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Lurking Fear Blu-ray Review

Written by Robert Gold

Blu-ray released by Full Moon Entertainment

Lurking Fear Blu Ray Poster

Written and directed by C. Courtney Joyner
1994, 77minutes, Rated R
Blu-ray released on June 15th, 2016

Jon Finch as Bennett
Blake Bailey as John Martense
Ashley Laurence as Cathryn Farrell
Jeffrey Combs as Dr. Haggis
Allison Mackie as Mrs. Marlowe
Paul Mantee as Father Poole
Vincent Shiavelli as Skelton Knaggs
Joe Leavengood as Pierce
Luana Stoica as Beth

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John Martense has just been released from prison and his presence is requested at a nearby funeral home. The undertaker was a partner of John’s criminal father and knows where a large sum of cash is buried in a cemetery. John reluctantly agrees to investigate and ends up in the town of Lefferts Corners. He gets more than he bargained for upon arrival at the churchyard when he meets Cathryn, who holds him at gunpoint. She is part of a small group of residents taking a last stand against an army of creatures that inhabit the tunnels running beneath the community. The monsters eat people and strike whenever it rains, but Cathryn is armed with a crate of dynamite and plans to blow them all to hell. Her plan goes sideways once a group of criminals arrives under the leadership of Bennett, another treasure seeker. Can the group convince Bennett’s gang that they really are facing off against monsters before it is too late, or will the creatures dine on their bones instead?

Written and directed by C. Courtney Joyner (Trancers III), Lurking Fear was inspired by a short story by H.P. Lovecraft, but bears no resemblance to the source material. Joyner keeps things lively with his inclusion of the criminal element, but admits in his commentary that this plot device was probably a mistake. At its heart the film is a thriller with monsters thrown in for good measure. The majority of the picture takes place in one location and focuses on a small number of people, including a doctor, a priest and some strong women. The gang members spend a lot of time pointing guns at people and trying to sound tough, but their act gets stale pretty quickly. The best material comes in scenes between Cathryn and the doctor, who have no time for the hidden-cash McGuffin.

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The monsters don’t receive a lot of screen time – nor should they – but when they do they look cool. The main cast is up for the challenge of keeping things interesting. Jon Finch (The Vampire Lovers) stars as Bennett, the crime boss running light on patience as he seeks his money. Finch is better than the material given having worked with both Hitchcock and Polanski earlier in his career, but does a fine job playing the heavy. Ashley Laurence (Hellraiser), oddly credited here as Ashley Lauren, is a forceful female lead as Cathryn, the woman determined to take down the monsters. She owns every scene she is in and holds her own against her male counterparts. Full Moon veteran Jeffrey Combs (Doctor Mordrid) plays Dr. Haggis, the drunken reluctant hero working closely with Cathryn. The role is a nice switch for Combs, who gets to play against type. Technically, Blake Bailey (The Killer Eye) is the male lead as John Martense, but he is easily overshadowed by everyone around him and simply isn’t that interesting a character.

Supporting players include Paul Mantee (Day of the Animals) as Father Poole, a good man in a bad situation. He tries to solve things peacefully, but between the monsters and the criminals he is hopelessly outnumbered. Alison Mackie (Our Very Own) and Joe Leavengood (Basket Case 2) provide the muscle to Bennett’s gang and both are believable in the parts. Special mention must be made for character actor Vincent Shiavelli (Lord of Illusions), who appears as morally challenged undertaker Skelton Knaggs. His scenes are few but he infuses them with a terrific energy and is always a welcome presence.

Cinematographer Adolfo Bartoli (Trancers II) creates an appropriately moody, atmospheric look to things and the picture benefits greatly from his efforts. Set in Massachusetts but shot in Hungary, the locations have a distinctly European appearance. Joyner stretches his budget to the limit with heavy rains and a series of unexpected third act explosions that are impressive even if some of them are miniatures. Jeffrey Combs’ presence reinforces the Lovecraft connection established in previous Full Moon productions and Joyner works well with his cast to deliver a satisfying genre outing. Lurking Fear is not the best adaptation, but with its brisk running time and strong performances there is a lot going for it.

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Video and Audio:

Presented in the original 1.85:1 aspect ratio, the picture looks pretty good. There hasn’t been a lot of remastering here but the image is solid. Colors are well-balanced with black levels and grain levels appearing natural and even throughout.

Both a Dolby Digital 5.1 mix as well as a 2.0 presentation are offered, with the latter sounding muted and murky. The surround mix fares better for the dialogue levels and benefits from some expanded music cues, but remains primarily a center-channel showcase.

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Special Features:

Courtney Joyner’s audio commentary is highly informative and never lacking for detail. He has a lot to say about the production, Lovecraft, his career and other topics without ever slipping into on-screen narration.

The original Videozone (7 minutes) featurette offers a look at the making of the film with behind-the-scenes images and interviews with members of the cast and crew. This is a great piece but could stand to be a bit longer.

A collection of deleted scenes (4 minutes) has been uncovered from the studio vault but are missing audio. The material plays over music from the soundtrack and includes an alternate ending.

The original theatrical trailer and teaser are joined by a collection of fellow Full Moon title previews.

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Movie: Threestars Cover
Buy Amazon Us
Video: Threeandahalfstars
Audio: Twoandahalfstars
Features: Twoandahalfstars
Overall: 3 Star Rating

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About The Author
Robert Gold
Author: Robert Gold
Staff Reviewer - USA
Robert's favorite genres include horror (foreign and domestic), Asian cinema and pornography (foreign and domestic). His ability to seek out and enjoy shot on video (SOV) horror movies is unmatched. His love of films with a budget under $100,000 is unapologetic.
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