Thursday, October 21, 2010

'Magic' is Fun!

The year:1978.

The place: The Dixie Drive-in.

Ah, yes, good times. Mom loaded up the kids and took us to a double feature: The Phantom of the Paradise and Magic. Never mind that on the way to the theater a small pick-up swerved around us completely out of control , slamming into a telephone pole and vaporizing its unfortunate occupant before our eyes. Shaken and in shock we crept our way through the darkened traffic lights to the drive-in, glass from the wreck still glittering the hood of our car. We were not in too much shock to know Phantom kind of sucked and that Magic was pretty damn good.

Not so much a horror story as a psychological murder/romance, concerning Corky, a successful ventriloquist/magician/comedian, (played brilliantly by a young Anthony Hopkins), and his dissolution into madness as his Dummy alter-ego, Fats, starts calling the shots for the otherwise meek and sensitive entertainer.

Of course there is horror involved. Somehow things can never go well when you put a dummy in charge, (as all voters know) and people who stand in the way of Corky's re-connecting with his childhood dream girl (Ann Margaret) start finding themselves the victims of Dummicide.

The movie is based on a novel by William Goldman, and there was always some speculation on the side that Fats may not just be a fragment of Corky's psyche, but a malevolent force that sought to possess him, an idea that is fed primarily by a scene in the movie that shows Corky raging at the seated Dummy, whose eyes move around without Corky there to manipulate them!

I heard in the director's commentary on the DVD that it was an error that was left in just to bedevil viewers. Nice!

I have watched Magic several times over the years, and have a certain fondness for it. It has one of the most memorable previews ever, as shown above. "Magic is FUN...We're dead..."

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