GORE IN THE STORE
THE WIND **
Directed by Nico Mastorakis.
Starring Meg Foster, Wings Hauser, David McCallum, Robert Morley, Steve Railsback.
Horror/Thriller, USA, 92 mins, cert 15.
Released in the UK on Blu-ray by Arrow Video on Monday 13th April 2020.
Otherwise known as EDGE OF TERROR in certain territories, THE WIND is a 1986 thriller directed by Greek filmmaker Nico Mastorakis, the man responsible for the notorious video nasty ISLAND OF DEATH. Not that you would know it from watching this movie as, apart from the Greek island setting, there is very little the two movies have in common; ISLAND OF DEATH is a depraved and gritty piece of trash (in the best possible sense) with very little point other than shock whereas THE WIND sees the director turning to Alfred Hitchcock for inspiration and seeking to add a little suspense into his storytelling.
However, it is an idea that never really comes to fruition despite all of the ingredients being there. The story is a very simple one of a writer called Sian Anderson (Meg Foster – THEY LIVE) who travels to the isolated Greek town of Monemvassia where she is renting a house from pompous old timer Elias Appleby (Robert Morley – THEATRE OF BLOOD). However, at night the town is blasted by heavy winds coming in from the ocean and during one of these storms Sian witnesses Elias’s handyman Phil (Wings Hauser – THE INSIDER) burying his employer’s body. Trouble is, Phil spots her spying on him and then it’s a game of cat and mouse as the deranged handyman tries to get inside the terrified writer’s house to eliminate any witnesses to his crime.
A simple plot, a superb location and a solid cast really ought to make THE WIND a lot more exciting and plausible than it actually is. Nico Mastorakis has obviously watched REAR WINDOW a few times and added in the extra plot point of the strong winds that hit the town at night, thus keeping Sian Anderson in one place as her stalker moves in. However, there are far too many questions that get raised during the film that by the time the end comes around you’ve given up asking why certain things happen and are just happy that it’ll soon be over and you can move on.
For instance, why would you bury a body right in front of your house where all your neighbours can see you, despite it being at night? Not only that but how come Phil, a solidly built man with – you would think, given his job – a selection of tools at his disposal, cannot break into a house where the only defence is a bit of glass because the shutters keep flying open? And just how big is the house where Sian is staying? Once she goes downstairs it is like a labyrinth of doors, flaps and corridors that just seem to keep appearing as they become convenient to the plot. Good job Elias telegraphed what was in his locked personal wardrobes before he went missing...
Yes, unfortunately THE WIND becomes a nonsensical mess of contrivances by the time it gets to where it needs to be, and the less said about that ending the better (even though that is also telegraphed early on). The saving graces are the performances by Meg Foster, whose striking eyes never fail to mesmerise, and Robert Morley, who made a career of playing pompous but loveable fools and does exactly that here. Wings Hauser is clearly trying his best to play psychopath but Phil is such a thinly written caricature with very little about him that there isn’t much for the actor to work with. And as for Steve Railsback (HELTER SKELTER), who pops up as Kesner, a navy seaman living in the area, and David McCallum (THE MAN FROM U.N.C.L.E.) as Sian’s publisher/lover John, you have to wonder if they were written in just because the filmmakers managed to secure their services. Railsback’s role is fairly thankless as his character comes to Sian’s aid but fails to be any help whatsoever but McCallum appears in a couple of scenes as Sian phones him for help and he’s that concerned that at one point he nearly gets out of his Los Angeles swimming pool to phone the authorities.
But if he had done that then Sian wouldn’t have been so isolated and the film would make even less sense than it does already. On the positive side, apart from Foster and Morley, the location is stunning and Nico Mastorakis makes the most of the helicopter he has hired to get those wonderful swooping establishing shots, and the town itself is a beautiful vista set up in the hills. It is just a shame that we are never really given a proper sense of the layout or any background on who Phil is or why he feels the need to kill his boss, meaning that any suspense that starts to build quickly vanishes as there is no reason to care or think about things any more than the filmmakers have (or haven’t, as the case may be).
THE WIND isn’t the biggest offender when it comes to Hitchcock worship, mainly thanks to the Greek flavour that at least makes it stand out a bit, but everything else about it is fairly unremarkable thanks to the unrealised potential of the location and the underwhelming plot point of inclement weather. Coming backed with a brand new interview with director Nico Mastorakis, the complete soundtrack and a selection of trailers for his movies the package is a fairly comprehensive one if you are a Mastorakis fan/collector but for anyone else THE WIND is, at best, a rental for slasher fans who haven't seen it before.