Harlequin (1980) Short Review
The poster says about all that you need to know, really. The FX look a lot better on the one sheet, though. I do have to say Dark Forces (the US title of the film) sounds a whole lot scarier than Harlequin (the Aussie original title), so that was probably a decent marketing move to get people to watch this whacky low budget fantasy. A soon as the first image appeared onscreen I had to recheck when the movie was made. The cinematography has a really awful early 60s look to it, faded and washed out.
The costuming in the film does have a mid 80s flair to it, though, especially when it comes to the central character Gegory Wolfe. Actor Robert Powell dresses as glam pop stars of that era tended to. He first appears as a clown and by the end of the film is wearing a cheeseball harlequin costume which sends the film over the edge in terms of repectability.
Stephen King’s Storm of the Century had some similarities to this (but was by far a better story). Apparently the writer, director and editor had deficiencies in the storytelling department. There is much unexplained like why Wolfe shows up in the first place, what stake he has in anything going on, the relationship/influence he has with the son and whether or not the character is malevolent or otherwise. There is also a subplot involving the maid that seems to only in the film to eventually get a topless shot or two.
The movie was trying to draw comparisons between the magician’s tricks and the behind the scenes machinations that exhibit puppetmaster-like control governments. It just did so very poorly. One good thing it did have going for it was composer Brian May handling the score. No, not the Queen guitarist Brian May. I used to think that, too. But the score’s not intolerable. May went on to better things such as The Road Warrior among others. This isn’t the worst film I’ve ever seen by a long shot, but it certainly isn’t a good film, either. It’ll certainly be on my Worst Films of 1980 List. A nice attempt, but still disappointing.