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Summer of Fear (1978) (TVM)

)Summer of Fear movie poster

Aka Stranger in Our House. You know how your parents preferred an interloper to you when you were growing up – and they took over your bedroom, your stuff, your best friend, your boyfriend, your dad … sheesh, it happens to us all. YA author Lois Duncan (I Know What You Did Last Summer) took it to another level in this movie’s source novel bringing a bereaved cousin into the frame. Weirdly this TVM was directed by Wes Craven and you really wouldn’t know it: he made it between The Hills Have Eyes and Deadly Blessing. It’s a tale of middle class upset with a serious subtext. The book is straightened out to fit small screen requirements by Glenn Benest and Max Keller so you don’t get the full thrust of horror credentials that the provenance would suggest. The bad acting doesn’t help things with both Blair (fresh off both Exorcists and a drugs bust) and her nemesis Lee Purcell (Big Wednesday and 30 when this was shot!) mercilessly upstaged by sidekick Fran Drescher (yikes, that accent!) in a small role while Jeremy Slate is woeful as the besotted dad. But what a joy to see Macdonald Carey (Shadow of a Doubt and TV’s Days of Our Lives) in the role of the university prof who suspects something awry. Craven allegedly shot this to feel like a Polanski paranoia-fest and the dayglo locations in Hidden Hills just emphasise the comfortable nature of the home invasion by this inbred Ozark freak because aside from the horrible scene with the horse the most frightening thing is Blair’s hair.

About elainelennon

An occasional movie-watching diary.

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