When the Dead Speak – The Oracle (1985)

A young woman and her husband have just moved into a new apartment and she receives a gift of a stone hand that can communicate with the dead. Talking with those that have passed beyond the veil is not exactly a new premise for a film but The Oracle tries to do something a little different with it, creating a compelling if not slightly goofy experience.

The hand in question soon begins to work its magic for the woman named Jennifer as she begins to uncover the fate of a murdered man, the same one that is currently talking to her through the trinket. Most in the movie think her daft, especially her husband and there are moments where she comes close to and then actually is committed. As it is, the wife of the murdered man tries to kill Jennifer, through her partner as played by Pam La Testa, a brute of a woman who loves to murder. There is a bit of blood throughout because of this, the most graphic of which is the murder of a prostitute early on in the film and it helps to set this film aside as belonging to the horror genre and not simply a crime drama. Eventually, Jennifer comes out the right side of it and those in the wrong – do not.

There is a bit of silliness present throughout that makes one wonder if those who made this film did not read the script beforehand and yet, be that as it may, it is never all that boring and there is enough suspense to keep it going from the first act to the last. The various murders that take place are at least a bit of fun, looking like it might be demons or what have one with the special effects being fairly decent for what little is needed. Most of the film though rests on the shoulders of Caroline Capers Powers who plays Jennifer and most surprisingly, this would be the only movie she would ever star in. That being said, she does a good job of it, playing the loving wife, the investigator and the damsel in distress quite well. There are parts where the picture does tend to drag just a little bit but Powers manages to make it all tolerable, if not better than it might have been otherwise. The final act is where she really gets to stretch her wings as things come to a head, the scenes between her and La Testa being both tense and frightening.

Such as it is, The Oracle was a mixed bag of a film with some bright moments, namely a beautiful lead one was able to empathize with in Powers and a strong villain in La Testa who really needed a little more screen time and perhaps some more victims to up the horror quotient. When all was said and done, whatever faults it might have had were outweighed by its trying to give the audience something other than the norm.

3 out of 5

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