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Customer reviews

4.1 out of 5 stars
4.1 out of 5 stars

on 28 December 2010
In her screen debut, the charming Kim Hunter (A Matter of Life and Death, Planet of the Apes) plays a vulnerable schoolgirl who is forced to journey to New York City to find her missing older sister (Jean Brooks), an unstable, suicide-obsessed loner who, it transpires, has fallen in with a group of Satanists...
Easily one of the most downbeat and depressing thrillers to come out of Hollywood's Golden Age, The Seventh Victim was a typically doom-laden effort from producer Val Lewton, whose run of horror movies made at RKO in the early 1940s also included the better known Cat People, I Walked with a Zombie, and The Leopard Man. However, even in the company of these dour mood pieces, The Seventh Victim stands out as particularly dark. The directorial debut of former editor Mark Robson, and the result of some painstaking research into a real-life coven by screenwriter DeWitt Bodeen, the movie was one of Lewton's few flops, solely due to the central theme; in the wartime US, nobody wanted to see such a humourless film based around unpleasant subject matter like mental illness and Devil-worship. When watched today, the film is still quite hard going; without the explicitly supernatural elements that marked his earlier hits, the `shapes and shadows' Lewton technique becomes even more terrifying, with one or two set-pieces in particular that are genuine shockers, whilst the fatalistic ending is guaranteed to leave viewers reeling.
There are some problems with the film, mainly related to its choppy pace; apparently slashed from around 90 minutes to just 71 minutes before it was released, the removal of so much footage was due the studio's desire to make it fit the usual B-movie format, but this left several characters' motivations unclear, and audiences somewhat confused. However, even in its surviving form, the film is worth seeing; many critics call it Lewton's masterpiece.
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on 26 September 2012
Trimmed down to B picture length from a longer cut, something which shows most clearly in a rather hurried ending, this is never the less a very effective offering from Val Lewton's run of superior chillers from the 1940s. The plot follows young Kim Hunter (who later starred in Powel and Pressburgers masterpiece A Matter of Life and Death) as she travels to New York to search for her missing sister played by a vampish Jean Brooks sporting a striking jet black Betty Page hairstyle. The search is framed in a nightmarish, chiaroscuro world of shadows with an unsettling paranoia undercutting the action as Hunter's character is placed in a world of menace and foreboding omens; haunting scenes such of the discovery of a room whose main decoration is a noose and a detectives death in a gloomy corridor are extremely effective and in many ways prefigures Hitchcocks "Psycho", even down to a disturbing shower scene. With hints of lesbianism and themes of satanism, suicide and the inevitability of death, its a film almost Bergmanesque in its tone of fatalism.
The performances are all pretty low key, something that fits in with the films understated feel, with Tom Conway appearing as apparently shady psychiatrist Dr Judd, though like much in the film all is not as it appears. Conway, George Saunders real life brother, always brings something unique to his performances and it's a shame he didn't do more. His performance in this, the Cat people and as The Falcon in the RKO film series are always interesting to watch and full of nice, underplayed character work.
Not one for people expecting fast paced, action packed horror, but for fans of Lewton and slowly constructed psychological menace something of a gem that occupys a hinterland between horror and film noir, a shady no mans land that makes it fairly unique and is in my opinion one of Lewtons best works. Don't expect any extra's on the DVD but the transfer is fine enough. Best enjoyed on a winters evening with the lights out.
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TOP 1000 REVIEWERon 23 May 2012
The Seventh Victim is directed by Mark Robson and written by DeWitt Bodeen and Charles O'Neal. It stars Tom Conway, Jean Brooks, Isabel Jewell and Kim Hunter. Music is scored by Roy Webb and cinematography by Nicholas Musuraca.

When she is told her older sister Jacqueline has vanished, Mary Gibson is forced to leave her private school and travel to New York City to hopefully find her. Obtaining help from her sister's husband, Gregory, and the suspicious help of psychiatrist, Dr. Louis Judd, Mary finds that the deeper she goes the more dangerous the situation becomes, it appears that Jacqueline has got herself involved with something very sinister indeed.

He calleth all his children by their name.

Coming as it does from producer Val Lewton, one shouldn't be surprised that The Seventh Victim is a hauntingly poetic creeper of a movie, no shocks or out and out horror here, just a genuine sense of dread and a pervading sense of doom. When delving a bit further into the making of the picture it becomes apparent that an original cut of the piece was considerably longer, this explains a lot to me as the film, as good as it is in its 71 minute form, is not fully formed and at times not the easiest to fully understand. It would seem that although originally intended as a longer mainstream picture, a difference of opinion between Lewton and the studio (thought to be about the hiring of first time director Mark Robson) meant it was cut to a B movie standard.

