Friday, March 25, 2022

Haunting Fear


Haunting Fear
Fred Olen Ray

Haunting Fear is supposedly based on the works of Edgar Allen Poe, mostly the story, Premature Burial. In b-movie tradition, that connection is tenuous at best, see Haunted Palace (1963) and several other Corman films from his Poe cycle for more details.  I mean I guess there is a premature burial in the film (actually 2 kind of but not really).  What this story is really about comes down to sex scenes and some light horror. That’s not a complaint, when you watch a Fred Olen Ray movie, you want him to stick to his strengths. 

I love Michelle Bauer, she always seems very game for whatever kind of movie she’s in and with the right material she has a lot of charisma on screen. Haunting Fear is not one of those instances. The bulk of the story hinges on Victoria’s abject horror at being buried alive and how that slowly pulls her down into insanity. The acting just isn’t there to pull it off. To be fair, nobody puts in a good performance, save Michael Berryman who steals the entire film in his brief scene. Then again, I can’t recall Michael Berryman not stealing a movie that he’s in.


Future star of 1313 Cougar Cult (2012).

Spoiler territory here but the most frustrating aspect of the Haunting Fear comes from its best sequence turning out to be a dream. Victoria finds herself somehow trapped in her body unable to speak or move and to everyone’s perception quite dead. She ends up in the morgue and the mortician (Michael Berryman) starts to perform an autopsy on her. Immediately my interest in the story was much more engaged, as I was wondering how they were going to have her survive this and they don’t, it’s just a dream, disappointing.

First premature non-burial down.

The second half of the film is more of the same. Victoria’s husband (John Henry Richardson) gaslights her in hopes of forcing her to die from a heart attack by playing on her fear of being buried alive. He ends up trapping her in a coffin with a handful of dirt and two mice in order to drive her over the edge.  Not a buried coffin mind you, it’s just sitting on there in the house. Somehow this turns her into a demon.

Second premature non-burial is in the can.


Michael Bury Man (get it?)

Haunting Fear is not a good film but as low budget time-waster it carries a certain charm about it. If you are familiar with Fred Olen Ray’s output you know what you are getting. I can’t say I hated it, sometimes you just want some cheap scares and lengthy sex scenes to pass the time. If you’re a big Edgar Allen Poe fan probably won’t find much that qualifies it as a Poe film. Michael Berry fans enjoy your supreme five minutes of screen time and then go watch Armed Response (1986) a much better Fred Olen ray movie with him in it.

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