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The Fear Blu-ray Review

Written by ZigZag

Blu-ray released by Vinegar Syndrome

The Fear Large

Directed by Vincent Robert
Written by Ron Ford
1995, 102 minutes, Rated R
Released on March 30th, 2021

Starring:
Eddie Bowz as Richard
Heather Medway as Ashley
Ann Turkel as Leslie
Vince Edwards as Uncle Pete
Darin Heames as Troy
Erick Weiss as Morty
Wes Craven as Dr. Arnold

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Review:

Richard is a grad student haunted by recurring nightmares from an event in his childhood. He consults with his psychology professor, Dr. Arnold, about organizing a weekend mountain retreat with a group of friends to participate in a workshop analyzing phobias. Included in the group are his girlfriend Ashley, and best friend Troy. They are joined by Troy’s sister Leslie and her partner Vance, and another couple, Gerald and Mindy. Everyone is eager to get away for a few days as tensions have grown on campus in the wake of a series of sexual assaults. Richard leads the group to his family’s secluded cabin where he can hold his therapy sessions. As they start to get settled in, Ashley discovers Morty, a life-sized wooden mannequin who Richard says is a sort of spiritual guardian of the cabin.

Richard holds his first group meeting and encourages everyone to confess their deepest fears to Morty. We learn that insects make Troy uncomfortable and Leslie is afraid of getting old. Mindy is scared of heights while Gerald questions his religious beliefs. Richard admits he has a fear of commitment as Ashley is pressuring him to settle down and he also houses a deep fear of Morty. Richard’s Uncle Pete crashes the session with his young girlfriend Tanya, who is afraid of water. Pete runs a Christmas-themed amusement park nestled in the woods, but it is the off season and he is looking for company. Over the weekend the group will learn a lot about themselves and some dark family secrets come to light

Things start to get weird as the lifelike Morty turns up in strange locations as if he were moving about on his own. There are some strange occurrences that lead us to believe he may be. Morty isn’t the only concern, however, as it appears the campus rapist has followed them to their retreat. Soon, people start disappearing or turning up dead and Richard is forced to confront his childhood fears in order to save his friends.

The Fear (1995), written by Ron Ford (Deadly Scavengers) and directed by Vincent Robert, is a Freudian horror that springs from the basic question “What scares you?” and then turns those phobias against you. The film is far from perfect but contains several interesting concepts and memorable set-pieces. There’s nothing new about a group of friends spending a weekend in a remote cabin and getting killed off one by one, but Ford and Robert keep it interesting by including some fresh ideas and striking images. There is a mystery at the center of the story regarding the circumstances of Rich’s mother’s death and the mental anguish he carries as an adult.

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As is often the way in horror movies, the star of the picture is the villain, in this case Morty, the creepy wooden mannequin. He sits quietly as everyone interacts around him, but his all-too-lively eyes give the impression that he can jump up and kill at any moment. The fun is waiting to see if he will. The film also benefits from its eye-catching locations, particularly the Christmas-themed amusement park that comes into play during the finale. What was designed as a kid-friendly attraction is actually quite spooky at night with its oversized totems that have fallen into disrepair.

Eddie Bowz (Murder in the First) stars as Richard, the aspiring psychologist looking for the missing piece to his own happiness. He is a decent guy overall and means well but could be a better boyfriend. Heather Medway (Serpent’s Lair) plays the put-upon Ashley who wants more than Richard is prepared to offer but is willing to give him room to work out his issues. Their relationship is strained but both are likeable enough to hope they overcome the pressure. Darin Heames (Night of the Demons 2) plays Troy, one of the more interesting characters who despite his laid-back demeanor is plagued by secrets. The lovely Ann Turkel (Humanoids from the Deep) is Troy’s age-obsessed sister Leslie and the two play well off each other. Veteran character actor Vince Edwards (The Seduction) is the prickly Uncle Pete who carries a secret or two of his own. Wes Craven (The People Under the Stairs) has a small role as Rich’s professor Dr. Arnold and gives the strongest performance in the film.

The Fear is a generally satisfying movie that shines whenever its distinct-looking villain is on screen. The filmmakers play it close to the vest for as long as possible before revealing whether Morty is alive or not and what powers he may or may not possess. Gore and nudity are minimal, instead focusing on the psychological horrors. The ending invites a sequel and indeed one followed a few years later, The Fear: Resurrection (1999), without the original’s director, writer or cast members – but we do get Betsy Palmer (Friday the 13th) as Grandma! It’s mildly entertaining, but I recommend you stick with the first one.

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Video and Audio:

Picture quality is at an all-time high with the 4K scan and restoration of the original camera negative. Presented in the 1.85:1 aspect ratio, image quality is greatly improved over the previously released DVD. Colors pop and black levels are well-saturated and the detail in Morty’s carving is pleasing.

A DTS-HD MA 2.0 stereo mix gets the job done with dialogue levels remaining clean and understandable. Music cues and sound effects are balanced and never intrusive. Optional English subtitles are included for anyone in need.

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Special Features:

There are two audio commentaries on this disc, the first with director Vincent Robert, the other with executive producer Greg H. Sims. Both of these tracks are winners, as we hear a wide range of production stories and anecdotes that are informative and entertaining. One track complements the other and they are definitely worth checking out.

The new documentary Face to Face with The Fear: The Making of a Cult Classic (50 minutes) is a ten-part retrospective piece that dives into the making of the film. There are interviews with Robert and Sims and writer Ron Ford, plus actors Eddie Bowz, Darin Heams, Heather Medway, Ann Turkel and Erick Weiss. They share their memories of bringing the project to life and what it was like on the set. Special make-up effects artists Tim Irvin and Jason Hamer reveal the limitations of the production resulting in their creating only two foam rubber Morty suits that were expected to last the duration of the shoot. One highlight finds Sims revisiting the Santa’s Village amusement park, which is still operating today. This is another solid supplement that fans of the film will likely enjoy.

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Grades:

Movie: Threestars Cover
Buy Amazon Us
Video: Fourandahalfstars
Audio: Fourstars
Features: Threeandahalfstars
Overall: 3.5 Star Rating

About The Author
ZigZag
Author: ZigZag
Staff Writer
ZigZag'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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