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Lurking Fear Reviews

The promised terror never makes an appearance in LURKING FEAR, a Charles Band production with a serviceable premise but negligible execution. John Martense (Blake Bailey), who comes from a notorious family of criminals, is released from jail and goes to see Knaggs (Vincent Schiavelli), an old friend of his father. Knaggs provides him with a map revealing the location of thousands of dollars; the money was buried with a body in the town cemetery in Leffert's Corners. Soon after John leaves, the ruthless Bennett (Jon Finch) arrives with his thugs and kills Knaggs after forcing him to reveal John's destination. In Leffert's Corners, John discovers that Cathryn (Ashley Lauren) and Dr. Haggis (Jeffrey Combs) have wired the graveyard with dynamite to destroy a group of subterranean mutants who are terrorizing the town; the monsters are descended from a bastard son of the Martense family. Bennett arrives, has the explosives defused, and holds Father Poole (Paul Mantee) and the pregnant Beth (Luana Stoica) hostage in the church, demanding that the money be turned over to him. After exhuming a body (which turns out to be the wrong one) for Bennett, John is dragged underground by the creatures but manages to get away. Soon, however, the mutants begin to attack the church, killing the group one by one. Cathryn escapes and goes to retrieve a gas truck; upon returning, she is dragged down by the creatures to their lair, where John, Bennett, and Beth have already been taken. Fighting the mutants off with a torch, John escapes with Cathryn and Beth while Bennett falls victim to the monsters; the survivors use the gas truck to blow the creatures to smithereens. Although LURKING FEAR, like the Band productions RE-ANIMATOR and FROM BEYOND, is based on a short story by legendary horror writer H.P. Lovecraft, the resemblances largely end there. While director Stuart Gordon used the Lovecraft pieces as a springboard to let his imagination run wild on the aforementioned films, this one remains rooted in the mundane, stranding its cross-section of characters in one location and giving them little of interest to do. Writer-director C. Courtney Joyner, whose own previous script work (CLASS OF 1999, TRANCERS III) had more panache than this, tries to hold viewer attention between monster attacks with much discourse about the Martense family history, but it's a wasted effort. The actors all seem game enough, but the characters are generally one-note. Genre veterans Combs (familiar from Gordon's films) and Lauren (who was billed as Laurence when she appeared in the HELLRAISER trilogy) do their best, while old pros Finch and Mantee try hard, but as the story winds on, the people seem to have little function but to mark time when the creatures aren't on screen. The monsters themselves are fairly well-executed but unmemorable, and certainly not as scary as the unspeakable horrors described in Lovecraft's story. (Graphic violence, profanity.)