Tag: Summer of Fear
A lesser seen early Wes Craven number shows all the creative style and essence which is signature to Craven’s movies. On a first look, this is a situation drama, made for TV. Solid filming with great strong characters and a story which works well for the mainstream and a low budget. This is the very beginning of Craven’s rational mainstream encounter, embracing a new audience in an attempt to win over the studios, gain higher budgets and calm his brutal reputation as the master of horror after his initial ‘Last House’ and Hills Have Eyes’. Following these two films is no easy challenge and it’s easy to see why this film would be dismissed as it could be seen as selling out.
Rachel (Linda Blair) is a young privileged teenager, whose nose is put out of place by her beautiful cousin, Julie (Lee Purcell), coming to stay. She soon suspects her cousin is in cahoots with the devil, dabbling with the occult.
Is his the moment of Craven’s enlightening of a bigger audience? Again, we have all the signs of the masterpiece he is aiming for, although restrained here with budget and rating. Linda Blair is the master stroke here; with real screen presence she ignites the screen with charisma and charm and a brilliant natural ability. The role Blair takes is the usual Craven focus, being girl next door type seen over and over in his films. Scream, Elm Street, Blessing. Even his other films show strong female leads, Friend, Hills, Last House etc, but here, Blair leads the way for the role of Sidney and Nancy in later films.
Apart from this strong historic documentation, what else does Summer of Fear have to offer? Blair is outstanding with hair which is mesmerising, but acting ability which really has been wasted since. She’s so natural and that’s the films winning point. The plot is interesting and the pace works well with the subject. Purcell is great in the role of the cousin and when she does turn into super witch, she’s amazing, but the rest of the cast are an obvious TV collective which Craven inspires into a better than average performance. There are some beautiful scenes, and camera shots which express Craven’s ability and show an eagerness to capture an emotion and create a film far more ambitious that production allows.