CC: The Lurking Fear (1922)(1994)

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Thursday, August 15, 2013

CC: The Lurking Fear (1922)(1994)

"The Lurking Fear" is a short story by H. P. Lovecraft in the horror fiction genre.  Written in November 1922, it was first published in the January through April 1923 issues of Home Brew.  Like "Herbert West–Reanimator", earlier published in Home Brew, "The Lurking Fear" was solicited by editor George Julian Houtain expressly to be published as a serial.  Unlike with "Herbert West", however, Houtain ran recaps of the story so far with each installment after the first, relieving Lovecraft of the need for objectionable repetition.  Comparing it to Lovecraft's earlier story in Home Brew, Lin Carter said that while "The Lurking Fear" is "a more serious study in traditional horror, it lacks the light, almost joyous touch of ‘Herbert West.'"

The story is split up into 4 chapters:

I. The Shadow On The Chimney

The narrator, hearing tales of a "lurking fear" upon Tempest Mountain, takes two men with him to investigate.  They camp inside the deserted Martense Mansion as a lightning storm approaches, and feeling strangely drowsy, they all fall asleep.  The narrator wakes up to find both his companions missing, and in a flash of lightning sees a demonic shadow cast upon the fireplace chimney from a grotesque monster.

II. A Passer In The Storm

Continuing his investigation, the narrator teams up with Arthur Munroe, another journalist.  The two find as much information as they can on the Mansion and environs, until they find themselves trapped by yet another storm. Bunkered in a small cabin, they witness a bright flash of lightning.  Arthur looks out the window to survey the damage.  The narrator, curious as to why Arthur is still staring out the window, turns him to find his face chewed off.

III. What The Red Glare Meant

As the narrator digs upon the grave of Jan Martense, he describes the history of the Martense family.  Upon reaching the coffin, he continues to dig, and subsequently falls into a subterranean burrow.  He crawls along, until he sees two eyes reflecting his torch-light in the darkness.  Yet another lightning-strike causes the tunnel to cave in above the beast and the narrator has to dig his way to the surface. He spots a red glare in the distance that he learns was a cabin that the hillside squatters had set alight with one of the beasts inside.

IV. The Horror In The Eyes

The narrator continues to search for more clues, until it occurs to him that peculiar mounds of earth lead out in lines from the Mansion.  He finds a burrow entrance in the basement as another storm approaches.  Finding a hiding place, he watches as countless creatures crawl from the hole.  The narrator then sees one of the weaker members of the grotesque mob get attacked and eaten by one of its compatriots.  He shoots one of the creatures as it straggles behind the rest of the pack using a clap of thunder to disguise the muzzle blast, and upon closer inspection, notices the creature's heterochromia (two different colored eyes) and realizes that the deformed, hair-covered creature is in fact a relative of the Martense family, who after many years of isolation have degenerated into apelike creatures.

Lurking Fear (1994)

  • Directed: C. Courtney Joyner
  • Produced: Charles Band
  • Written: C. Courtney Joyner
  • Starring: Blake Bailey, Ashley Laurence, Jon Finch, Jeffrey Combs, Vincent Schiavelli
  • Music: Jim Manzie
  • Editing: Charles Simmons
  • Cinematography: Adolfo Bartoli
  • Studio: Full Moon Entertainment
  • Distributed:
    • Paramount Home Video
    • Full Moon Entertainment
  • Rated:
  • Release date:  27 July 1994
  • Running time: 76 minutes
  • Country: United States
  • Language: English

Lurking Fear is a 1994 horror film, very loosely based on the H. P. Lovecraft short story The Lurking Fear.  It was produced by Charles Band's Full Moon Entertainment and written and directed by C. Courtney Joyner.

The town of Lefferts Corners has been plagued by unearthly beings for decades, and now there is only a few persons left, including the local priest and a woman traumatized by the death of her sister.  Ex-con John Martense (Blake Bailey) returns to his childhood home of Lefferts Corner after serving time for a crime he didn't commit.  Martense visits family friend Knaggs (Vincent Schiavelli), a mortician who has been holding half of a map for him.  The map leads to a graveyard where Martense's father hid the money from his last heist.  Arriving at an abandoned church, Martense is confronted by Cathryn (Ashley Laurence), a young woman seeking revenge for the murder of her sister, and town doctor Dr. Haggis (Jeffrey Combs).  This group is quickly joined by a trio of criminals who are looking to find the money John's father stole from them.  What everyone is not aware of are the humanoid creatures lurking underneath the holy grounds.

Stuart Gordon was originally hoping to make this film for Band's Empire Pictures.  The film includes some in-jokes such as a car license plate on which the wording Arkham Imports appears.

One of the poorer Lovecraft adaptations yet, this film is only loosely based on Lovecraft’s “The Lurking Fear”.  Other than the town of Lefferts Corners and the presence of the degenerate Martense family, this film bears little resemblance to the original story.  Even the manic performance of Lovecraftian actor Jeffrey Combs (Re-Animator and From Beyond) and Hellraiser’s Ashley Laurence can’t save this terrible film.

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