Meridian (Reviewed by Lisa Marie Bowman)

You know how there are certain films that you just know you shouldn’t like but yet, you do?  These are the films that you know you should reject but yet, right when you’re on the verge of condemning them, you suddenly realize that you’d rather watch them for a second or a third time.

For me, Meridian is one of those films.

Meridian presents a twisted take on the Beauty and the Beast fairy tale.  Catherine (Sherilyn Fenn) and Gina (played by an actress who is credited simply as being “Charlie”) are recent art school graduates who have moved to Italy.  Gina has come to Italy to work in art restoration while Catherine has inherited her father’s castle!  That right — Catherine owns her very own castle!

I wish I owned a castle in Italy.  In fact, the first person to buy me a castle in Italy (preferably one in Southern Italy) will get a special shout out from me on this site.  Get to it!

Anyway, Catherine is pretty happy to be living in her very own castle.  Not only does she have a lot of servants but one of them happens to be her childhood nanny (Hilary Mason) who, for reasons that don’t become clear until late in the film, is still very protective of Catherine.  Catherine was a little apprehensive about moving into the castle because, when she was little, she used to see the ghost of a dead girl wandering about.  However, with her nanny there to protect her and Gina visiting for the weekend, what is there to worry about?

However, one morning, Catherine and Gina discover that a traveling circus has been set up near the castle.  Catherine finds herself intrigued by the leader of the circus, the mysterious Lawrence (Malcolm Jamieson).  She invites Lawrence and all the performers to have dinner at the castle.  With the help of magic, wine, and drugs, the dinner turns into an orgy with a nearly unconscious Catherine being taken by Lawrence’s twin brother, Oliver (Jamieson again).  While atop of Catherine, Oliver reverts to his true form, as seen above…

Naturally, it all has to do with family curses and ghosts and all the rest.  The morning after, Catherine wakes up with little memory of what happened.  The performers are gone and Gina soon leaves the castle.  Left with only her servants, Catherine starts to see the ghost of that dead girl again.  And, of course, both Oliver and Lawrence show up once again.  At no point does the plot make any sense but, then again, life is usually kinda messy so why should movies be any different?

So, look — there’s a lot of negative things that I could say about Meridian.  Catherine is not a strong heroine, the film’s overly complicated plot is full of holes, and some of the acting is inconsistent.  But yet, oddly enough, those flaws ultimately work to Meridian‘s advantage.  It really is one of the most dream-like films that I’ve ever seen and often times it truly does come across like not only a fantasy but a fantasy that you might not want the world to know about.  Working with what was undoubtedly a small budget, Charles Band tells his story with a lot of atmosphere and haunting imagery.  Taking place in a beautiful country and featuring a beautiful cast, Meridian is a lot better than one might otherwise expect.

Meridian was first released in 1990.  The version I saw was included as part The Midnight Horror DVD Collection, along with the original Prom Night and 6 other films, none of which were as good as either Meridian or Prom Night.

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