Directed by Michael Crichton the creator of the television hospital series ER, from a medical potboiler by Robin Cook, Coma (1976) is an effective low-key science fiction horror tale.
It is muted in mood, tone, & color palate. Genevieve Bujold like most of the cast walks through the film in an almost drugged state or as though wearing a Noh drama or Greek tragedy mask. It could just be mistaken for bad acting but it seems really an artistic choice, the emotional responses being as subdued as the pastel sets.
Like the subdued tone, everything that is easy & obvious about how to make a thriller is reversed in Coma. It never moves at high speed; it's never loud; & instead of darkness & shadow, horrors unfolds in well-lit rooms. Even the crawlspaces are well lit.
A doctor (Bujold) is suspicious of a high number of comas resulting from minor medical treatments. As she begins investigating, she is led to a horrific underground source of human organs taken from people kept suspended from ceilings in deep comas in order to be harvested over time while still alive.
The supporting cast is more than adequate, notably Richard Widmark who delivers a wonderfully sinister speech as the climax approaches, & Michael Douglas as the slow-to-believe-it dim bulb who finally acts. But Bujold carries the film with her endlessly detached demeanor as she pursues a mystery the answers which, if uncovered, could land her similarly in a coma. She's never reduced to a scream-queen but is a stoic emotionless character who (so to speak) simply will not let sleeping dogs lie.
For many viewers the distancing this stoicism or detachment preserves will keep them from getting into what becomes a coldly told tale. As an experiment in taking thematic material that is usually loud & exploitative, & having it underacted rather than over the top, I found it eerily effective.
Franka Potente stars in the German horror film Anatomy (Anatomie, 2000). She's a medical student who discovers something sinister going on the medical school, & she could well be the next victim of a secret society with predilections reminiscent of Nazi experimentation on human victims.
Potente is a great actress so she is fun to watch even in this shlocky mess. It begins mysteriously enough with an underlying mythology that is truly appalling, yet credible given Germany's history & Hitler's fascination for occultism. But by the time Franka's character figures out what's going on, the story has deteriorated into a long string of running-from-the-psycho scenes with no more story.
The main premise is that there is a medieval "Anti-Hippocratic" secret medical society revived in the Nazi era & still going gung-ho. The Heidelberg school of anatomy has a grisly process of preserving specimens of various anatomical anomalies, a process which requires the specimen to still be alive while plasticized. This cult's cruel disregard for individual life they justify by their belief in a greater common good, for knowledge serves all society.
In the "coda" to the film we find out that the cult society exists throughout the German hospital system & though the Heidelberg lodge will be shut down because its existence was revealed, this won't interfere with Anti-Hippocratic experimentations on people in other hospitals around the country.
That German physicians are still Nazis is something a lot of Teutonophobes, possibly including myself, easily find perfectly credible. But the potential for Anatomy to have been a truly paranoic horror-thriller about humanity's potential for inconceivable cruelty toward each other is completely undermined by the primary reliance on a generic slasher climax. The premise of a flourishing Nazi medical cult should've culminated in something a bit more shocking or meaningful than the biggest psycho in the cult chasing the heroine around in a mazy basement with his itty bitty surgical knife.
At the end of the original Anatomy we are informed that the Anti-Hippocratic secret lodge discovered in the Heidelberg anatomy school is not the only such lodge in Germany, & medical schools with other specialities also have these lodges. In the sequel, the Anti-Hippocratic specialty is still anatomical, but no longer focuses merely on the manufacture of educational aids from living specimens.
In Anatomy 2 (Anatomie 2, 2003) a muscle specialist has devised a method of creating artificial muscles. Given that he is an Anti-Hippocratic lodge member, he doesn't care about the appalling side effects as he convinces otherwise healthy medical students to allow him to replace some of their muscles with his imperfectly manufactured ones.
I'll watch anything that stars Franka Potente but alas the advertised promise of her return in the sequel is scarcely fulfilled by what amounts to a cameo. The actual cast for this one lacks the charisma she brought to the first chapter, & her transient appearance in the film as a police officer ferreting out Anti-Hippocratic lodges shows up the rest of the cast as merely adequate.
The nazistic mythology of the Anti-Hippocratic lodges should've inspired further investigation of secret society doings modern & historical, but this element of the original Anatomy is underutilized in Anatomy 2, which quickly devolves into an action film rather than a medical horror-thriller. It's slickly made but it comes off as a German attempt to emulate the most commercial & least interesting aspects of Hollywood commercialism.
Room 6 (2006) is a cheezy cheapy schlock version of the bland "creepy hospital" film with a bit of Coma, a bit of Kingdom Hospital, & a bit of Night of the Living Dead randomly tossed together. Too boring even to please even die-hard shlockoholics, the talentless director Michael Hurst has nevertheless very quickly made a career for himself directing &/or writing bad movies, his "best" being the script for Mansquito.
Room 6 stars one of the wussiest most boring actors ever to disgrace televison & cinema, Jerry O'Connell, who seems to have mistaken the purpose of his character as comic relief but without the funny. After an auto accident "a mysterious ambulance" whisks him away to a ghost hospital, & his wife's "irrational" fear of hospitals turns out to be rational after all.
O'Connell is seriously upstaged by the leading lady, Christine Taylor, despite that as a scream queen she's pretty dull. Through hospital corridors she runs & screams, then screams & runs, & not only can she not act, she can't even run convincingly.
The story makes so little sense nobody even thought it was necessary to make the title apply to anything in the film. Really the title seems to have been selected only for the sake of a poster that allowed the two "Os" in "Room" to be drawn as sixes so that on a double-take you can make out the numbers 666.
Not scary; poorly photographed; & the bit of titty action is eye-rolling instead of sexy. There's an okay monster mask along the way, though you could buy one at Champion Costumes ready-made & it'd be even better. There's an unsurprising faux-twist ending tacked on to get it over with.
copyright © by Paghat the Ratgirl