Lurking Cover“The thing came abruptly and unannounced; a demon, rat-like, scurrying from pits remote and unimaginable, a hellish panting and stifled grunting, and then from that opening beneath the chimney a burst of multitudinous and leprous life – a loathsome night-spawned flood of organic corruption more devastatingly hideous than the blackest conjurations of mortal madness and morbidity.”

Yes, the words of Howard Philips Lovecraft (not mine, I wish) one of the greatest writers of horror fiction ever and perhaps the word fiction should be taken with a pinch of salt, “prophecies” may well be a better word as we are all waiting for the times of The Great Old Ones to come again. Naturally his tales have spread their many tentacles to inspire those dabbling in many other art forms and as far as movies are concerned there have been various adaptations of his stories from the good to the bad and the just plain ugly.

For me the good comprise of a mere handful. The ones that I would cite straight away as being bloody good (especially in uncut form) are Stuart Gordon’s Reanimator and Brian Yuzna’s follow up Bride Of Reanimator (1985 and 1990). I have fond memories of the first, just managing to get into a cinema in the Swiss Centre Leicester Square when it came out at the age of 17 and sitting there with my jaw on the floor for the duration. Are there seriously any other good ones though? I guess The Dunwich Horror is a bit of a classic from 1970 but I have not seen this for years. I will go out on a limb and put Dagon up there too as again Stuart Gordon does a really skilful job of creating a great sense of atmosphere in this wet fishy tale adapted from just a few penned pages. There are of course others that are more inspired by Lovecraft, Fulci dabbled with splatter fest and video nasty The House By The Cemetery (1981) and Mariano Baino’s Dark Water’s (1993) is a fantastic ode to Lovecraft and a film that any fan simply must seek out! But there are more misses. Jean-Paul Ouellette The Unamable (1998) should have been just that and From Beyond (1986) proved the ever reliable Gordon could make a real turkey and Necronomicon (1993) a four part anthology from various directors including Yuzna tried but ultimately failed. I have a soft spot for John Carpenter’s The Mouth Of Madness (1994) but it’s still ultimately a bit of a turkey. Anyway after this personal crash course which you may or may not agree with what about Lurking Fear?


This was one I had not viewed until it arrived courtesy of 88 Films who have resurrected it from Charles Band’s Full Moon Productions stable. Originally released in 1994 and directed by C Courtney Joiner who was much more a writer than a director it is an interesting movie which I had to admit I was not expecting much from but found myself very pleasantly surprised. Nasty things are going on in the town of Leffert’s Corner and in the prologue we see two sisters trying to save a baby from nasty things in the walls only for one of them to be hilariously grabbed and sucked into the uncharted depths of the building never to be seen again. The title Lurking Fear is perfect as it was with the source material as these dwellers do lurk and grab those not on their guard. As far as Lovecraft’s source material is concerned watching this I was instantly reminded of another good adaptation, the Masters Of Horror series Dreams In The Witch House episode (again by Stuart Gordon) which admirably brings Brown Jenkins to life.

Fast forwarding to the present and a group of people end up in a church in Leffert’s Corner and a desperate struggle ensues. Not only is this church and graveyard under siege by these creatures who are being fought by the local priest, a drunken doctor played by Jeffery Combs (did I mention you cannot do a Lovecraft film without Combs starring) and a pregnant woman who he has with him along with the remaining sister from the films beginning looking for revenge (Hellraiser’s Ashley Laurence). Add to this a recently released and wrongly accused jailbird looking for his legacy of money buried in a corpse and three other ruthless gangsters also looking for said treasure and you know things are going to get grizzly.

WE00358There are several reasons Lurking Fear ultimately succeeds but the main one is simple, its bloody good fun. This is not a huge splatter fest, in fact gore is quite subdued but the film wins with an irreverent sense of humour. Much of this is provided by some of the cast. The undertaker who sets everyone off looking for the buried loot is literally a hoot of an unsavoury character in his short screen time. Bennett the chief gangster played by the late great Jon Finch puts in a grand display of Cockney violence which although accent wise seems totally out of place and exaggerated is great fun. Then of course there’s Combs, bearded up, guzzling his hip flask and trying to be the unwitting saviour, as always putting in a great performance. There’s plenty of explosions, lots of mud and rain helping the atmosphere and this basically goes like the clappers pace wise not outstaying its welcome in the slightest over a scant 76 minute running time. Making this largely in Romania, with a crew from there no doubt help give the film much of its look and helped the budget go further. The church and buildings certainly have plenty of character as does the graveyard where much of the more explosive action takes place. Luckily the pre CGI creature effects live up to things too and really do come up to expectations.

There’s a brief ‘Making Of’ segment with cast members and director, sure it’s short but it tells you what you need to know and gives a brief insight into things too. Lurking Fear is a good mix of horror / creature movie with a gangster sub plot which is a more than enjoyable entry into the Lovecraftian stable and is definitely worth giving a watch.

(Pete Woods)