Friday, March 12, 2021


Alessandro De Gaetano

Haunted is a strange movie but I should not expect less from the person who brought us UFO Target Earth (1974). Hitchcock is well known for bringing us the idea that the audience anticipating a ticking time bomb in a room while the characters do not is what creates suspense. The ticking time bomb of Haunted is a phone booth installed in a near-by cemetery. Does it create suspense? Not really. But it does generate a lot of confusion which seems to be the weapon of choice for this film.

Haunted begins with an opening text which is rarely a good sign. In this case it tells us about a Native American woman is accused of witchcraft and sentenced to die. The film then proceeds the shows us the thing they just made us read about rending the opening text useless. The accused, Abanaki (Ann Michelle) has her top removed for some reason before she is sent off to die in the desert which gives us laborious shots of her tits as she rides off. This moment introduces Haunted's 2nd most notorious element, a constant barrage of 1970s folk and soft rock. It opens with a theme song called ‘Indian Woman’ which is terrible but also sets the stage for what is to come.

"Huh, looks like there's stuff happening way over there."

Haunted’s setting is an interesting element, a dying tourist trap in the form of an old west town. Patrick (Jim Negele) and Russel (Brad Rearden) are brothers who are inheriting the place after their father died in a car accident. Their mother, Michelle (Virginia Mayo), was blinded and now suffers from dementia. This doesn’t sit well with their uncle, Andrew, who has lusted after Michelle for some time. This family also just happens to be related to the people who sent Abanaki off to die over a century ago. The reincarnation of Abanaki comes in the form of Jennifer Baines who’s car just happens to break down at the tourist spot. She quickly falls in love with Patrick and gains the ire of Andrew. Her past self is driving her to revenge even though she doesn’t know it yet.

Haunted sets all its pieces up and then… never quite figures out what to do. There is a lot of laying around while folk music plays, extensive flowery speeches from grandma, and Aldo Ray being sweaty and angry. To its credit Haunted does build a spooky atmosphere but it never builds much of a story. It all culminates in a bizarre Rube Goldberg revenge scheme that does indeed rely on the fact there is a phone booth recently installed in the cemetery.

"Why do we keep the pool balls in the fridge anyway?"

Like UFO: Target Earth, Haunted is slow and dreamy but with virtually no story. Also, like UFO: Target Earth there is an undeniably compelling weirdness at work that keeps bringing me back to this film. If you have an affinity for that particularly 1970s brand of occultism, Haunted might work for you, for everyone else I wouldn’t answer the phone in that graveyard.

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