directed by Robert Altman

starring Susannah York, Rene Auberjonois, and Marcel Bozzuffi


Robert Altman was a “people” director; he excelled as getting into people’s heads and bringing their stories to the audience’s full attention. This 1972 film is his only horror work, and the horror is more psychological than external. Cathryn (York) lives with her husband Hugh (Aubejonious) in a remote house set in one of those Irish landscapes cinematographers live for. It’s implied but not stated that every adult in this film has had an affair. One of Cathryn’s lovers Rene (Bozzuffi) may have died in an airplane crash a few years before, but tonight, he knocks on the door while Hugh is out on some mysterious errand. Cathryn resists, then blasts Rene with a shotgun, and when her husband returns the only corpse is that of his camera. More people from her past appear, and its clear her mind is wobbling. And Rene is not the first visitor to her darkened mind.

The horror here is not the blood and clown guts today’s movies rely upon, but that Hitchcockian mind game of missed cues, wrong interpretations and internal dissolution. The blood is incidental, the reactions of those invoked muted, and the backdrops is disturbingly beautiful. I highly recommended the partial director’s commentary; here Altman points about all his subtle story telling tricks of repeated visuals, subdued camera work and subliminal audio cues give that feeling of impending doom one can’t put a finger on. There is a dated element this project that adds to its creepy charm. It even has a small role for Robert Morley, one of my favorite jowly English actors. Prepare for casual nudity, explicit violence and a slow pacing that pays off in creep factor at the end. “Images” is old school creep, and a refreshing look back on the genre.

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