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This Thriller/horror movie tells the tale of a young girl who is terrified that her insane mother will take her away from her beloved foster mother. One day, the crazed real mother attempts to contact the girl at school, but her foster mother has a premonition and gets there in time to protect the girl. Eventually though, the real mother and her boy friend, a carnival clown, succeed and takes her away, leaving the bereaved foster parents to enlist the assistance of a parapsychologist to help them interpret the foster mother's terrifying dreams and psychic connection to the girl and find her before it is too late.Written by
Five-year-old Janie Bennett (Golden Globe nominee Danielle Brisebois) happily lives with her foster parents Miles and Sheri Bennett (Sharon Farrell), oblivious to the fact that her insane birth mother is attempting to kidnap her. When the birth mother, Andrea Fletcher, and her boyfriend Jude (Richard Lynch), a carny, do attempt to kidnap the girl, Andrea cannot go through with it.
Writer-director Robert Schnitzer was influenced by the European directors of the 1930s and 40s, as many American directors of the 1970s were. This influence is evident, and definitely has an Italian sensibility about it. And to keep costs low, the state of Mississippi provided cop cars, the fire department created "rain" with their hoses and a real carnival that happened to be in town was used as Jude's work environment. This makes the film look bigger than it was.
The casting of Richard Lynch was a great decision, catching him before he got any bigger. Lynch was hired, according to Schnitzer, for his "widely divergent moods" and for just being "unique". Lynch, in turn, claimed to be influenced by "Rififi" and "Psycho" in his acting. And to some degree the legendary mime Marcel Marceau, which is evident.
Baseball fans will notice a cameo from Roy White, the multi-World Series winning New York Yankee (and coach). This is especially amusing considering Schnitzer had no knowledge whatsoever of sports and did not even know who White was when he appeared in the film. (He was an active player during shooting.)
What I love about this film is the unusual score from opera composer Henry Mollicone, especially in the second half. Although the movie has plenty going for it as a slow-burning horror story with carnival overtones, the music really makes it stand out.
The film had mixed reviews. Leonard Maltin called it mediocre, saying its "muddled script works against the eerie atmosphere in this supernatural tale." A more positive review by Video Hound's Golden Movie Retriever called it "a well-done para-norm tale." Maltin is probably right for the most part, as the script could have been tightened... but that makes it no less eerie!
Arrow Video has cleaned up the picture and put this film on their box set, American Horror Project Vol 1. Thank you, Arrow! We get plenty of special features on the disc, too: Audio commentary with director-producer Robert Allen Schnitzer, who (of course) knows everything about the production. He also has a very sarcastic sense of humor that makes his stories all the more amusing -- are his tales of the turtle wrangler true or just a joke?
The Arrow disc has a brand new interview with composer Henry Mollicone. And an interview with actor Richard Lynch, which covers "Premonition" but also touches on acting in general, such as his work on "Scarecrow" with Al Pacino. If that is not enough, we even get three Robert Allen Schnitzer short films: 'Vernal Equinox', 'Terminal Point' and 'A Rumbling in the Land'. These films are so rare that IMDb does not even know about them.
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