John Ashbery on “The Seventh Victim”

We soon learn more about Jacqueline’s disappearance and the satanic cult she has become involved with in Greenwich Village, but these mysteries tend to get sidetracked by small discrepancies of plot and motivation, and by erratic strands of dialogue. Tom Conway, the real-life alcoholic who plays Dr. Judd, at one point irrelevantly remarks to a receptionist that he doesn’t treat alcoholics: “Dipsomania can be rather sordid.” We hear nothing further of dipsomania or the receptionist’s problem (her father drinks), but this odd exchange contributes to our sense throughout the film that people are saying anything that comes into their heads, and that the apparent mysteries of the plot are perhaps only a smokescreen for other, ill-defined ones. We gradually get the feeling that the ground under our feet is unstable.

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