FINAL GIRL explores the slasher flicks of the '70s and '80s...and all the other horror movies I feel like talking about, too. This is life on the EDGE...beware yon spoilers!

Feb 5, 2008

vision problems

Yesterday I was tooling around in my car for one reason or another and I passed by a business with an ornate sign out front that read BEAUTIFUL HAMS. This made me very happy. Upon closer inspection, however, I found that the sign actually read BEAUTIFUL NAILS. This was a disappointment. What I thought I saw and what I imagined to be were so much more exciting and bizarre than the real thing. It's always such a downer when that happens- particularly with movies, as happened last night with The Nesting (1981). Sadly, yesterday was a day when none of my expectations were met. Well, except when I had a Diet Coke. That turned out pretty much as I thought it would.

I read this on the back of the giant clamshell box for the film:
Robin Groves stars as Lauren in The Nesting, a basheroo of a tale about a bordello that became a haunted house...Gloria Grahame is a madam phantom who leads a silky entourage of poltergeist prostitutes in their bloodcurdling day of vengeance.
and holy crap was I excited! 1981! Poltergeist prostitutes! "Basheroo"! I was sure- like, 10,000% sure- that I was about to watch the greatest movie ever made. Just like those BEAUTIFUL HAMS, however, this was simply not meant to be.

"I may be sick, but I am NOT retarded."

Lauren is an agoraphobic novelist from New York City who decides that a dose of country livin' is just the ticket to get her past her writer's block and her personal demons. She finds a strange octagonal house in the middle of nowhere, rents it, hears noises, has weird dreams, disrobes and fondles herself in front of a mirror, gets stuck on the roof, sees ghosts, and doesn't write a single word...though not necessarily in that order.

The Nesting still sounds awesome, doesn't it? It sure does...but it sure ain't. This film is one of those Tiffanies I talk about from time to time; it coulda been so beautiful, it coulda been so right. Unfortunately, The Nesting is a bloated affair that overstays its welcome by a good half hour and squanders any creepy sequences- and there are definitely a few creepy sequences- by...well, by being incredibly boring.

The idea of an agoraphobe being trapped in a haunted house is a good one, but then Lauren is only truly agoraphobic when the plot absolutely demands it- otherwise she's driving around, chatting with locals, and doing her thing. I always like a ghost story, and I thought I'd love a prostitute ghost story...but there's no consistency to these prosti-ghosts. They cackle and leave their high heels around the house, but to what end? Early on they help Lauren fend off the advances of a creepy handyman, but when Lauren figures out their story they decide they hate her. There's just no pleasing a spectral hooker, I guess.

Padding a film is never, ever a good idea, but The Nesting is filled with endless sequences of Lauren walking around the house doing a whole lot of nothing. There's even an interminable car chase, the highlight of which comes when you realize that there's only one tire-squealing sound effect and it's played on a loop.

That said, when The Nesting gets it right, it really gets it right. The octagonal house is indeed spooky, the few killings are well-done and a bit gruesome, and I'm always a sucker for creaky, creepy noises emanating from darkened corners. Somehow in the end, though, none of it adds up and the movie is nothing more than squandered opportunities. This bums me out even more than realizing that there is no store called BEAUTIFUL HAMS. Man, yesterday was a drag!

19 comments:

Adam Ross said...

"a basheroo of a tale about a bordello that became a haunted house..."

What an odd way to phrase that sentence. It would be like saying The Descent is "a basheroo of a tale about girls who fell down a hole."

Cookie said...

And it is!

Theron said...

If only there were a ghost story about prostitute hams...ooh, we could call it "Bootiful Hams."

Stacie Ponder said...

I'd never before heard "basheroo". Lemme tell ya, the description on the back of the box really builds up the movie. Whoever wrote it deserves major props, as he or she made The Nesting sound like the most frightening, outrageous, spectacular horror film you could ever hope to set eyes on.

In other news, shame on you, Theron!

