Horror classic receives its Blu-Ray debut…
To understand Lurking Fear, you have to understand the career of tireless schlock-peddler Charles Band, who began directing films in the 1970s, forming his own company, Charles Band Productions, when he found that he didn’t like the way any other companies did business, before expanding into distribution with Empire International Pictures, based in Rome. The Empire days were heady, producing hybrid comedy-horror hits such as Ghoulies, Troll, From Beyond, Trancers, and the redoubtable Re-Animator, but bankruptcy came soon, followed by the establishment of Full Moon Features, who continued to produce and distribute Empire-style product such as the long-running, and oft-crossing-over, Puppet Master, Dollman, Subspecies, Bad Channels, Demonic Toys, and eventually the Killjoy, Gingerdead Man and Evil Bong, series as well as one-offs such as the Lovecraft adaptation Castle Freak, all directed by almost-familiar “B”-names like Stuart Gordon, Albert Pyun, Albert “brother of Charles” Band, and of course Charles himself. In this atmosphere, Lurking Fear made perfect sense.
Like Re-Animator and Castle Freak, Lurking Fear is an adaptation of a lesser-known Lovecraft story, 1923’s “The Lurking Fear”, serialised in Home Brew and dealing with a strange and unfortunate race of sub-human creatures who live in a series of subterranean tunnels. The story doesn’t represent the rum old bugger of pulp fiction at his finest, and the twist in which the creatures are revealed to be the descendants of the once-noble Martense family was, by that point in the writer’s career, a little trite. The film, likewise, offers only slight pleasures especially in comparison with some of the glorious cheese offered up in the Empire era. Two actors often capable of delightful unhingedness are present here, Jeffrey “Herbert West, Re-Animator” Combs himself, and arthouse and television veteran Vincent Schiavelli. Schiavelli’s performance is oddly subdued despite occasional flashes of brilliance, and Combs’ is merely solid; there are no other performances or characters worth getting particularly excited about, or invested in, and that presents a problem when the plot relies on having our characters besieged in a church. None of the drama or tension that ought to be present seems to mean anything much, and it isn’t until the climax, a Gothic action setpiece that prefigures the superior From Dusk Till Dawn, that anything really holds the interest, and by then it’s a little late.
Lurking Fear is released on Blu-Ray today (15th), will you be checking it out? Let us know in the comment box below!