Few would hail The Medusa Touch as Richard Burton’s best work. But this movie is still a fine example of this legendary actor’s charismatic talent.
The Medusa Touch Synopsis
Detective Brunel investigates the attempted murder of John Morlar, a misanthropic author who was bashed in the head at home. In the course of his investigations, he meets Zonfeld, the psychiatrist Morlar was seeing, and learns that Morlar’s life was plagued by inexplicable disasters since young. As Brunel delves deeper, it becomes increasingly apparent that Morlar possesses vast telekinetic abilities and that he was likely the cause for all the tragedies in his life. Brunel then discovers to his horror that Morlar has one more vengeance against mankind. Even in his catatonic state, Morlar is determined to punish the humans he so despises a final time.
I have a story to share! On a Tuesday night in 1988, I caught glimpses of The Medusa Touch on a free television channel. What I saw was truly intense and intriguing, but unfortunately my folks wanted to watch a whacky variety show on another channel. In the end, I never even found out what the movie was about or even what it was called.
Because of that, creepy images of a man swaddled in bandages, with “a gift for disaster,” stuck in my head for years. I even had a few nightmares about it. This lasted till the age of YouTube before I finally learned the movie was called The Medusa Touch, following which I immediately watched the whole thing. To my delight, it as unnerving and horrific as it was on that 1988 Tuesday night.
Yeah, I’m going all fan-boy here. I acknowledge too that, on closer examination, the movie is far from flawless. Still, it remains one of the most disturbing classic horror movies I’ve ever watched.
In short, Burton, neck deep in alcoholism, frequently overacts. Lee Remick also feels as if she very badly needs a shot herself. In spite of these, though, The Medusa Touch still works because it is so effortlessly enthralling. One can’t help but be fascinated by Burton’s angst-ridden rants, if only because they carry more than an ounce of truth. Actually, most of the time, the grim Morlar is spot on.
As for the story, the so-called origin behind the “monster,” it demands sympathy, and forces one to consider what exactly is responsible for social deviance. For those able to view this movie as an allegory, the similarity of the disasters to certain world-changing events would undoubtedly heighten realism too. Here’s a grim tale about what happens when a man’s disgust for his fellow beings reaches boiling point. The tragedies he wills into reality are literally boundless. Worse, the horrific truth could be that there is a little bit of Morlar in too many of us.
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