"Again a good movie has been issued on a lousy dvd. Not only is the picture quality less than many vhs tapes, but they falsely advertise a full-length commentary by Kathleen Quinlan, the star, which is non-existant. There is an interview with her, separate from the film. This is a movie which deserves better, and this is just the rotten, greedy kind of job which is going to ruin the dvd industry eventually. How the morons who take part in this sort of product can live with themselves is above and beyond me."
The Film of The Book
J. M. Donlon | Bristol, Somerset United Kingdom | 11/01/2001
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Based on the cult book of the same name, this true story manages to capture and convey the atmosphere of the book, and the remarkable relationship bewteen Debbie, a young girl suffering from schizophrenia, living in a world peopled by gods of her own creation, and her psychotherapist, Dr. Fried - alias Frieda Fromm-Reichmann, the wife of Eric Fromm, the famous psychoanalyst.
This truly touching and remarkable tale emphasizes the kernel of human potential and light in Debbie, and the considerable insight and compassion in her therapist, whilst set in the most adverse conditions of a mental hospital.
The acting is highly convincing, the direction thoughtful, while the story and plot-structure complement each another, in masterfully portraying the essential elements of the classic book by Hannah Green."
When she tried killing herself, it was just the beginning
Peter Shelley | Sydney, New South Wales Australia | 09/29/2001
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Director Anthony Page's treatment of the novel by Hannah Green, here adapted by Gavin Lambert and Lewis John Carlino, presents Kathleen Quinlan as a schizophrenic admitted to a female asylum, with only one heartless attendant (male) who is quickly removed. However the focus is more on Quinlan than the other inmates, and when Page presents the inevitable scenes of ward panedomium, the women's personalities have more range than the men in the Milos Forman film One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest. The number of women and this focus on Quinlan, actually precluded me from identifying Diane Varsi and Barbara Steele.
Quinlan's "sickness" is presented by her private world of a tribe enacted by Danny Elfman's Mystic Knights of the Oingo Boingo Temenos Theatre Group, who seem to be wardrobe-influenced by the American Indian. These demons say Quinlan is "poisonous" and fear her "betrayal", and the sessions with her psychiatrist Bibi Andersson aim towards Quinlan banishing them. However the title of the film is Andersson's qualifier, since if Quinlan chooses to join the real world, it still won't be easy. In spite of the way Quinlan's fantasy world hides her and her fear of betraying her Gods (Andersson is right when she calls them cruel, for they seem to have the power even though Quinlan has created them), no one comments on the remarkeable imagination it has taken to invent them, though I guess this feeds into the genius/madness thin line.
Clearly Quinlan's character is remarkable in herself - she's intelligent, funny, and of course lyrically sensitive. But the thing that Andersson tells Quinlan's parents seems truthful and also ties into the title idea - that she needs something to replace the sickness with. The cause for her condition isn't made clear - there is talk of abandonment by her mother after the death of a second child and some sexual phobia by her father - but Andersson is more intent on enabling Quinlan to feel emotion as a breakthrough. When Quinlan cries, touches Andersson and allows herself to be touched, and especially when Quinlan feels pain from self-inflicted cigarette burns, the music cues us that we are making advances. Of course, any cinematic representation of psychiatric treatment is false, since the chances of cure within 90 minutes are slim, but Page pleasingly suggests in the conclusion that Quinlan's Gods will never totally leave her.
The screenplay has the odd funny line - I liked Sylvia Sidney's "For the last 30 years, I've been analysed, paralysed, shocked, jolted, and revolted", and I was also grateful to lose the idea of Quinlan as the witness of conscience. Although Page wrongly introduces Quinlan to us in a rear view mirror image of her as animal, he does manage to hold back on the general hysteria among patients and also with Danny Elfman's group. I was happy to see the usually impossibly mannered Susan Tyrrell as a former nurse and even Signe Hasso as the resident thug - Hasso gets a laugh when she talks about being a former actress playing Joan of Arc "in Pittsburgh!".
As expected both Quinlan and Andersson are extraordinary. Quinlan looks a little like the young Jodie Foster though much more feminine, and occasionally Andersson's English sounds stilted, which is inexplicable since she has spoken English on screen before this. Watch for Dennis Quaid in a bit part towards the end."
robert campbell | nice, ca United States | 06/13/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This movie, with the acting of Kathleen Quinlan, has got to be, by far, Kathleen's finest performance. Although the scream of Kathleen in "Nightmare in Blood" surpasses none. Kathleen Quinlan has always been a personal favorite of mine. When I saw her in "The Promise" she did me in. She is absolutely beautiful and her roles are varied and showcases her tremendous abilities. I adore her.Sylvia Sydney should have received an oscar nomination. She protrayed Mrs. Corral the school teacher, coming back to the institution for a re-visit. She's been there before and the rest of the patients love her. When she was being checked in, four attendants had to carry her up the stairs, with Ms. Sidney yelling "cockroaches, Vermin!!!" When the attendants left after placing her in her cell, you see the bed flying out into the hallway (she threw it) yelling "YOU FORGOT TO TUCK ME IN"
That scene alone is worth the DVD."
Excellent performances triumph over low budget
David Bonesteel | Fresno, CA United States | 07/24/2004
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Kathleen Quinlan plays Debbie, a suicidal teenager who periodically retreats into a scary fantasy world inhabited by a frightening tribe of savages. This film tells the story of her stay in a mental hospital, the other patients she meets there, and her treatment by the sympathetic Dr. Fried (Bibi Andersson). This is a low-budget 70s film produced by Roger Corman but, like many of his other productions, transcends such restrictions. The resolution of the film is a little too pat, but its real power comes from the acting and authentic feel of the scenes in the mental hospital. This must have been one of Quinlan's earliest performances, and it is a heart-breaking one--sympathetic and vulnerable without compromising the more difficult and hostile aspects of her character's nature. All of the women who play Debbie's fellow inmates are outstanding, as is Andersson in her understated performance. There are plenty of familiar faces in this film. In the baseball scene at the end, look for brief appearances by a young Dennis Quaid and Ron Howard's little brother, Clint./"