Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Haunts (1977)

I need to thank Lars Jacobsson for tweeting about this movie, because if he didn't I wouldn't have hard about it and I would have reviewed yet another SyFy production that no one of you care about anyway! Haunts is directed by c-director (and former Rabbi!) Herb Freed, the maestro behind such classics as Graduation Day and Beyond Evil. He directed a couple of hundred TV-commercials before becoming a movie director and his second feature was this very interesting super-cheap thriller set far out in the American countryside...

May Britt Wilkens, the Swedish blonde Rat Pack-nymph who got her first start in Carlo Ponti's AND Dino De Laurentiis Le infedeli in 1953, plays Ingrid Svensson, a deeply religious woman living on an old farm who earlier belonged to her parents. Her only relative nearby is Uncle Carl (Cameron Mitchell) and the rest of the time she spends in church or taking care of her goats. One night a woman gets brutally killed by a masked man (wearing black gloves) and soon everyone is getting more and more paranoid. Who is the killer? The unknown psychopath is also starting to following and attacking Ingrid, and she gets closer to a nervous breakdown...

Haunts might be cheap, very cheap, and terribly slow - but this is actually a very ambitious, giallo-esque backwoods-thriller with a very fine cast. I've never been fond of these local productions, but Haunts stays away from the usual Bigfoots and monsters and goes directly for a complex psycho-thriller that gives the audience more than one twist. I'm surprised, because the directing by Freed is intelligent and arty with a wonderful score by the one and only Pino Donaggio (who the hell did they get him?!). The script, co-written by his wife Anne Marisse, is not that simple - but it's possible to connect all the dots even after the very haunting and cryptic ending.

Aldo Ray and Cameron Mitchell is two of the old farts giving Haunts some respectability, and both are doing it very well. They both starred in countless oddities over the years, most of the time probably just so they could pay the rent, but here both of them are low-key and uses a very realistic style of acting which tells me they probably cared more about this movie than some of the other stuff they did. But May Britt is the lead and with her strong Swedish accent (I'm not sure if that's her real accent or if she made it stronger for the performance) gives a lot of credibility to the story and she carries most of it by herself.

Don't expect any gore or sleaze, just expect a good and cheap horror/thriller with a script more clever than you can imagine.

Haunts is only released in shoddy, crappy releases, which is a pity. It deserves better, at least to make give more people a chance to see it. I have an Italian release with both English and Italian soundtrack, but the quality isn't much better than those 50 movies in one box that floods the net. But still, this is a movie worth watching - and when you've seen it, please come back to me and discuss the ending!


raculfright_13 said...

That ending is so wild. I love it.

Anonymous said...

Former rabbi..?

Odd...just like Scorsese, who wanted to be a priest once.

I wouldn´t mind a SyFy review...just saying.

Another swedish girl doing horror....any nudity Ninja?

Ninja Dixon said...

I love SyFy movies, but there's often not much to write about them. We'll see :)

Nudity? Not really. I can't remember anything. It's a cheap but quite classy little movie.