The Seventh Victim  (1943)

Octoblur 2015 - #40: The Seventh Victim (1943)

 
By dorrk, October 31st 2015
Octoblur: If the quality doesn't scare you the quantity will.

Often, older horror movies from the first Golden Age of Hollywood start slowly, with lots of static, talky exposition, before building to an exciting climax. The Seventh Victim, from the great producer Val Lewton and director Mark Robson, does the opposite: it starts with an immediately engaging mystery clouded in menace and becomes less interesting as it limply peters out to its impossibly weak conclusion.

Kim Hunter (from Bad Ronald and A Matter of Life and Death) stars as Mary, a young woman who is informed by her boarding school that her older sister, Jacqueline, has stopped paying her tuition and can no longer be reached. Mary leaves school to search for her missing sibling, and learns that this supposedly striking high society beauty is such a melodramatically depressed twit she keeps a special apartment on hold solely for the purpose of committing suicide, should the whim ever striker her. Before long, it becomes clear that an almost sinister conspiracy is attempting to thwart Mary's investigation — a cult of effete "Satanists" whose sinister plan is to lay down some serious guilt trips.

I've been a fan of several of Lewton's horror movies that he produced for RKO in the early 1940s, including I Walked with a Zombie, Cat People and Curse of the Cat People, and The Seventh Victim starts so strongly, with the usual effective atmosphere, that it seemed to not only fall perfectly in line with the others, but possibly even surpass them. However, as Mary and all the men who cling to her and her sister unravel the flaccid mystery, exposing the soft underbelly of evil surrounding Jacqueline's whereabouts, the movie loses all its potency with a series of increasingly unremarkable revelations. I also like Hunter; she has a solid and appealing girl-next-door presence, but the script gives her nothing to do after the first half hour, and everyone else — Tom Conway, Jean Brooks, Isabel Jewell — just goes through the motions.

It's tough to think of another horror movie with such disappointing (and aimless) villains — the kind that hatch no plans but rather hang their heads in defeat when confronted with a smug recitation of the Lord's Prayer. One can only assume the decently grim final moment is more a reflection of embarrassment from having had any association with these tools than it is a testament to the dark power of their collective scorn.

Great lesser-known horror movies

Fun, weird & dark corners worth exploring.
A Chinese Ghost Story (1987)

A Chinese Ghost Story (1987)

Demon Seed (1977)

Demon Seed (1977)

The Exorcism Of Emily Rose (2005)

The Exorcism Of Emily Rose (2005)

Friday The 13th Part 2 (1981)

Friday The 13th Part 2 (1981)

The Funhouse (1981)

The Funhouse (1981)

The Guest (2014)

The Guest (2014)

The House Of The Devil (2009)

The House Of The Devil (2009)

Housebound (2014)

Housebound (2014)

The Johnsons (1992)

The Johnsons (1992)

Kill List (2011)

Kill List (2011)

Little Otik (2001)

Little Otik (2001)

Motel Hell (1980)

Motel Hell (1980)

Orphan (2009)

Orphan (2009)

Seed Of Chucky (2004)

Seed Of Chucky (2004)

Silent Night Deadly Night (1984)

Silent Night Deadly Night (1984)

Spider Baby... (1968)

Spider Baby... (1968)

Starry Eyes (2014)

Starry Eyes (2014)

The Stepfather (1987)

The Stepfather (1987)

Suicide Club (2001)

Suicide Club (2001)

A Tale Of Two Sisters (2003)

A Tale Of Two Sisters (2003)

Dorrk's Top 20 horror movies

The boring list of horror essentials. If you haven't seen these yet, what are you doing?
The Exorcist (1973)

The Exorcist (1973)

The Texas Chain Saw Massacre (1974)

The Texas Chain Saw Massacre (1974)

The Shining (1980)

The Shining (1980)

Jaws (1975)

Jaws (1975)

The Thing (1982)

The Thing (1982)

The Fly (1986)

The Fly (1986)

An American Werewolf In London (1981)

An American Werewolf In London (1981)

Psycho (1960)

Psycho (1960)

Poltergeist (1982)

Poltergeist (1982)

Alien (1979)

Alien (1979)

The Omen (1976)

The Omen (1976)

Rosemarys Baby (1968)

Rosemarys Baby (1968)

Halloween (1978)

Halloween (1978)

Nosferatu (1922)

Nosferatu (1922)

The Texas Chainsaw Massacre Part 2 (1986)

The Texas Chainsaw Massacre Part 2 (1986)

Frankenstein (1931)

Frankenstein (1931)

The Return Of The Living Dead (1985)

The Return Of The Living Dead (1985)

Suicide Club (2001)

Suicide Club (2001)

Repulsion (1965)

Repulsion (1965)

Bride Of Frankenstein (1935)

Bride Of Frankenstein (1935)

Trailer for the Seventh Victim (1943)

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More Info:

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Links

Here are my Letterboxd lists for 2014 & 2013:
https://letterboxd.com/dorrk/list/octoblur-2014/
https://letterboxd.com/dorrk/list/octoblur-2013/

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