Friday, May 15, 2009

Movie Review: The Pyx (1973)

The Pyx
THE PYX - Karen Black Horror - Movie Poster Image

Written by Robert Schlitt
Based on the novel by John Buell
Directed by Harvey Hart

Jim Henderson.... Christopher Plummer
Pierre Paquette.... Donald Pilon
Elizabeth Lucy.... Karen Black
Meg.... Yvette Brind'amour

Gun-packin’, gum-smackin’ gumshoe Detective Henderson is dispatched to investigate the death of Elizabeth Lucy, a heroin-addicted prostitute who may have jumped from a 20-story apartment building, or may have been thrown. Following the trail of clues like any self-respecting officer of the law, he questions Elizabeth’s roommate, harasses her madam Meg, and even roughs up a suspicious person or two. He learns that the deceased was Catholic, which he seems to think is extremely relevant to the case. When Meg and Laura are later found slaughtered, with a gutted black cat pinned to the front door, Henderson quickly rules out the suicide theory and finds himself entrenched in a murder mystery of satanic proportions.

The action bounces back and forth between Henderson’s investigation and flashbacks to Elizabeth’s final day of life, both working together to unravel the mystery for the viewer’s sake. Imagine Twin Peaks spliced together with scenes from Fire Walk With Me.

The film definitely has its problems. Aside from the poor transfer and audio (which may be the result of my shoddy budget release DVD), some scenes are too shadowy to see what the hell is going on, and on the occasions when the characters speak French (it was shot on location in Quebec), there are no subtitles, leaving the English-only viewer feeling a bit lost. With the wannabe sleaze quotient and the chanteuse-heavy soundtrack (featuring selections composed and performed by Karen Black herself), not to mention the heavy handed Catholic and Anti-Catholic symbolism and imagery, The Pyx seems almost as if it longs to be an Italian Giallo, but never quite lives up to that desire. Only the briefest moments of inspired stylized cinematography (such as the children pulling the police tape from the murder scene and using it as a jump rope) lends any real value to the film, which otherwise hobbles along at a crippled pace, striving desperately to be something it isn’t.

Aside from a few curse words and a couple of B&B (Breast and Bottom) shots, this probably could have debuted on network television, right after Matlock or Murder She Wrote.

ALSO KNOWN AS: La Lunule (Canadian French title); The Hooker Cult Murders

Rated R
108 minutes
English & French


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