Paul L. Smith
Based on the
Harry Alan Towers' third redo of the Christie classic is his worst yet. This time he isolates an uninteresting cast in an African safari camp in the 1930s, and boringly plods through this once-intriguing, now-weary plot. Stop Towers before he remakes again!
---LEONARD MALTIN'S MOVIE & VIDEO GUIDE
HERBERT LOM LOSES HIS HEAD: Harvey F. Chartrand's interview with the superb character actor at the fine Horror-Wood webzine site.
INTERNET MOVIE DATABASE: Cast and crew information is available at this popular film database.
The stories penned by Agatha Christie -- the popular mystery authoress of Ten Little Indians -- have a glorious tradition of being harmless, edge of your seat fun. Unfortunately, on-screen they have instead often been turned into "hide-behind-your-seat-so-you-don't-have-to-watch" bores. Producer Harry Alan Towers brings us yet another adaptation of Ten Little Indians (his previous 1966 and 1974 versions were far superior). The latest incarnation may have its story right, but, unfortunately, nothing else is.
The film concerns ten people who become stranded in the jungle after winning an African Safari and soon find there is a killer among them. Or, something like that. While Alan Birkinshaw's direction is uninspired and Arthur Lavis' cinematography is boring, the film's most devastating shortcoming is its lack of heart. A fine ensemble is wasted on characters that are so hopelessly stupid and annoying that we really don't care what happens to them. They are neither nice nor mean. At least if we had hated them, we would have something to look forward to, but, alas, their deaths come and go and not only do we not care about them, but we don't care who's doing away with them either. Never a good thing in a murder mystery.
Screen veterans Herbert Lom (a holdover from Towers' 1974 version) and Donald Pleasence appear to be doing their best to elevate the material, but the odds were stacked against them. It frustrates me that the late Pleasence, one of the best character actors of all time, wasted so much of his last days on trash like this.
I enjoy movies that are so bad they're good. Movies that are so cheesy you can't help but laugh. Ten Little Indians isn't one of them. It's just bad! When the characters fell victim to the madman, I couldn't help but feel jealous. At least their pain was over. Mine would continue on until the credits rolled.
Review © 2001 Kevin
Lane. All Rights Reserved.
suspecting something is wrong
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