A look at one of American filmmaker William Friedkin’s most interesting and undervalued films
As every serious horror fan who both lived through it and has studied the period from the distance of time knows, as the 1980s wound down and leaked into the 90s, the pulse of the genre was faint. Producers were less interested in edgier supernatural fare than they were in conventional dramatic (and often, in the wake of Fatal Attraction, erotic) thrillers, with most horror product tailored to suit a post-BATMAN need for bloated, FX-rich action. Even Coppolas much-hyped 1992 horror blockbuster Bram Stoker’s Dracula feels like a mutated Batman with fangs
But we digress.
The bottom line is that historically, youd be hard pressed to find a real-deal, bold work of adult dark fantasy during this time-frame. Except for William Friedkins 1990 effort The Guardian, that is; a film that was anything but successful during its domestic theatrical run and was unfairly dismissed by critics who deemed its absurdities as beneath its storied director. But, as we now know, even Friedkin slumming often offers a superior cinematic experience than most filmmakers most notable works do and, in retrospect, The Guardian is no exception to this rule.It’s a truly fascinating misfire that isn’t really a misfire at all. Rather it hits a target thats not even on the range. Its bizarre, beautiful, both lavish and cheap, controlled and reckless, erotic and ridiculous, character-driven and awash in tarty special FX.