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The mind is a scary place. Worse then monsters, nightmares or killers that the real world can hold. There are places in which the mind will go into when dealing with the pain that we inflict on not only ourselves but to others. This journey to that other world has always been a hit and miss in the movies, rarely finding that correct balance to allow the viewer to see through their eyes. As someone who has had my fair share of rides into that broken landscape, this is one of those rare movies that it gets a lot of things right. Because that ride is troubled and not easy, it leads to a movie that is not easy to feel or understand. So what is this movie all about? Well we have a mental hospital for the army which gets a new leader Vincent Kane, played by Stacy Keach. Kane quickly takes to one of the patients named Billy Cutshaw, Scott Wilson, who had a breakdown before he was supposed to go into space. Soon in a not so shocking moment that Kane is really crazy and is there to be hopefully healed after he runs away in his mind from his actions in war. Doesn’t this all sound like the perfect movie for a Friday night? After an event in which Kane saves Cutshaw’s life at a bar, in which he also spills blood, Kane tries to save not only Billy’s mind but hopefully restore his faith in man. These are all very deep themes that lead to many questions on the idea of God and what it means to be alive. Like I said, I have been crazy a few times in my life, having dealt with a mental breakdown of my own and so the idea that Kane ran to put distance in his soul for what he did, is one that I can relate with. While I never killed anyone or hurt anyone physically, the emotional trouble that I unleashed unto some around me is just as wrong. At some point you see what you have become and you hope to be a different better person. Kane wanted to be better but of course it’s never that easy. Some never find it and others never try. This movie was not very successful when it was first released in 1980, many of the theme religious theme can be also found in director William Peter Blatty’s more known work The Exorcist, which he wrote the book screenplay for. The cast is great and so is the pace of the story. But that story is heavy and it can be a turn off for so many. So should you see this movie? Yes. It should be a must for anyone who likes movies that make you think and asks questions without easy questions.
Interesting movie that seems like it’s about mental illness but really is about faith. The journey there is quite surreal. Lots of dark humor, lots of strange events and images but the acting is top notch and the material they are given is really well to work with. Ultimately a story of hope.
Excellent and unusual psychological/philosophical drama w/ comedic undertones. Really quite a different film. Some of the comedy may be seen as "able-ist" by today's standards, but the film is still well worth a watch. Fantastic performances by a great cast.
Here we have the directorial debut of writer William Peter Blatty, who had his biggest success as the author (and subsequently the screenwriter) of The Exorcist (filmed in 1973). Supposedly, this film extends that horror film's themes (roughly a battle between good and evil) and forms a loose trilogy as the middle film between The Exorcist I and The Exorcist III (The Exorcist II was written by someone else and disowned by all involved). But trying to figure out how this film relates to the Exorcist thematically seems a nearly impossible challenge (there is some discussion about whether God exists, I guess that's it). The plot involves a castle purportedly in the Pacific Northwest of the US (but really in Hungary - and impressive) that is being used as an institution to house those members of the armed forces who have been declared mentally unfit for service. The medical doctor in charge is played by Ed Flanders (St. Elsewhere) but he defers to psychiatrist Stacey Keach (Fat City, Mike Hammer) when he arrives to determine whether the inmates are truly insane or just escaping duty. It is, perhaps, a meta-physical question but not really addressed here. The general feel of the film is a sort of cross between M.A.S.H. and One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest - but more pretentious, less naturalistic, and more forced. Scott Wilson plays an inmate/former astronaut who was unable to go to the moon, flaking out on the launching pad (and imdB claims that he is the astronaut for whom Regan in The Exorcist claimed "you're gonna die up there" - the only link to the other movie, I could see). Anyway, Keach is entirely vague and subdued in his part until a cryptic late "reveal" results in a violent bar-fight - perhaps he has been possessed by a demon or demons (or it is the evil influence of war and trauma). Hard to say. But by that point I had lost my patience with the film which ultimately seems amateurish and ham-fisted. If there is something of value here, it is hard to discern.
One of my most favorite films. Probably No.1...
confusing and irritating
A powerful and cerebral film made by a clearly insane man with an insane wit and a great eye for actors.
Interesting film written and directed by William Peter Blatty, the author of "The Exorcist." Stacey Keach plays the new commanding officer in charge of a castle that serves as a military insane asylum. The film is a bit uneven in tone, at times surreal, at other moments comedic, and deadly serious at others. I suppose that is the nature of insanity, which is a focus of the film, but it did make the film less a cohesive whole. Part "Catch 22," part "Slaughterhouse Five," part "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest," and with heavy religious overtones, it's a well crafted film that's filled with striking imagery and strong performances, particularly Keach and Scott Wilson (now better known now as Hershel on "The Walking Dead"). Wilson and Keach share one of the film's strongest sequences in a bar where Keach prostrates himself in order to save Wilson from a beating by a biker gang (one of whom is the menacing Richard Lynch). The strong cast also includes Jason Miller, Neville Brand, Moses Gunn, Robert Loggia, Joe Spinell, and Tom Atkins. Overall, this film is a mixed bag, but there are enough strong points to the film to make it well worth watching and likely revisiting.
boring, ridiculous script
Uhhh, go watch The Exorcist III, by the same man who wrote & director the original, as well as whatever this insanity is.
I'm not saying there isn't craft to admire in this film, I'm saying that it's a bit dated and ptsd Vietnam vet trope has been thoroughly exhausted in this type of story telling, so it's just a great mind who made a film that could have been decent if not for its mixture familiar & worn out tropes.