Apprentice to Murder (1988 film)
Apprentice to Murder, AKA "Long Lost Friend", "The Teacher", "Murder Under Moonlight" (Mord under Månen)
"They thought it was the Devil. The Police said it was Murder. Was it magic, murder, or madness?" A teenager is torn between his lover and a doctor of "powwow medicine" in 1920s Pennsylvania.
- Release Date: 1988
- Country/Language: Canada/USA/Norway, English
- Genres/Technical: Drama, Thriller, Mystery, Horror
- Setting: Folk Mythos, Pennsylvania, 1920s
- Runtime: 1 hr 37 min
- Starring: Donald Sutherland, Chad Lowe, Mia Sara
- Director: Ralph L. Thomas
- Writer: Wesley Moore, Allan Scott
- Producer/Production Co: Hot International, LLF Productions, New World Pictures
- View Trailer: (link)
- Wikipedia: (link)
- IMDB Page: (link)
- Rated: PG-13 (mild Violence, Adult Content, Profanity)
In an earlier decade this would have simply been rated PG or even G - there are some mild, almost TV-friendly "sex scenes" without nudity, no real scares anywhere (except for a blink-and-you-miss-it exorcism over halfway through), and some mostly off-screen violence. Many horror fans would likely find this a bit "talky", actually, compared to a straight horror movie....
A rough measure of how "Lovecraftian" the work is:
- S____ (One Tentacle: Debateably Lovecraftian; has almost no direct connection to Lovecraft's work)
As a "true story", this is not especially Lovecraftian, beyond perhaps the period 1920s setting, though there are all the ingredients here for a Pennsylvania Dutch-inspired "Folk Mythos" scenario: the "Pow-Wow" tomes and wizards, hex-signs, weird and folksy spells, and of course the eccentric and almost Lovecraftian take on demons that reads a bit like an alternate-universe proto-Cthulhu Mythos transferred from Massachusetts to the Pennsylvania hill country; it's missing only the cosmic vision of an H.P. Lovecraft....
Note: This rating is not intended as a measure of quality, merely of how closely related to Lovecraftian "Weird" fiction the work is.
- Review by Evan Popplestone at Cinema's Fringes (3 Stars) (link) - "This interesting, near-forgotten film may not be perfect... Worth a look if you want something vaguely horror-esque but different from the usual."
- Review by Charles Tatum at the Tatum Archive Blog (4/5 Stars) (link) - "...directs with real suspense, never caving in to pressure to trot out gore for gore's sake, or sex for exploitation's sake."
- Nathaniel Thompson at Mondo Digital (link) - "... it's a curious and haunting little film worth giving a shot as long as your genre expectations are in check."
- 'Dr Lenera' at Horror Cult Films (link) - (7/10 Stars) ...it’s quite an absorbing watch that doesn’t put a serious foot wrong, even if it never quite catches fire the way it probably should. ...worth watching even if it’s not entirely satisfying."
- Chris Ward at Flickering Myth (link) - "...Apprentice to Murder commits the worst crime that a movie can commit and that is to be quite boring; not terrible, certainly watchable but hardly exciting enough to hold your attention..."
Spoiler Section (Highlight to Read)
Based on a "true story" about a young apprentice to a Pennsylvania "Pow-Wow Man" - part natural healer, part faith-healer, part preacher - who, in the course of falling in love with the Pow-wow Man's daughter and fighting evil curses on the local people, finds himself entangled in a conflict with a man he suspects to be a sorcerer, leading to a murder.
Comments, Trivia, Dedication
Associated Mythos Elements
- film: compare/contrast to Picnic at Hanging Rock (1975 film)
- setting: Folk Mythos
- tome: Pow-Wows; or, Long Lost Friend
- creature: Demon
- character: Pow-Wow Man