Audrey Rose


‘…a fairly weedy entry in the demonology cycle…’

My brief investigation of post-Exorcist attempts to exploit different religious ideas for horror films alights on Robert Wise’s generally forgotten entry in the demonology cycle, Audrey Rose. While The Exorcist and The Omen went for traditional rules of engagements, Holocaust 2000 took inspiration from the Middle East, Exorcist 2 mines beliefs from Africa, and Audrey Rose attempts to go for Hindu beliefs and specifically re-incarnation. That might sound like fertile ground for domestic fantasy, but this adaptation of Frank de Felitta’s novel never quite takes off, despite scattered points of interest.

Wise, of course, graduated from the Val Lewton school of horror in the 40’s, before creating cinematic monuments like The Sound of Music; his return offers old-school rigour in terms of acting and location work, but a lack of luridness seems to work against things. A posho couple, the Templetons (Marsha Mason, John Beck) find that their daughter is sleeping badly. A mysterious stranger named Elliot Hoover (a bearded Anthony Hopkins, never more hirsute) turns up on their doorstep, seeking access; he’s lost his own child in a car-accident, and after some kind of spiritual awakening in India, Hoover believes that the Templeton child is his.

Spoiler alert; the girl dies at the end, putting a stop to the pre-Kramer vs Kramer tug of love, but also casting a pall of the story; nobody gets what they want here, particularly the viewer. Supernatural overtones don’t go much further than the girl seeming to burn the skin of her hands on a cold radiator, not much bang for your buck compared to the other films mentioned above. The saving grace here is Hopkins, who gives a dignified, thoughtful performance that holds the film together until a hurried ending; the Welsh star manages to make several long dialogue scenes sing, even if the pay-off is weak.

Audiences didn’t turn out for Audrey Rose, although the lack of sex, swearing, violence or even incident made it an 80’s tv staple. Audrey Rose is a fairly weedy entry in the demonology cycle, but is one of cinemas few attempts to get serious about re-incarnation, and in its own clumsy way, at least offers up a rare, positive point of view on widely held notions of life beyond death.


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  1. We were just talking about whether we had seen this one or not, sadly. I’m at no level close to 10 on the analytical process to get these reviews out.

    Is that Ben Affleck’s dad playing the main character? And, have you considered reviewing “Sin City”, specifically the extended cut or “The Crow”?

    All jokes aside, I appreciate what you have done here with this one.

  2. Sorry, if the child isn’t projectile vomiting a metric ton of green goop or trying to run the world, forget it, they’re not scary.

    And besides, everyone knows you can only come back as a cow or a dungbeetle if you were a person.

  3. You opened a rich vein with deep underground roots when you introduce the subject of death and returning. It was a peculiar movie, especially if you hadn’t read de Felitta’s book. Once again, you did an exceptional job describing its essence, and the questions it opens and attempts to explore. I had movies pre-selected for watching for the next few days, however, perhaps I’ll mine the ore you created via your review…There’s Ghost Story, Reincarnation of Peter Proud, I Married a Witch, Dead Again, The Mummy, Cloud Atlas, On a Clear Day, Deja Vu… oh my!

    • Offf…that’s a rich selection! I feel re-incarnation hasn’t been well served by movies, and would be interested to know what the book does better than the film for Audrey Rose. My copy for the film of Peter Proud is fairly battered, but I’m always keen on re-watching that one. There are more things in heaven and earth than are dreamt of in our philosophy….

  4. When did the hirsute one shave – as in your still? I remember enjoying this precisely because it wasn’t knocked sidewise by sex and swearing and seemed to have a more logical ideological standpoint. I always liked Marsha Mason and Hopkins is alwaays watchable.

    • He’s got a mega beard for the first twenty minutes, then shaves it off when he first meets Mason and Beck. I agree this this is quite old-school, as might be expected from Wise, but the medical detail about this child seems imported from The Exorcist, and leave a bad taste for me. Mason is underrated, I feel, but not best served by a rather shrill part….Hopkins saves this in the penalty shoot-out…

    • I love this kind of comment. This is up there with yesterday’s “Jet Li used my toilet.’ Now that’s a bombshell…

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