Okay for a merely very good and entertaining horror thiller from the 197os this movie has a pretty awesome cast. Tom Selleck, Ed Harris and Rip Torn all appear in this film and they aren’t even the stars or major characters. Heading the film are Michael Douglas, Geneviève Bujold, and legendary actor Richard Widmark. Famous Bond girl Lois Chiles also makes an appearance as a woman who suffers misfortune, because well it’s a 70s horror thriller set in a hospital. Nothing good ever happens there.
Susan Wheeler and Mark Bellows (Douglas, Bujold) have trouble in their relationship. They also have trouble at the hospital they work at, Boston Memorial, where normal healthy people are falling into comas for no reason. Susan has her suspicions while Mark is convinced it’s nothing. Desperate, she confides in Dr. George Harris (Widmark), who tries to keep her out of trouble. Things spiral from there of course, and there are many tense and crazy scenes that are well crafted. I particularly loved a freaky moment in a clinic that is straight out of a David Cronenberg movie. Funny considering this was made during his early period, and I have to wonder if it helped inspire Dead Ringers.
Furthermore the last act is a bit outlandish if not completely paranoid driven, and yet it works. The movie is largely an exercise in slow burn and the payoff is worth the film’s solid runtime. Douglas and Bujold have great chemistry together, and Crichton actually shows talent as a director. Maybe more writers should make movies, or perhaps just certain ones can direct. Also the film has some interesting commentary on sexual politics (Susan would probably be more easily believed if she was a man or not in the 1970s) and some thoughts on the medical profession.
Widmark’s monologue is fantastic and crazy, a sample of it being: “Our society faces momentous decisions. Decisions about the right to die. About abortion. About terminal illness, prolonged coma, transplantation. Decisions about life and death. But society isn’t deciding. Congress isn’t deciding. The courts aren’t deciding. Religion isn’t deciding. Why? Because society is leaving it up to us, the experts. The doctors.” I guess in all of the madness I forgot that this movie is very well written and has some quality dialogue. Nice.