Lake of the Dead (1958)

I will confess to being amused that Norway is starting to build up a sort of horror film tradition, given what a propensity it used to have for banning horror films, apparently mainly for committing the sin of just being horror films (even if they were rated PG or equivalent in the US and elsewhere)… maybe not quite as ban-happy as Finland, but even so. So I was interested to learn Norway had produced its own horror film as long ago as 1958, and it seems to be one of those films that’s regarded as a national classic at home but almost totally unknown anywhere else. There’s a fairly meh copy on Youtube, though it’s watchable enough, and it stands revealed now as an unlikely forerunner of 80s slashers… consider the plot: six nice young(ish) people travel from Oslo to a cabin near a rural lake where the brother of one of the six lives. The cabin has its own history, built by a man who killed two people in an axe murder before committing suicide, but his ghost supposedly returns to possess whoever inhabits the cabin. And the brother is mysteriously missing when they get there… Remake this 25 years later in Canada or the US, add some violence and gore, you’d have had a hit. Actually, although the film is nearly violence-free, there’s an undercurrent theme of incest running through it that’s kind of surprising (given the period), and which gives an interesting gothic cast to proceedings. I’m not sure if it’s quite a classic as such, but it’s certainly pretty good, quite well-written and played, nicely shot in Scope, and it makes great use of a pretty stunning natural location; I’d like to get my hands on the DVD, especially if it’s anamorphic (which the YT copy I got wasn’t)…

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