Ryne said...

This sounds like me last night with "Penny Dreadful." I was all pumped to see at least an above-average slasher when what I got was a borefest and spooky things that led up to no scares.

Bill Walsh said...

Damn, brilliant marketing, disappointing product. And, yeah, those are some pretty awesome elements for a premise. Hmm...

Old Dark Housekeeper said...

Recently, I was approaching a hardware store and there was a big sign in the front window that said COOTERS FOR SALE.

I started walking faster, but then as I got closer realized that the full sign actually read SCOOTERS FOR SALE.

I suppose a hardware store that sells scooters is also kinda cool, but not as cool as one that would sell cooters.

Theron said...

...Cootiful Hams?

Pierce said...

I...I had something that I had planned to say about The Nesting. Really I did. But I just can't compete with "...Cootiful Hams."

You win this round TheRon.

kindertrauma said...

I love when she's at her psychiatrist's and she says something like " I know what you think of me, another brilliant eccentric writer." and that's all I can think of when I think of this movie. I felt sorry for her doctor and thought that they could not possibly be paid enough to deal with that self obsessed fake agoraphobe!

Stacie Ponder said...

Ugh, she was SO obnoxious and unlikable...not more so than her SUPER obnoxious and WICKED unlikable boyfriend...

frightnight said...

Boy, how weird, yet so fortuitous! Just two days ago I was trying to remember the name of THIS PARTICULAR FLICK!!!! And suddenly...today your post is about THIS MOVIE!!!! Thank you for giving me the name of it. The only thing I really remember about this movie is that there was, I think, someone killed with a scythe, which apparently left enough of an impression on me to still remember it after, what, 26 years!

(And, by the way, I kinda liked Penny Dreadful!)

frightnight said...

Allow me to clarify: the scythe killing is somewhat obvious considering the cover art for the video box, but if I am remembering correctly, a guy (maybe the STUPID boyfriend) got the scythe right in his face, and we get to see him stagger around a bit (kind of like a pay-off)!

Stacie Ponder said...

frightnight- the scythe killing was pretty rad. It was oddly preceded by the car chase I mentioned in the review as well as a foot chase, with a weirdo dude clumping behind Lauren yelling "I'll kill you!" for no reason at all. So strange, but a highlight of the film!

spazmo said...

Don't you hate it when ghosts can't keep their allegiances straight? I mean, they have eternity to figure out their motivations, right? Hmph.

Still, that octagonal house sounds pretty rad. I'm off to strip the cushions from my sofas and build an eight-sided fort in my tv room. You guys are all invited...we could make s'mores!

Anonymous said...

Hi Stacey, I'm just getting back online, so I only just now read your amazing Susperia review. I'm thrilled that you enjoyed this film - and for those of you wondering (in case ya didn't know), the blind piano player that gets ate by his dog is none other than... drum roll... DARIO ARGENTO!

zomben said...

There's a a vegetarian Chinese restaurant in Berkeley, CA I used to go to when I was in college and broke all the time.

First time I went in, it was because I'd been waiting in line to see the Elm Street "Dream Child" movie, and out of the corner of my eye could have sworn the place had a sign up saying "Because about your health we serve filthy peasant waiters."

When I double-tooked, it actually said "Because we care about your health, we serve filter-purified water."

For years after that, we'd all talk about "Hey, you want to go grab lunch at the Filthy Peasant Waiters?"

ladracul said...

I imagine a store called "Beautiful Hams" would sell pressing hams for sewing.

And they'd be made in pretty floral patterns...

But yeah, don't you hate letdowns?

Amanda H. said...

Just saw it last night and oy, you're right. I got it from Moviestop because it looked scary or at the very least silly and my Mom was saying "Why is she going out and stuff when she's afraid to leave the house?" It was good to make fun of but there was not enough killing for me and Lauren was a bit thick. (She climbs OUTSIDE the house from the roof but she's too scared to get her ass back down? Ya right.)