Will the Social Justice Warriors just shut-up and let us enjoy Lovecraft? Sadly, his notion of racial distinctions is awkwardly antiquated by today’s standards, but he lived a short, sickly life of seclusion, profoundly dominated by a mentally ill mother during his formative years. He never had a chance to broaden his perspective. However, his macabre writings made him the most influential American dark fantasist since Poe. C. Courtenay Joyner took a stab at one of Lovecraft’s frequently adapted short stories, helming the Charles Band-produced the better-than-its-reputation-suggests Lurking Fear (trailer here), which is now available on BluRay from Full Moon.
If you are familiar with the Lovecraft story, maybe you should try to forget while watching Joyner’s “loose” adaptation. There are no reporters snooping around Martense Manor this time around. Instead, recently released ex-con John Martense has returned to his ancestral hometown of Leffert’s Corners, hoping to find the loot his father buried in the local graveyard. Unbeknownst to Martense and the gangsters on his trail, there are evil entities lurking (so to speak) beneath the church and surrounding grounds.
Martense happened to pick the one day a hardy band of villagers chose to rise up and strike at the evil beings. Unfortunately, Bennett, the spiteful kingpin, will largely undo their preparations, taking the desperate locals hostage along with their reluctant ally Father Poole and Martense, whom they do not know from Adam. Of course, Bennett is in for some cosmic payback.
Even by horror movie standards, Lurking’s budget constraints look unusually severe. Yet, despite the fakeness of the makeup and effects, the film sort of works. Largely, this is due to a great cast that chews the limited scenery with gusto. Most reassuring to fans, Lovecraft specialist Jeffrey Combs is back (reportedly, Lurking was initially developed with Stuart Gordon attached) as the aggressively alcoholic Dr. Haggis—you’d drink too, if you were related to Paul Haggis or had to stitch up a lot of people mauled by demonic Morlocks.
Jon Finch (Polanski’s Macbeth) wonderfully hams it up as the snide Bennett. Allison Mackie (the previous tenant of Sharon Stone’s Sliver apartment) also delivers some flamboyant villainy as Ms. Marlowe, Bennett’s gun moll (orc whatever). Paul Mantee (star of Robinson Crusoe on Mars and a recurring on Cagney & Lacey) brings some dignity to the proceedings as Father Poole, but not so much Blake Adams often appearing shirtless as Martense. Still, you cannot fault his appropriately over-the-top-and-out-there voice-overs.