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Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Summer Of Fear aka Stranger In Our House

     Wes Craven followed up his infamous LAST HOUSE ON THE LEFT and his controversial THE HILLS HAVE EYES with the superbly entertaining SUMMER OF FEAR. It's a made-for-tv flick based on the young-adult mystery novel by Lois Duncan, and stars the one and only Linda Blair. Can I just start by saying what a trip this movie is?

     SUMMER OF FEAR deals with Rachel Bryant, played by Blair.  Rachel is your typical, free-wheeling teenager who loves horseback riding, has a major crush on a boy, and pretty much lives a golden life.  Her world is shaken up one sunny morning with the stunning news of the death of her aunt and uncle, who along with their housekeeper, died in a car accident in the Ozark Mountains.  As a result of this tragedy, their teenage daugher Julia, played by Lee Purcell, is coming to live with Rachel and her family.  And suddenly all hell breaks loose.

     Rachel likes Julia at first, who comes across as rather mousy and scared of her own shadow.  But Rachel soon realizes there is something mysterious going on with dowdy Julia.  Rachel soon begins to suspect her cousin Julia is a witch, from the Ozarks.  I'm not making this up!  Seems Julia is putting everybody under her spell except Rachel.  Julia seems to be taking over Rachel's life, her family, her crush, and her friends- which by the way, is played by none other than Fran Drescher from "The Nanny"!  I told you this was a trip! Julia starts dressing like Rachel, even copying her hair.  The whole thing builds to a completely satisfying catfight showdown of a climax.

     Now even though this is a Wes Craven production, don't expect a brutal exercise in horror.  Far from it, actually. This is a wonderful 70's time capsule, to be sure. And it's tons of fun to watch, but hardly what you would expect from Wes Craven. Know what I mean? Linda Blair is always a joy, although her character pretty much comes across as a whiny, spoiled brat.  She also suffers from a downright horrifying perm, by far the scariest thing in this movie.  I'm not throwing shade on SUMMER OF FEAR though.  I love this little movie.  I'm just saying, if you're expecting another THE HILLS HAVE EYES, you might be somewhat disappointed.

     Originally airing around Halloween back in 1978, SUMMER OF FEAR made an impact.  It aired nationally an astonishing 4 times, and was even released theatrically in Europe.  It's known as a classic made-for-tv horror film, and goes great with SATAN'S SCHOOL FOR GIRLS. Good times.


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