The Film: 1.5/5
The sole film credit of writer-director George Lazopoulos, Medousa takes one of the most famous of all Greek myths and transplants it in the modern day (1998 to be exact, so not too modern). When he was a child, Perseus (Thanos Amorginos) had an odd relationship with his mysterious and aloof mother (Eleni Fillini). Then one day she vanished without a trace or even a goodbye, leaving the lad to grow up on the streets. He matured to become a member of a gang of thieves that targets the mansions of the wealthy. Their latest job takes them to a place very familiar to Perseus: the house where he spent part of his childhood and the last place where he saw his mother before she apparently disappeared forever. Meanwhile there is a police investigation underway to find out who is turning some of the city’s criminal citizens into statues. Could the responsible party be Perseus’ dear ol’ mum, who has returned home from her long, unexplained absence looking exactly the same as she did when her son was but a boy?
Not wanting to spend money crapping out another gory shock show, Lazopoulos instead preferred to build around his modern interpretation of the Medusa myth a cerebral horror film that offered only the most impenetrable of answers to the few questions it chose to address. Somewhere along the way it all got screwed up. Medousa is a painfully dull film that squanders its vast wealth of narrative and visual potential in the pretentious pursuit of being different than other myth-based fright flicks. It is boring to look at too, and considering that Greece possesses no shortage of gorgeous vistas and ancient structures, that is one hell of an amateur filmmaking mistake.
Lazopoulos is constantly wasting his time undermining his own film’s narrative momentum by having every event crucial to the story take place off-camera and focusing on subplots that go nowhere and characters who are never properly introduced or halfway developed into protagonists who are worthy of our sympathy or attention. I’m not asking to have the entire plot and every character’s motivations spelled out for me in bright red crayon, but it’s like Medousa’s writer and director never had complete interest in his own story. Thus we are left with a story that goes nowhere until the third act, suspense that never materializes, and the kind of atmosphere you could also get with an impromptu trip to the proctologist.
Fillini is beautiful and alluring enough to serve as an ideal 20th century Medusa and her seductive performance is by far the best thing the film has going for it. Amorginos makes for a capable hero. The rest of the cast do just fine in their underwritten roles, but their work is terribly weakened by the he drab cinematography by Vassilis Kapsouros and toneless music score composed by Kostis Anagnostopoulos. Visual effects provided by Harold Herbert are limited to some crumbling statues, which look good on film but don’t exactly deliver their intended impact.
There is no aspect ratio info provided on the DVD packaging, but Medousa was originally filmed in 1.85:1 widescreen and the framing for Mondo Macabro’s transfer appears to be accurate. As for the actual quality of the picture, it’s decent but hardly anything to write home about. Colors are appropriate and black levels look solid, but the source print is riddled with gobs of grain at times that cannot be easily overlooked. The Greek Dolby Digital 2.0 audio track does its job adequately with clear dialogue and a lack of overlap and distortion. English subtitles have also been included.
The misleadingly-titled “Looks Can Kill: The Making of Medusa” (35 minutes) promises a more thorough documentary about the film, but it is in fact a retrospective interview with writer-director Lazopoulos. In all fairness it’s a good interview that covers the man’s brief career in film and the story behind the creation of what would become Medousa. Lead actor Amorginos talks about his involvement in the film and his acting and musical ambitions in “Meeting George” (10 minutes). The original trailer (1 minute) and a promotional reel for other titles available from Mondo Macabro (11 minutes) closes things out.
Despite its ambition to be something radically different, and perhaps even better, than its world horror cinema peers, Medousa ends up a ploddingly-paced exercise in filmmaking amateurism that can never make up its mind if it wants to be a striking arthouse item or a mindless exploitation flick. Kudos to Mondo Macabro for giving this nap inducer a domestic DVD release with a decent transfer and bonus features when their resources would be better used on other projects.