mind in reiterative mode, "fire water" this time stopping short of killing – no defeating unconscious now) + Val initiates search (concurrent desire to bring to consciousness; not primal scene this time but anima abducted by lower urges), Chuck finding her inexplicably abandoned (point not in loss but absconding: illustrating inner, psychic activity); lovers continue degenerating (loss of ability to unite masculine + feminine qualities [Chuck physically removed, on mission for supplies] i.e. commercial + artistic and un/conscious, Linda/Ingrid Pitt’s deterioration foretelling later Countess Dracula), Val refusing Linda her makeup case (determination to see unvarnished truth, valise à la artist’s oil kit [film similarly becoming more compelling as dir drops cinematic niceties + lets venom work thru]) + breaking mirror (distancing from reality: truth internal, not ex-), wife unmasking painting (allowed only to see his interpretation of her: sole reality in dream, art seemingly engendering her decline) + shrieking Dorian-Gray moment of self-revelation.

Oki shoots disfigured, returning Chuck, who accidentally shoots Linda (apocalyptic mind collapsing on self as characters/archetypes revealed for what they are [luminescent deaths; cf similar conclusion to dir’s ‘51 Phantom from Space]) + Valdemar slashes canvas (film collapsing on self as well: graphic depiction of dir cashing in chips in terminal production) while entourage watches (witnessing barbarous Western Man’s self-immolation [Herzog-like commentary on imperialism à la similarly covetous Chuck sending Tumba to his death then eating his dinner] mind observing own disintegration, dissolving bodies dreamer’s physical connection to world), camera zooming in on mournful Oki (uncorrupted soul of film) just before he disappears into bush w/ fellowmen (return of spirit to nature, film also senior-aged filmmaker’s document of own purifying dissolution + demise; cf ending to Wilder’s ‘56 Manfish, Phantom + Pretender, gathering of witnesses key also to Killers from Space awa Fright conclusions), leaving artist isolated + ruined, nature triumphant, at night + in middle of jungle – what an end to a career!

Michael Weldon review in Weldon (ed), The Psychotronic Encyclopedia Of Film, New York, Ballantine Books, 1983, p.529

An extremely obscure horror/science-fiction film. A strange tribe is immune to radioactive water that causes disfigurement and life after death. An artist makes his wife and her lover pose in the water. It stars horror queen Ingrid Pitt and Keith Larsen.

1 comment:

  1. Here is a different version of life after death: