VHS Review: Anguish

The eyes of the city are mine! It’s not often we see a horror film within a horror film within a horror film. Or is it? I love this idea. Anguish is an overlooked gem and clearly ahead of it’s time. It’s a stylish and bizarre Spanish horror film full of suspense, mystery, and gore. You can compare it to Demons but to me that’s an entirely different film where one is dealing with the supernatural and the other is dealing with psychosis and hypnosis. The film opens up with a warning, you can read the warning below. It makes me wonder if any viewers lost their sense of balance and perception. This film is so well done, I wish I could have seen it in theaters. It adds to the effect. Overall, we have rare special effects, incredible acting, a frightening score, hypnotic scenes that were never attempted by previous directors in the genre and the photography is so amazing, these are techniques I’ve never seen before. Only one camera was used and the scenes were shot twice from two different angles. My eyes tried to follow the hypnosis ball back and forth but hypnosis has never really worked on me.

A momma’s boy is failing miserably as an optometrist’s assistant with nothing to show but disappointment and apathy. He performs a series of grisly murders on behalf of his mother against those he feel have wronged him. At first I’m thinking, “This is getting ridiculous. If it doesn’t get any better I am watching something else.” Luckily, the plot changes. We see individuals watching these ghastly events on screen. The title of the film they are viewing is “The Mommy.” In The Mommy, we also see individuals watching a horror film.I didn’t see the twist ending coming. What an original idea. The main audience the film focuses has a killer surprise waiting for them but I will not spoil it for you!

I love how we get to see the reactions of the characters in the audience. When the man in “The Mommy” on the screen is sitting behind people in a theater and killing them one by one, everyone watching “The Mommy” starts looking behind their sits due to paranoia. They question whether they’re still outside of the screen.

The hypnosis scenes really get to them. Some begin to feel sleepy and one of the main characters actually starts to cry. Honestly, I thought she was a little pussy but if you’re given all this hypnosis, gore, and Zelda Rubenstein’s voice repeating over and over with subliminal messages, there’s no telling. It’s all very unsettling and intense.

Zelda Rubenstein is “The Mother” and she can can telepathically connect with her son and even hear the thoughts of others through a gigantic sea shell. You may remember Zelda screaming, “Head toward the light” in Poltergeist and she even made a short appearance in Sixteen Candles. Rest in piece Zelda. Michael Lerner was convincing as a psychopathic momma’s boy who will do whatever his mother and her sea shell tells him to do. Lerner has had a pretty successful career as an actor and I cannot tell you how many films I remember seeing him in like; Maniac Cop II, The Omen IV, Godzilla, Elf, The Beautician and the Beast, and For Richer or for Poorer.

I haven’t seen anymore of director Bigas Luna’s work. If anyone wants to recommend some of his films I will do my best to observe. For fans of eye ball horror, you came to the right place! Don’t miss out on this overlooked horror masterpiece!