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Medousa | DVD Review

Medousa George LazopoulosMondo Macabro continues to expand its catalogue of underground international genre offerings with the little known 1998 Greek title, Medousa, an indie horror re-telling from first time director George Lazopoulos. What starts off as a rather intriguing premise, however, quickly turns into a rather humdrum exercise excessively toiling around its obvious lack of budget. A particularly dank, crumbling aesthetic lends the title a fitting vibe, especially considering the label valiantly drudging it out of oblivion, but a lack of dramatic tension and a repetitive narrative design exhausts attention spans before the mid-way mark.

Young Percy grows up in a strange environment with his mother, who has guests over late at night while he harbors an unhealthy fascination with a magic show next door. An undefined tragedy seems to have visited their home from this period, but he grows into a young man (Thanos Amorginos) of Athens, running a biker bar and heading up a gang of miscellaneous miscreants. He’s introduced to a mysterious woman named Mrs. Meda by his friend and real estate agent Spiros (Eleni Felini), and they decide to break into her home once she’s moved in, discovering a bunch of eerie clothed statues of men in the house. Meanwhile, other strange statues have been appearing throughout the country, and eventually Percy, whose complete name is Perseus, learns he is destined to conquer the creature known as Medousa.

What’s most surprising about Medousa is to learn it was made in 1998 considering its score from Kostis Anagnostopoulos sounds like a late 80s genre medley. Director Lazopoulos, who hasn’t made any films since, attempts to convey an intimate re-telling of a famous fragment from Greek mythology and craft it into a homegrown urban legend. The problem is, despite developing a fitting ambience, perhaps owed to DP Vassilis Kapsouros (one of the only major crew members to have a notable filmography outside of this title), the narrative isn’t inventive enough to overlook the film’s dependence on low-fi special effects.

The repeated appearance of the bleached white statues clothed in whatever their victims were last wearing is initially amusing. But this was an effect used in Roger Corman’s 1959 cheapie A Bucket of Blood, where Dick Miller encases corpses in plaster for the sake of art. And a turning to sand effect similarly recalls Count Yorga, Vampire (1971). Like its villainous titular monster, masquerading under the pseudonym Mrs. Meds, the film is a creation unable to distance itself enough from its source material for viable reinvention. Instead, Lazpoulos simply achieves a similar effect as removing the vowels from Medusa’s name and delivers a dry, incomplete exercise merely suggesting the inability to eradicate past evils allowed to infect contemporary generations, where a culture obsessed with violence against women will eventually find the tables turned.

Film: ★★/☆☆☆☆☆
Disc: ★★★/☆☆☆☆☆

Los Angeles based Nicholas Bell is IONCINEMA.com's Chief Film Critic and covers film festivals such as Sundance, Berlin, Cannes and TIFF. He is part of the critic groups on Rotten Tomatoes, The Los Angeles Film Critics Association (LAFCA), FIPRESCI, the Online Film Critics Society (OFCS) and GALECA. His top 3 for 2023: The Beast (Bonello) Poor Things (Lanthimos), Master Gardener (Schrader). He was a jury member at the 2019 Cleveland International Film Festival.

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