Wednesday, December 14, 2011


1978 was a great year for the horror film: Halloween, Dawn of the Dead, just to name a couple of the big hitters.

But the horror film from '78 I find myself returning to most often is Richard Attenborough's unhinged and certifiable Magic.

Magic was a big studio film directed by a very well regarded and established filmmaker who was better known for his acting gigs in movies like The Great Escape, Seance on a Wet Afternoon, The Flight of the Phoenix, among others.

Magic also starred Anthony Hopkins as ventriloquist Corky Withers who is controlled by his dummy Fats. Burgess Meredith plays Ben Greene, Corky's concerned manager, who tries to convince Corky to take some time away from Fats. Corky, however, needs to make a living and Fats is his money-maker. But, the truth is, Corky can't stop being Fats and Fats is actually Corky uncorked.

Fats does anything he can to keep Corky from making friends. He especially doesn't want Corky to fall in love, which he does anyway - to Peggy Ann Snow (Ann-Margret, you know, the infamous "Kitten with a Whip"). Peggy Ann is a threat to Fats but there's really not much she can do about Fats - er, Corky - anyway.

Attenborough and writer William Goldman (Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid) weave an intense, psychologically complex thriller that's unpredictable, perverse and creepy.

And the little ditty floating above Fats' head in the poster is marketing brilliance. It tells you everything and nothing:

I sit on his knee.

Presto chango,
and now he is me.

Hocus pocus,
We take her to bed.

Magic is fun;
We're dead.

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