Johnnie has been a bad boy... When his skills as an optometrist's assistant are questioned by his patients, mommy dearest commands him to kill! Removing his scalpel, he calmly sneaks behind his victims and plucks out their eyeballs... The audience reels back in terror! THE MOMMY is playing on screen as a pair of teen girls watch from the darkened theater. The movie becomes too intense for young Patty, who grows increasingly paranoid of the other members of the audience and exists the theater to wait in the lobby. She is followed into the bathroom, where she is certain that the killer is waiting to attack her. Running back into the theater, she convinces Linda to check out the bathroom for her, but unfortunately for Linda, Patty's fears have come to life!
Spanish director Bigas Luna's thrilling tale of shock and suspense comes as a huge surprise! The "film-within-a-film" concept had previously been deployed in DEMONS two years earlier, but ANGUISH is clearly the most stylistically-advanced film of its kind. The overlays between the reel world and the real world are organically intertwined and masterfully composed. In DEMONS, the film being projected in the background is filler, weakly thrown together as an excuse to get the demons in the theater. Here, Luna spends just as much time developing THE MOMMY for his on-screen audience as he does on ANGUISH for the viewer at home. During the intense climax of both films, the events in the theater are mirrored on screen in a clever and highly-effective fashion. The entertaining performances that Michael Lerner and Zelda Rubinstein lend to THE MOMMY are playfully over-the-top and instilled with a dark sense of humor.
ANGUISH succeeds most in recreating the moviegoing experience, particularly through Patty's fear and paranoia after her friend has guilted her into seeing a Horror movie. Her reactions are heartfelt and believable, as are those of each of the other patrons who jump, laugh, and reel in disgust at the events on screen. Anyone that may be squeamish when it comes to their eyes best look away during the gore scenes, as eyeballs are ripped from their sockets, stabbed, and sliced all throughout the film. The gore never becomes the centerpiece, however, as Luna strictly uses it to accentuate the horror on top of his growing tension and suspense. ANGUISH is 80's Horror at its best, an undermentioned gem that deserves rediscovery!
If you liked ANGUISH, check out:
DEMONS, MIDNIGHT MOVIE, THE LAST HORROR MOVIE.