Jacques Tati’s Playtime (1967) is a rare cinematic experience. Whenever I watch it, and no matter how many times I watch it, I get the feeling I’m witnessing something that’s been captured in another universe. Never has Hollywood science fiction ever mustered that kind of fantasy in me. But Pat Boyette’s Dungeon of Harrow (1962) has. The only difference between Playtime and Dungeon of Harrow is that Playtime is one of the greatest achievements in cinema history, whereas Dungeon of Harrow is one of the greatest achievements in human ineptitude. Yet I find myself entranced by Dungeon of Harrow, completely in awe of its otherworldly weirdness as I wonder what planet it was filmed on. It’s an utterly hypnotic affair, and only was my trance broken for particularly hysterical moments, like this scene featuring an impressively cowardly scream from the film’s hero.
PS: Dungeon of Harrow is available from the great Vinegar Syndrome in a double-feature with Death By Invitation, and, like everything they put out, it comes highly recommended from me.