Run Stranger Run (1973)

aka Happy Mother’s Day, Love George
Article 3238 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing Date: 5-1-2010
Posting Date: 6-26-2010
Directed by Darren McGavin
Featuring Patricia Neal, Cloris Leachman, Bobby Darin
Country: USA
What it is: Drama with mystery and horror elements

A teenage boy arrives at a small New England fishing village with the intent of tracking down his true parents. The village has also been the sight of the recent disappearance of several residents. These two events are not entirely unrelated…

This is one of the very few directorial credits of Darren McGavin, famous among fans of fantastic cinema and TV for having played Carl Kolchak in THE NIGHT STALKER, its sequel, and the subsequent TV series. He does a good job here; he assembles an excellent cast, including Cloris Leachman, Ron Howard (as the teenage boy), Patricia Neal, Bobby Darin (in his last role), Kolchak co-star Simon Oakland (in what would turn out to be his last theatrical film role, though he would continue to work in television for some time yet) and newcomer Tessa Dahl. Its reputation is understandably uneven; though it is a horror film of sorts, it doesn’t play by the same set of rules as horror films usually do, and this can easily alienate certain viewers. Anyone expecting bloody mayhem from the start will be very disappointed. It’s structured more like a mystery; we meet the various characters, and piece together the facts to get a complete picture of the situation. There are only a handful of hints of the horror content for the first three-quarters of the movie. Ultimately, I found the story and the ultimate revelations satisfying enough to compensate for the slowness, but your mileage may vary. Still, you probably won’t have to work too hard to figure out the identity of the killer, and if you’re alert enough, you should be able to sort out the boy’s parentage before it is revealed.


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