Retro Review: Poison for the Fairies (1984)

Kids will be kids, especially when playing amongst their peers.  And lets face it, a healthy child’s imagination knows no limits.  Say one child, a somewhat bossy one, invites her classmate to a weekend getaway at her family’s country house where they can play make-believe for hours on end.  Now let’s say their game of make-believe consists of one of them convincing the other that she is a Witch.  Well, as the old saying goes, “It’s all fun and games, until something horrific happens and then it no longer becomes fun and games.”  Okay, so that’s not how the old saying goes.  No matter, I think you get my point.

There are many reasons as to why any fan of horror and/or fantasy movies, especially those baring likeness to Guillermo Del Toro‘s child protagonist adventures (The Devil’s Backbone, Pan’s Labyrinth), should seek out this Carlos Enrique Taboada gem.  Here are just three:

1. Without having done the actual math, I would wager my entire DVD collection (over 1,300 of those babies!) that at least 95% of this movie, if not more, is told through a 10-year-old’s perspective, with adult faces hardly ever being seen.  Is this a gimmick?  perhaps.  But the fact remains that choosing this daring stylistic choice of filming – where the entire movie rests on the acting performances of children – more than paid off for Mr. Taboada, as he was rewarded with the Best Director award in what is Mexico’s equivalent of The Academy Awards.

2. Fans of Dario Argento‘s earlier films will be especially pleased during the first half hour to see some familiar visual esthetics displayed in a short gory Witch scene.  The scene resembles the best of what all of the Italian horror sub-genre, known as Giallo, had to offer.  Whether this was an intentional homage, or not, matters not.  The fact is it’s yet another stylistic choice that struck a chord with this horror fanboy.

3. I know that the adjective, “Hitchcockian”, gets thrown around time and time again.  Heck, I’ve been guilty of overusing it myself.  But, in this instance, I truly believe, with all my cinephile heart, that it is the most appropriate adjective I can think of to best describe the overall tone of this film.  The ability of a director to keep his or her audience on edge throughout the duration of en entire film, without actually showing any horrific and/or violent acts, is no easy feat.  Obviously, this was something Hitchcock was a master at.   With that being said, I would say Poison for the Fairies (minus the one short gore-filled scene mentioned in reason #2) is a very Hitchcockian film.


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