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See the dreadful 'Medusa' and you risk being turned to stone

The horror flick "Medusa" is no cinematic interpretation of Greek mythology. Even writer-director Jorge Ameer's exhaustive roll call of Greek gods and heroes seems less an exposition than a half-hearted attempt to show off his command of the subject matter.

Dr. Jack Peruci (Jeff Allen), a classical sciences professor who specializes in mythology, has been searching for an ancient glassless mirror supposedly possessed by Medusa — even as others who've undertaking the mission all vanished without a trace. He drives to some countryside cabin in hopes of acquiring the mirror from the primitively adorned and painted Kao (Ameer), who strings Jack along to prolong his stay. Like clockwork, Jack becomes delirious and experiences hallucinations.

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The movie blows lots of literal and figurative smoke to complement its flea-market-find prop mirror, achieving the effect of recorded theater. Indeed, its scare tactics mostly involve dry ice, sound effects and flipping the light switch on and off.

The pedestrian writing and acting prove even more cringe-worthy and dreadful than the special effects. Never have academics so exhibited the eloquence of freshmen stoners when discussing research topics or engaging in theoretical debates. The film seems to be made up as it goes along; there's not much logic to follow.

Medusa's storied gaze doesn't turn any characters to stone, but that might be preferable to suffering through this film.

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"Medusa"

MPAA rating: None

Running time: 1 hour, 45 minutes.

Playing: Laemmle's NoHo 7, North Hollywood.

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