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John’s Horror Corner: Lurking Fear (1994), perhaps the least Lovecraftian Lovecraft film ever made.

May 22, 2013

MY CALL:  70 minutes of terrible…but I couldn’t stop giggling while rolling my eyes. And yes, without the credits this really is only 70 minutes.  WHAT TO WATCH INSTEAD:  I was quite pleased with the Lovecraft adaptation Dagon (2001).  Also try Hellraiser (1987), From Beyond (1986) and The Re-Animator (1985) for serious gore and weird tones.  Bleeders (1997) is actually a surprisingly similar movie, but MUCH MUCH better.

Family Tree Disclaimer:  Okay, so I only decided to watch this (again) and review it since my uncle (Joe Leavengood) was in it.  I enjoyed his “tough guy” lines for obvious reasons.  You’ll know him right away.  He’s the mustached hired-muscle goon in the bad guy’s group.

That’s my uncle.  Isn’t he great at his trade?

Really cheap sets and highly questionable acting raise a brow of doubt in the first 90 seconds of this movie.  But don’t worry, the writing is bad, too. So you’ll get plenty of “oh, geez” laughs out of it.  A lot of the scenes feel like they came out of some horror-themed soap opera–which doesn’t speak well of the director of this laughable catastrophe.

The first scene sets an interesting tone.  Two women and an infant are staying in some old church with monsters living between the under the floors.  They know these monsters want to eat them, but they spend the night anyway and somehow are able to sleep…alone…with no one keeping watch.  Low and behold, the consequence of this thoughtful plan was that someone got killed by some rubber-gloved monster-clawed arms reaching out from a vent in the wall.

You see, there are these Morlockian troglodytes living under a church and the nearby cemetery.  They grunt and have grey skin and glazed white eyes as you would imagine any typical subterranean corpse-eating creature would appear.

The story brings together three sets of people with different motives to the church…

The first is John Martense (Blake Adams/Bailey; The Killer Eye, Head of the Family), who is released from prison to meet crooked mortician Knaggs (Vincent Schiavelli; Ghost, Lord of Illusions).  After a quick “how ya’ doin'” John is already planning to commit a crime.  He’s going to recover some blood money that was buried with a body in the graveyard by the church.  I know what you’re thinking and the answer is yes: that church.

Then there’s Bennett, Marlowe (Allison Mackie) and Pierce (Joe Leavengood; Trancers 2; Basket Case 2), three criminals that are after the same money.

Among others, Cathryn (Ashley Laurence; the Hellraiser series, Warlock III), Maria (Cristina Stoica; Dark Angel: The Ascent, Lurid Tales: The Castle Queen) and an alcoholic physician Dr. Haggis (Jeffrey Combs; The Re-Animator, From Beyond) make up the third group.  They seek to eliminate this race of subterranean humanoids of local legend–a legend which is mentioned, but never really explained.

The action scenes are quite bad, ranging from terrible pulled punches to awkward, hardly credible gun handling skills.  The sound effects accompanying the punches remind me of the original arcade version of Street Fighter.  The same goes for all of the altercations with the monsters.  The most credible action was the cemetery mud wrestling brawl between Allison Mackie and Ashley Laurence in the pouring rain.  Go figure.  The male director gave all of his technical attention to a catfight hybrid between a wet t-shirt contest and women’s mud wrestling.

The gore is generally weak, but I must credit the effects team and director for making so many attempts to please the Fangoria fans out there.  There are a lot of dead body, corpse and skeleton scenes in which these props are used for more than just background.  They come with a few laughs.  The creature make-up is similarly ho-hum.  But they embrace it.  They don’t make you wait until the last 20 minutes of the movie to see it.  You get to see it a lot.  Which means they spent a lot of money on it and took some risks.

This story is evidently based on some work of H. P. Lovecraft.  Other than a weak link between a human church and the creatures, I see no connection to Lovecraft.  It definitely didn’t “feel” Lovecraftian.  To add to that, the story follows these three groups of people convening on this church.  But we don’t have much of a good explanation as to “why” the good guys are trying to eradicate these monsters.

Lovecraft fans shouldn’t see this.  It will just disappoint them.  But bad horror fans are in for the standard laughs that come with genre.  This movie takes itself very seriously, and that just adds to the fun.

19 Comments leave one →
  1. June 13, 2013 8:50 pm

    I haven’t seen this one, but From Beyond freaked the hell out of me when i was a kid! And LOVE, LOVE Re-animator =D

  2. johnleavengood permalink
    June 14, 2013 12:17 pm

    Careful. Those two movies you mentioned are WAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAY better than this one. In fact…they’re good. This isn’t. This is just plain bad fun.


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