Wednesday, November 11, 2009

'Lurking Fear' is among the worst
of Full Moon's releases

Lurking Fear (1994)
Starring: Blake Bailey, Ashley Lauren, Jeffrey Combs, Jon Finch, Allison Mackie, Vincent Schiavelli, Paul Mantee and Joseph Leavengood
Director: C. Courtney Joyner
Producers: Charles Band, Oana Paunescu and Vlad Paunescu
Rating: Three of Ten Stars

A recently paroled convict (Bailey) travels to an isolated California town in search of stolen loot buried in the cemetery there. Unfortunately, a crime lord and his coldhearted gun moll (Finch and Mackie) are hot on his trail and equally hot for the money. Even worse, they arrive in the town as its remaining citizens are taking up arms against underground-dwelling horrors who have been murdering them at night.

"Lurking Fear" is loosely (very loosely) based on a short story by H.P. Lovecraft that is the origin point of what we think of as ghouls these days. Lovecraft stories are difficult to translate to the screen, and as successful as producer Charles Band's earlier forays into Lovecraft Country had been (the very excellent "Castle Freak" and "From Beyond") this film is a failure on every level.

So, while the poster image above says Lovecraft, and the preview featured below say "action-packed horror movie," the movie itself does not live up to the promises of the promtional material.

The problems start with the fact the film was shot in Romania, with a Romanian neighborhood trying to pass for a small Californian town and a Romanian church--complete with 400 year old eastern European Catholic iconography--trying to pass for a small-town church in the American west.

These problems are aggravated by a sloppily written script and even sloppier directed film that ignores plot points, common sense, and even characterization in favor of keeping an evermore incoherent plot moving forward.

Completing the trifecta of crapitude that sinks this movie is the lame performances given by just about every actor appearing in the film. There are several performers who'll you recognize from dozens of other A- and B-movies (like Ashley Lauren, Jon Finch and Vincent Schiavelli) and some Full Moon regulars (Blake Bailey and Jeffrey Combs), but only Finch and Combs give performances that even hint at the caliber of talent appearing on the screen.

The end result is there is no way even the most willing-to-be-pleased viewer will be able to find himself engaged with the movie, so it never manages to build suspense. The 71-minutes of running-time seem a lot longer than they are.

I realize that the actors must have known what an awful film they were appearing in, but they could have at least have had the self-respect and professionalism to earn their paychecks. It looks like Finch and Combs were the only true professionals working on this film, as everyone else didn't even seem to be trying. (And I can't even be sure about Finch; his voice was reportedly looped by a different actor in post-production.)

Everything else about this film is so lazy and sloppy that it ends up ranking with some of the worst that Full Moon released during the 1990s. (Of course, put it next to "The Killer Eye," and it looks like a masterpiece.)

Watch the preview for "Lurking Fear,"
courtesy of Full Moon Entertainment and YouTube...

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