The Forgotten One


Director: Phillip Badger

Reviewed by Paghat the Ratgirl

The narrator of The Forgotten One (Kristy McNichol) is not central to the story, which made it obvious from the start that the hero was not going to survive. Otherwise he'd've been the point of view character, which he was most of the time despite Kristy's inessential narration.

An author moves into a haunted Victorian mansion & the first two-thirds of the film is pretty standard but surprisingly good low-budget horror. An exceedingly beautiful femme fatale ghost-girl wants to kill our hero & bring him to her side of the veil. She's played by Elisabeth Brooke who'll always be remembered as Marsha in The Howling. This actress died in 1995 fairly young, of brain cancer. Brooks attended horror film conventions & is remembered by many horror fans. She seemed really to like horror rather than just settling for the roles in order to be employed; & she was generous to her fans who as we all know are rather goofily dedicated both to scream queens & femme fatales.

Her 1990 vehicle The Forgotten One provided an uneven script but her performance is a good one throughout, reprising the "evil seductress" Marsha-type character. The leading man (Terry O'Quinn) gets to play what is usually the woman's role of going in the basement half naked with only a flashlight & stammering "Who's there?" & the first glimpses of the ghost vary from horrible to awakening pity as she cries tragically "let me out" from behind the wall where she was buried alive generations earlier.

It's all rather creepy for a while, but the mood unexpectedly changes & the film's last third isn't as good as the beginning & middle. When it's clear the leading man is the reincarnation of the murdered woman's lover from the past, he starts to understand he really is in love with the ghost & would rather be with her than with Kristy McNichol.

Except for the fact that O'Quinn looks like a middleaged working class shlub instead of a stud-muffin such as Romance Fiction usually requires, the film mainly deteriorates into a Harlequin Romance with the supernatural added. The climactic sequences with O'Quinn fleeing, Brooks pursuing, & McNichol rather ineffectually seeking a way to destroy the spirit, is a bad clutter of images, too many changing sets, & poor plot continuity. It's like the scriptwriter wasn't sure if the climax was supposed to be horrific or romantic so it turned out being neither one.

Brooks as the ghost-girl is certainly gorgeous & several of her key scenes especially in the first two-thirds of the film are really nicely done. When her premature burial box was dug out of the basement wall, I thought the mummified remains were very aesthetically designed -- her bent up corpse was tragic, spooky, & oddly beautiful all at the same time. It's mostly a pretty captivating film, though the ultimate assumption that it's sexy & good to have a beautiful ghost repeately attempt to kill you never quite convinced me.

copyright by Paghat the Ratgirl

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