Tuesday, February 28, 2012

The Lurking Fear (1994)

With each passing H.P. Lovecraft film adaptation I see the fact that Guillermo Del Toro's version of AT THE MOUNTAIN OF MADNESS isn't happening gets a little bit more painful. There have been dozens of adaptations of the reclusive writer's work over the past 50 plus years and while there have been some absolute gems of movies, there have been plenty more turds, and until recently with THE CALL OF CTHULHU (which was made by the HPL Historical Society) there hasn't been one very faithful to the source material. Full Moon has done several adaptations of the celebrated writer's work with mixed results.

John Martense has just been released from prison for a crime he didn't commit and is returning to his childhood home of Leffert's Corner. He visits a mortician who is a fmaily friend and is given an old map from his deceased father. The map leads to a graveyard where his father has hidden a stash of money from a heist. Martense arrives at an abandoned church and is confronted by a young woman named Cathryn (Ashley Laurence of the Hellraiser series) and the town doctor (Jeffrey Combs). Soon after a group of criminals looking for the money that was stolen from them by John's father hold's them up until they get what they're after. All the while some hideous inbred monsters lurk in the underbelly of the church hungry to feed their family with the flesh and blood of the townspeople as they have decades.

When you watch a Full Moon film you're instantly aware of it. It will be a low budget production, and more often than not unintentionally funny at some point. The acting will be tolerable at best aside from the odd cast member that can bring some actual ability to the picture (Jeffrey Combs does this in several Full Moon productions). That is the case with LURKING FEAR. The direction is comparable to any direct-to-video horror movie you've seen from the time period on a shoe string budget. There are some decent sets created to give the film the best look possible and you'll never hear me complain that rubber suits were used for the monsters. Practical effects reign supreme when they're a legitimate option. Almost every character was unlikable or at the very least annoying so that you're secretly hoping the monsters get to devour them in a gruesome manner. It did however have some of that damn Full Moon charm that seems to seep into many of their pictures where it is at least somewhat entertaining in an extremely low rent (even slumlord) kind of way.

As far as a faithful Lovecraft adaptaion goes, LURKING FEAR fails like so many others. It is only loosely based on the story to begin with and all atmosphere and tone that Lovecraft put into his fiction was absent here. As a Full Moon film based on a Lovecraft story it is so so. It has the slight entertainment value to it but isn't very good overall and will forever be overshadowed by the king of Lovecraft adaptations Stuart Gordon's CASTLE FREAK (which is actually quite good).

If you're a lover of Full Moon films I'd recommend this to you. If you're an unforgiving lover of all things Howard Philips Lovecraft you should stay away. As it sits with me, it's just another bad HPL movie with a small amount of very cheap entertainment value.



DethRabbit3K said...

Oddly enough, for me the film that's come the closest to evoking the feeling of a Lovecraft story is "In The Mouth Of Madness", which is not based on a Lovecraft story at all.

Celluloid Terror (Seth Poulin) said...

Admittedly I'm long overdue for a rewatch on it but I really like that movie. It seems like it may be easier to make a "Lovecraft" film if you don't adapt one of his stories at all.