Summer of Fear (1978)

aka Stranger in Our House
Article 4672 by Dave Sindelar
Date: 11-5-2014
Directed by Wes Craven
Featuring Linda Blair, Lee Purcell, Jeremy Slate
Country: USA
What it is: Tale of the supernatural

A family takes in their cousin after her parents die in an automobile accident. Though she seems shy and unassuming at first, she begins to supplant the daughter of the family in terms of the affection of those around her. The daughter begins to find evidence that the cousin may be a witch.

This TV horror movie was based on a young adult novel, and I’d say that explains to me why so much of the movie seems to revolve around teenage women competing with each other. That is also the reason the movie becomes very tiresome to me as well; though on the surface I can see how the characters are fighting for things that are quite important to them, the way they express themselves often makes me feel that they’re being selfish and petty. There’s also part of me that feels this movie might have worked better if there was more of an ambiguous, Lewtonesque feel to it; it seems to be trying for that at times, but there are other times when it seems blatantly obvious. I also don’t care for the end of the movie where it becomes a full-blown horror film; at that point, it starts feeling silly, especially when I see those red-eyed contact lenses used by the witch. In the end, I just didn’t care for this one, yet I do feel there are moments when it feels authentic, sad, and quite real. In short, I don’t think the movie works, and I rather wish it did; I think there was something promising here.


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