Subject: I have found a DVD that I think you would enjoy
Actor: Karen Black; Christopher Plummer
Director: Harvey Hart
A detective investigating the death of a heroin-addicted prostitute uncovers evidence pointing to the existence of a murderous devil cult.
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So bad. So very, very bad.
Robert P. Beveridge | Cleveland, OH | 05/30/2008
(1 out of 5 stars)
"The Pyx (Harvey Hart, 1973)
While Harvey Hart did make roughly a dozen forays into big-screen directing, he mainly worked in television, directing episodes of such classic shows as Ben Casey, Star Trek, and Mannix, as well as a number of TV movies (many of the movie-length Columbo episodes of the seventies are Hart's work). Like many TV directors who try their hand at the big screen, Hart suffers from a compulsion to make sure space exists for commercial breaks, resulting in movies that are, at best, episodic; even when there is no deodorant commercial, we, as a nation of TV viewers, know that when you get a fade to black every ten minutes, one should be there. Suspension of disbelief becomes stretched to the breaking point, if not downright impossible. Sadly, The Pyx suffers a great deal from this conceit. That is not to say, of course, it is the movie's only shortcoming.
The Pyx offers us Elizabeth Lucy (Karen Black), who, in the film's opening sequence, plummets to her death from a twenty-story building. This makes it somewhat surprising when we see her in bed with someone a few minutes later. (Not that anyone's going to complain a great deal about seeing Karen Black in the altogether, I'm sure.) Eventually, you will realize that we're getting two timelines-- the days following Lucy's death, as detectives Jim Henderson (Christopher Plummer, in the nadir of his long and distinguished career) and Pierre Paquette (The Uncanny hunk Daniel Pilon) investigate, and the days leading up to her death, as we see the events from her perspective. Neither, unfortunately, is terribly interesting.
Much of the time it seemed as if Hart wasn't sure whether he wanted to make a straight murder mystery, a supernatural horror film, or a disease-of-the-week style movie about heroin. Whether this is Hart's problem or that of the John Buell novel on which the screenplay is based, I don't know; I haven't been able to figure out which of Buell's novels the movie is based on. (He did not, that I can find, write one with this name.) In the end, though, Hart tries to merge all three, and the result is an unmitigated mess. Elizabeth Lucy is supposed to be a high-priced call girl, but she acts more like a shy teenager half the time; you'd think someone working for the city's top madam would have a bit more experience. The madam herself is a complete mystery, an entirely inconsistent character. The detectives are about as smart of boxes of rocks. Etc.
I was given this one as a Christmas gift a while back, part of an entire boxful of DVDs that, I believe, cost the giver about five bucks total; I'd say they paid about what the movie was worth, given that each film would then cost about a dime. Worth a rental if you're planning a bad movie night, but otherwise, avoid it like the plague. *