Friday, June 19, 2009

Wise Blood (1979, John Huston)

Ah, Brad Dourif. The ever talented thespian who unfortunately has spent a good percentage of the last twenty years in B movie hell. As happy as I am to see him pop up in some of the crap that I watch, I still think it is a shame that he's not in more higher profile films. I guess it must be hard going anywhere but down after being nominated for an Oscar on your first film at the age of 25. Though even after Dourif started showing up in horror and sci-fi movies, he made a nice niche for himself, especially as the voice of horror icon Chucky in the Child's Play series (check out my reviews of the whole series!). Dourif's other notable roles in these genres include the Gemini Killer in Exorcist III, Dr. Gediman in Alien Resurrection and Sheriff Brackett in Rob Zombie's Halloween. Wise Blood is an older film that Dourif made, directed by the great John Huston. I had read about the film about a year ago but couldn't seem to find a copy of it until Criterion released it on DVD, which is when I knew I had to see it.

Wise Blood tells the story of Hazel Motes (Brad Dourif), a young man coming back from the war to find that his old home is abandoned. He travels into the city and, after being told repeatedly that he looks like a preacher, decides to start the first Church without Christ. He buys a car to live in and to stand on to preach to those who will listen. After becoming fixated on a blind preacher (Harry Dean Stanton) and his daughter, Hazel moves into the house they are living in. Hazel also happens upon a young, dim-witted man (Dan Shor) who will go to any extreme just to find a friend. After a series of tragic events, Motes finally realizes what he really believes in.

Wise Blood is a movie overflowing with talent. Pretty much every character in the film is mesmerizing and it definitely carries the story along. Dourif as Hazel Motes is brilliant and creepy at the same time. Huston's direction is great and the rural setting fits the tone of the film perfectly. The film itself is thought provoking and the events at the end of the film are both disturbing and heart-breaking. This film is definitely original and I have yet to see anything quite like it.



  1. StarMummy: You have hit upon an oddity but a goody here. I didn't know there was another Brad Dourif fan out there, but glad to see there is (did you see his work in Deadwood?). This film is a perfect example of the kind of offbeat film Huston specialized in at the latter phase of his career. Have you seen Fat City? If Wise Blood put you in a mood for Huston strange, I would like to recommend it. Great Post! -- Mykal

  2. Mykal - Haven't seen Deadwood but I've heard good things about it. I've also heard many good things about Fat City (since I have also had a recent interest in Stacy Keach) and plan on checking that out soon.