Plot: What’s it about?
If you’ve ever thought your mother has made you do some unfair chores, wait until you watch this movie and see what this guy has to deal with. On a more serious note, this plot synopsis is going to be very brief, as you must see the events unfold to really understand what’s going on. I hate when a review gives away too much, so I will do my best to describe the basic plot and then let you delve into the details when you watch. John Pressman (Michael Lerner) seems like everyone else, he wants to succeed in life and most of the things normal folks look to do also. John has a rather unrewarding profession, working as a doctor’s assistant and really having little chance for any type of career progression. While he is often called on to take some abuse from the customers, he feels one has gone to far and becomes very upset. When his mother (Zelda Rubenstein) learns of this, she hypnotizes her son and orders him to kill those who spoke badly of him. His mother knew about the occurrence because of her shell (like a giant seashell) which allows her to hear everything around her. So, John does as he is told and kills the woman who badmouthed him, along with her husband and he removes their eyes. It seems like that shell has been talking to his mother a lot of late, so John just might have his hands full. And that’s just the start of this twisted tale of terror…
Man, what concept this movie has. This dude is hypnotized his mother, who forces him to murder people and steal their eyeballs. If that doesn’t have you horror nuts rambling in, I don’t know what would. Add into the mix the presence of the ever creepy Zelda Rubenstein, and I don’t see how this one has a chance of missing. Alas, despite all the positive traits this movie has, it still mires in relative obscurity. If you missed this one and want to make amends, now you have the chance thanks to kind folks at Anchor Bay. As has been the pattern with their recent horror releases, you’ll find an anamorphic widescreen version of the film, although the extras are a little light on this release. Even so, this unusual film deserves a place in any horror buff’s library, and those who cherish unconventional films will also have an interest in this one. If Anguish is one thing for sure, that one thing would be unconventional. I really like the suspense and tension found in this movie, it really drives home the atmosphere for the events that take place. Like most offbeat horror titles, Anguish is not for everyone, but if you’re into horror flicks, I suggest you look this one up.
This film was written and directed by Bigas Luna, who seems to love making movies with no solid storylines, which is cool by me. I mean really, too many movies nowadays spoon feed us information, and this film makes us figure some things out for ourselves. I’m always interesting in an open movie, where I have to make some choices as to why things happened or what something means. If this sounds like your cup of tea, check out some more films by Luna, such as Golden Balls, The Ages Of Lulu, The Tit And The Moon, and Reborn. If you ask me, Zelda Rubenstein (Under The Rainbow, Sixteen Candles) is the creepiest person to ever walk this planet. And I’m not just saying that because of her work in horror movies like this, she was even creepy in the teen comedy Teen Witch, for Pete’s sake. But that aside, she is effective in her roles, which I suppose is what counts. Michael Lerner (The Mod Squad, Godzilla) is perfect as the oppressed son, and Angel JovΦ (The Ages Of Lulu) is also excellent in his role. The supporting cast also includes Talia Paul (Born To Be Wild), Clara Pastor, and Isabel Garcφa Lorca (Desperately Seeking Susan, The Pick-up Artist).
Video: How does it look?
Anguish is presented in a 2.35:1 anamorphic widescreen transfer. I want to note that some grain is evident at times, but is intentional and I’m sure you’ll understand why after you’ve viewed the picture. The colors appear vibrant and bold without smearing, and flesh tones look sharp and normal as well. Contrast is also top notch, with complex shadow layering and very high visible detail level. The source print seems to be in terrific shape with few flecks or other wear signs, and no compression errors surfaced that I could see.
Audio: How does it sound?
This release contains a Dolby Digital 5.1 audio track, which is of course a remastered version of the original audio. I didn’t expect much surround use, but I found myself enveloped in the subtle audio this mix offers. I recommend this movie just for the audio alone at times, which has some excellent use of directional effects. The music and effects come through well, never drowning each other and working together to create an appropriate environment for the movie. The dialogue isn’t lost in the mix however, and you’ll hear every word loud and clear. I look forward to future remastered tracks if they’re this effective.
Supplements: What are the extras?
This release contains the theatrical trailer, which is in Spanish with optional English subtitles.