The Premonition – USA, 1975

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‘Beyond the power of an exorcist…’

The Premonition is a 1975 American horror film produced and directed by Robert Allen Schnitzer from a screenplay co-written with Anthony Mahon. It stars Sharon Farrell, Richard Lynch and Jeff Corey.

Noted American composer Henry Mollicone provided the distinctive score.

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Andrea (Sharon Farrell), a demented young mother kidnaps Janie, her six year-old daughter, from the middle-class couple that adopted her. She also begins insinuating herself into the mind of Sherry, the adoptive mother…

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Review:

The Premonition is pretty oddball by modern standards – a carnival-focused movie, it has its fair share of demented moments, many delivered by Ellen Barber, who gives a quite extraordinary performance as Andrea Fletcher, discharged from the mental hospital but still not quite right in the head.

Obsessed with getting back her daughter, now adopted by white bread couple Miles and Sherry Bennett (Edward Bell and Sharon Farrell), she hooks up with equally psychotic circus clown Jude (Richard Lynch) and sets off in search of the girl.

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Things go rapidly downhill from here on in, and the film’s best moments involve the confrontations (real and imagined) between the two mothers and the disintegrating relationship between Jude and Andrea – Lynch taking his character from sympathetic and seemingly normal to full on psycho quite effectively.

This is very much 1970s PG horror – little blood, no sex but still entirely warped and doubtless traumatising for any kids in the audience (especially given the child kidnap theme). The psychic aspect of the story that inspires the title is a little underdeveloped and the ending falls a bit flat, but Robert Schnitzer directs with an efficient if unremarkable style and it’s never dull.

David Flint, HORRORPEDIA

Other reviews:

“Strange, complex and haunting, in the Val Lewton tradition, the film draws its effect largely from suggestion as opposed to blatant horror. Eerie and atmospheric, The Premonition is also graced with excellent performances…” Phil Hardy (editor), The Aurum Film Encyclopedia: Horror

“Everything is explained repeatedly to us, every significant moment in the film telegraphed and exaggerated. While this blatant approach keeps the film from getting boring, it also keeps it from making the intellectual and emotional impact that it clearly desires. Schnitzer simply doesn’t trust the audience.” David Elroy Goldweber, Claws & Saucers

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A great cast, offbeat direction, and good camerawork just can’t help the obvious and pretentious script. I will give The Premonition a little credit for its eccentricity and quirkiness but I barely got through this one.” Cinema Somnambulist

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“It frightened the bejesus out of me then, with its nightmarish segments, in particular, Jude’s (Richard Lynch) and Andrea’s (Ellen Barber) uncontrollable fits of rage. Their joint psychosis was a very powerful elixir as part of the carnival set piece. Their relationship alone could have made for an interesting story of madness, obsession, and self-destruction.” The Last Drive In

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Choice dialogue:

Landlady: “I would recognise him, even if I was blindfolded.”

Dr. Jeena Kingsly: “Unless we turn it into love, anger never dies.”

Main cast:

Sharon Farrell (The Eyes of Charles Sand; It’s Alive; The Fifth Floor), Richard Lynch (Good Against Evil; Alligator II: The Mutation; Scanner Cop), Jeff Corey (Something EvilCurse of the Black Widow; Jennifer), Edward Bell, Chitra Neogy, Ellen Barber, Danielle Brisebois, Rosemary McNamara (Dark Shadows).

Filming locations:

Mississippi, USA

Release:

The film was released theatrically in New York in May 1976.

In March 2016, The Premonition was released in the US on Blu-ray by Arrow Video as part of the American Horror Project box set.

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Buy DVD: Amazon.co.uk

Image credits: The Last Drive In | Wrong Side of the Art!

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