Monday, January 17, 2011

Lurking Fear (1994)

I'm sure I'm not the only person out there who is strangely compelled to see every movie Jeffrey Combs has appeared in since seeing Re-Animator as a kid. I've got a long way to go before covering his whole career but I've probably seen enough to qualify as being... a bit odd. This is one that managed to escape my attention until now, and even though it's hardly a classic, I dug it all the same. 

Lurking Fear is a pretty straight-forward 75 minute romp about a world where grotesque monsters emerge from the ground each night to chow down on ordinary, top-soil dwelling folk. Apparently it's very loosely based on a HP Lovecraft story of the same name, which luckily I haven't read - I probably would have enjoyed this movie a lot less if I'd read a version of the story that's actually, y'know, good. There's a storyline about some criminals and a grave robbing heist that you definitely don't need to know about, because really the whole point of this is to watch monsters eat people - and get some quality Combs time in. 

This is the kind of movie that's generally a sure thing for someone like myself... But for others, some caution might need to be exercised. Lurking Fear suffers from a lot of problems. For one thing, the score is really bad, that typical Full Moon electronic midi setup where everything sounds like it was recorded on the cheapest synthesizers known to man. And on the subject of sound, there are a number of laughably cheap sound effects recycled over and over throughout the movie, in particular a hilarious cartoon "punching" sound that's used ohhh, maybe 1,000 times. Honestly, how that one got past is anyone's guess, but it probably doesn't help that in most of the fight scenes the actors are clearly missing eachother by a few feet every time they take a swing. That said, the movie does redeem itself in this department by throwing in a blatant/pointless "two girls fighting in mud" scene towards the end, which is hilariously out of place and probably the last thing filmed when the producers decided they needed to sex things up a little more. 

One aspect that did disappoint me is that this movie has very little gore, and not as much monster action as I'd have liked... or at least my copy of it did anyways. An extra dollop of the gooey stuff would have made this movie much more fun, but save for a couple of brief shots it doesn't really go for this angle all that much. The creature effects are actually pretty decent for the budget, though like Pumpkinhead the full length shots of the monsters are pretty ropey looking. I gotta say having the monsters talk is a bit naff, especially seeing as they all sound like one guy doing a really bad Hulk Hogan impression. Probably not what Lovecraft had in mind.

Lurking Fear's strongest aspect is it's cast - Ashley Laurence (of Hellraiser fame), Jon Finch and Vincent Schiavelli are all here, and even though they ring that shit in like you wouldn't believe, it's still fun to see so many cool actors on board. I had a huge thing for Ashley Laurence when I was a kid but hadn't seen her in anything since the Hellraiser movies, so that was a plus. There's also a guy named Blake Bailey that had me racking my brains trying to figure out where I'd seen him - and after finally caving and looking up IMDB, I saw that he'd starred in Head Of The Family, which I saw like once about 12 years ago. It's kind of disturbing that I remember that movie so well. Aaanywho, I've already mentioned Jeffrey Combs, but you can never have enough Combs - he's easily the best thing about the movie, this time playing a more comical drunk than the tortured soul he played in Castle Freak.

On the whole, I was into this. I'm a sucker for creature features anyways, and this movie definitely reminded me of the likes of The Unnamable or Pumpkinhead at points. There were even certain aspects that  reminded me of From Dusk Til Dawn, albeit if it had been made on one-twentieth of the budget. It's riddled with flaws, but it's easy to get past them and just enjoy the movie for what it is. Also as a bonus, my video had an extra little "making of" and "Video Zone" segment presented by Charles Band, plugging other Full Moon releases which was actually really cool and extremely "early 90s". 


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