While being ill for a week I managed to catch up on some classic literature. I like horror and take quite an interest in it, across different media. It was inevitable, then, that Audrey Rose would eventually show up on my radar.
The novel was published in 1975. It is by Frank De Felitta and what you need to know about Frank, who sadly died in 2016, is that he was a writer, screenwriter, director and producer. Audrey Rose sold 2.5m copies and there was a film adaptation within two years, in 1977, with Frank as screenwriter and producer. It stars a young Anthony Hopkins as the disturbed Mr Hoover.
The other work that Frank De Felitta is best known for is The Entity, which immediately followed Audrey Rose, in the form of a book in 1978 and film adaptation with screenplay by Frank in 1982. What a productive guy.
I’ve just read the novel Audrey Rose. It’s about this affluent young married couple and their ten-year-old daughter. The parents, Janice and Bill Templeton, are set up as having this perfect life until their daughter Ivy starts re-living a grisly car accident that she experienced in a previous life. These episodes are triggered by the proximity of mysterious Mr Hoover who claims to be the father of a dead child, Audrey, who is inhabiting Ivy’s body.
The best bits, in my view, are the descriptions of the Templetons’ perfect marriage and life. Bill works in a swank advertising agency. Janice wears loud plaid trouser suits because she is a cool chick and it is 1975.
They both drink whisky and martinis at the slightest provocation, all day, including and especially when at work or when at home in the mornings, doing domestic chores or perhaps caring for a sick child. They are regularly drunk and then hung over. It’s normal for Bill to arrive home from work in such a drunken condition that he has to go to bed for an hour before he can carry on drinking with his friends into the evening.
They are a very cultured couple, you can tell this because they listen to opera. They are friends with this other couple who live in the same apartment building. The men compete over who has the best opera record collection, even though they are all so drunk that you wonder how much of it they are taking in. They play bridge together in the evenings and the book states quite clearly that every time they do this, the evening ends with this other couple losing their tempers, which is hilarious. Stop inviting them over, then. And maybe serve less alcohol.
Even though Janice is the slightly more sober one out of her and Bill, she is really submissive towards him. She really looks up to him. She’ll be walking along the street and the thoughts in her head concern how he has wisely and benevolently guided her towards something, or shown her how to do something, even though he is a macho knucklehead who couldn’t even stay sober for his daughter’s court case.
Oh yeah, so there’s a court case. This occupies the entire second half of the book and involves the Templetons trying make Mr Hoover go away, while Mr Hoover attempts to prove that Ivy really is the reincarnation of his daughter Audrey. The judge decides to have Ivy subjected to some completely unethical hypnotic experiments and she dies while having a fit, thus proving Mr Hoover right all along.
That’s it, really. I watched about half the film while writing this book review and I mainly want to say that in the film version there is less drinking and the fashions are less flamboyant, also there isn’t as much sex, so you should read the book instead. That said, it translates well to the big screen, as it was destined to do, and makes a competent psychological thriller with lots of suspense and not too much gore.