The Palladists.

What remains, though, isn't at all bad, in fact it's unique. Robson's direction (obviously guided by Lewton) is perfectly sedate and in keeping with the mood of the piece, and between them they have conjured up some most unforgettable scenes and imagery. One particular shower scene lingers long after the credits roll, the perfect use of a silhouette probably had a certain Alfred Hitchcock taking notes, whilst the ending is quite simply a piece of bleak and unforgettable cinema. Musuraca is the key ingredient, though, the ace cinematographer is all about the shadows, blending noir with Gothic to create atmospheric paranoia. Satanism in Greenwich Village, suicide, psychological discord and urban dread, all potent little threads dangled into the slow burn pot. But ultimately it's the mood of the picture that gets you, unease and the murky mystery ensuring you are hooked throughout. 7.5/10
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VINE VOICEon 14 July 2013
"I runne to death, and death meets me as fast, and all my pleasures are like yesterday" ("Holy Sonnet" VII Jonne Donne.)

Mary Gibson (Kim Hunter) is called to the office of here boarding school. There she is confronted with the fact that her sister is missing; the person who tells this is Mrs. Lowood (Ottola Nesmith) the person who runs the school. Now where have we heard the name Lowood before?

As you have already guessed Mary fearing something is afoot, is compelled to locate her sister Jacqueline (Jean Brooks). On her quest she meets various characters, all wanting to help her. We must guess whether they are good guys or have nefarious motives. One such character is Doctor Louis Judd (Tom Conway same name and similar character used in "Cat People").

Will Mary find her sister?
On the way will Mary find true love, at what cost?
Why the seventh victim, who were the other six?

Yes I know this is a Val Lewton production and if it is his best or worst, this film has his signature of being more psychological than supernatural. That is why this film is more than just a who-done-it.
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on 14 May 2016
Schoolgirl Kim Hunter (Mary) is called to the office of the Headmistress Ottola Nesmith and told that she can no longer stay on as a pupil as her sister Jean Brooks (Jacqueline) has stopped paying her fees. More than that, Brooks seems to have gone missing. So, Hunter goes off to find her. But Brooks isn’t so easy to locate.

This film leaves you with scenes stuck in your mind, so it’s good from that perspective. It is also well shot with an eerie atmosphere. Scenes that stand out include the sequence with Hunter and a detective exploring an office at night and the subsequent spooky train ride, a shower scene that will make you think of “Psycho” (1960) and pretty much every scene with Brooks. Fancy a drink? – no thanks but the pressure is on. And how about that ending? Wow, pretty bleak stuff. Especially coming after what had me cringing as we watched God and the Bible being used as a tool to counter Satan and his ways in an extremely simplistic way.

Amo, Amas, Amat, Amamus, Amatis, Amant – remember your Latin from school? The ‘ablative absolute’ and the ‘ut’ clause (use the subjunctive). Quamquam. This film also throws in some Latin and I’m glad to hear it. It takes the viewer back to a time sadly long gone as we hear schoolgirls reciting the verb ‘Amo’ – to love. The day will come when a generation will watch this film and not understand what language it is.

The cast are ok with Jean Brooks standing out. Her look suggests she is leader of the occult movement rather than a victim of it. And all of her scenes are quality – some genuinely scary, and all unworldly because of her appearance. That ending with the neighbour comes as a shock and leaves an eerie memory that will have you thinking about how we view life. It’s an interesting film…and sad.
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on 7 September 2015
This is definitely one of the darkest and most unsettling horror films ever made.
From a talented and versatile director, a horror like no others. It reminds me a lot of Lost Highway, in the almost invisible horror that hides behind faces, corners, dark spots of indoors settings and strange coincidence of the story.
Nothing too stressed, nothing too explicit: just a constant sense of evil and mystery that progressively fill up the air.
A truly fantastic film that I'd be happy to buy on blu ray.
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on 19 November 2014
I discovered this film through Cat People - Tom Conway is playing the same character. It's a thoroughly modern story very well told - missing persons, cults, devil worshipping (?). I feel that the film fizzled out a little towards the end - it seemed to be building up towards a big climax that never really came. That could be down to budget or restictions on what was permitted to be shown or done given the era the film was made in. Would not let that put you off watching this though - terrific film.
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on 5 March 2015
Quick service. Recommended
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on 1 April 2014
A groping, somewhat tedious film, with very little susbtance, that aims to chill and disturb. I can think of better ways of doing it, but then I'll not deny some will find this approach appealing where I do not.
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