Director: Martin Goldman
A flatlander’s nightmare: brooding, burly New Yorker (J.J. Barry) moves to Vermont, where his accidental hit-and-run killing of a little girl (Karen Lewis) leaves him perpetually looking over his shoulder, fearing the backwoods hoodoo retribution of the child’s grandfather (William Robertson).
Compelling but none too scary, in part due to Barry’s unlikable lead. Still, it’s competently made, mounts some effective suspense, and fascinates with its manifest dread of the very land and people its brutish urban protagonist aches to live among. Stowe, Vermont locals and/or vacationers will want to seek this out for the snapshot of the village in its mid-1970s prime; one sustained confrontation between Barry and Robertson is staged downtown by the fire station, affording a lingering view and plenty of townie talent and extras.
Co-starring Academy Award-winner Kim Hunter (for A STREETCAR NAMED DESIRE, 1951), who is a standout as the rural psychic Barry consults seeking relief; co-scripted by Goldman and lead actress Carole Shelyne, and reportedly filmed in 1975 under the title THE HANT. This PG-rated thriller tasted fleeting theatrical distribution in the US (from Howard Mahler Films, Inc.) and Mexico before its surprisingly wide video release (from Lightning Video in North America and at least two labels in the UK, and other overseas videocassette outfits). Note: Though it didn’t make it into the film version (SILVER BULLET, 1985), Stowe VT is where the young hero of Stephen King’s The Cycle of the Werewolf (1984) was sent to spend the rest of his summer with relatives – after having survived the events of King’s novella.
©2012 Stephen R. Bissette