Blu Review – Haunting Fear (Retromedia)
Director – Fred Olen Ray (Evil Spawn, Hollywood Chainsaw Hookers)
Starring – Brinke Stevens (The Slumber Party Massacre, Nightmare Sisters), Jan-Michael Vincent (Damnation Alley, Deliver Us from Evil), and John Henry Richardson (Beverly Hills Vamp, Slash Dance)
Release Date – 1990
Rating – 3/5
Blu Release – 3.5/5
The late 80s and early 90s was a time for independent production companies to prosper. Many found success with the video store boom with movies like Puppet Master, The Toxic Avenger, and so on. When some struck gold by adapting the work of Edgar Allan Poe other’s soon followed. In the early 80s Lucio Fulci adapted The Black Cat and soon followed by The House of Usher, Two Evil Eyes, Revenge in the House of Usher, The Haunting of Morella, a different adaptation of The Black Cat from director Luigi Cozzi, Masque of the Red Death, and many more.
In 1990 Fred Olen Ray cashed in on the craze and loosely adapted Poe’s Premature Burial and titled it Haunting Fear starring scream queen Brinke Stevens. A few weeks ago Ray’s Retromedia partnered with J.R. Bookwalter’s Makeflix to release the film on blu. I had to see this one so I jumped on it.
**Spoiler Alert** The film follows Victoria (Stevens) who has an irrational fear of being buried alive. She consults her doctor and is given medication to help her sleep but this only amplifies her fears. Her husband is secretly having an affair and has accrued some serious gambling debt. He hopes that her new medication gives her a heart attack and soon his wishes come to fruition when she appears to have died. However, she was prematurely buried and comes back for vengeance against her adulterous husband. **Spoiler Alert**
I had watched my fair share of Fred Olen Ray movies when I was growing up. My local video store had several of his films and that’s not counting the the DVDs I’ve snagged over the years or his movies that found their way onto cable. However, I never had the chance to check this one out. Hell, I didn’t know it even existed until I saw the post from Makeflix about the blu release. I’m glad I finally got to check it out because it was a fun one. Predictable, but still a very fun watch.
The acting in this one is great. I’ve reviewed a lot of films recently with Stevens in them and I have to say that this is probably my favorite performance of hers. In most of the films around this time in her life she was cast purely as a character that was meant to die and show skin. She does show some skin in this one but seeing her as a character that carries the film was a nice change of pace. She does an amazing job and brings out a wide range of emotion. The supporting cast is solid and they really do a fantastic in their roles but Stevens is the center of the film and for good reason.
The story for this one is loosely based on Poe’s story but I really enjoyed it. By 1990 there had already been other movies featuring a similar plot along with various television shows like Tales from the Crypt. Unoriginal but it still works very well for the film. I especially enjoyed the last 20 minutes of so when the movie goes from shitbag husband trying to find a way out of his wife’s life to trying to survive her. It’s a slow burner but I really enjoyed it.
Finally, the film has a few memorable moments but the death scenes are very underwhelming. When the film begins we see our protagonist visiting her father’s casket when he rises from it with dirt foaming in his mouth. This was a fantastic scenes that looks absolutely amazing. However, the two death scenes we get are extremely cheap and poorly done. The foam head in one of the gags is beyond laughable. It’s almost disrespectful that they tried to give fans this. Overall, Haunting Fear is an entertaining first time watch but has no replay value. If you are looking for a bloody tale inspired by Poe you will be disappointed. However, if you are looking for something you had never seen before to pass the time then I would recommend this one. Check it out now on blu at Makeflix.com