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The Curator of Schlock #108 by Jeff Shuster

Summer of Fear

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Wes Craven Appreciation Month continues here at The Museum of Schlock with a made-for-TV movie entitled The Summer of Fear! The movie was also known as Stranger in Our House. I like the first title better because it’s less confusing. I mean are they saying there’s a stranger in our house or are they saying our house is stranger, or maybe our house is stranger because there’s a stranger in our house?

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See The Summer of Fear is a much better title except that I’m reviewing this movie in the fall, but I save the super scary movies for October. I’ll be doing a retrospective month the Summer Movies of 2001 this summer so you can be afraid of that.

Summer of Fear is a 1978 made-for-TV starring Linda Blair. Wes Craven must have directed this hot on the heels of The Hills Have Eyes. It aired on NBC on October 31st, but lost the ratings war to Devil Dog: The Hound of Hell on CBS.

This begs the question as to why the 1970s so awesome and why can’t we get made-for-TV movies about devils dogs anymore?

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We don’t get devil dogs in Summer of Fear, but there’s enough devil-worshiping nonsense going on to make it worth your while. The movie starts out with a car about to going off of cliff while this creepy woman with blood red eyes pops in and out of view.

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Cue Linda Blair as Rachel Bryant waking up from a “What the hell was that?” dream. Turns out the dream was a kind of premonition. Her aunt and uncle get killed in a car wreck along with their housekeeper. Their daughter Julia wasn’t in the car so she moves in with the Bryants.

The Bryants own this fancy horse ranch and, frankly, they’re little well to do. This comes as kind of a shock to Julia considering she’s from the Ozarks. In fact, Julia keeps insisting that it’s not like she was born there. Hey, coming from the Ozarks is nothing to be ashamed of!

So what if the “hill people” eat squirrel. You’d probably like it to if you just tried it. The “hill people” are also very superstitious in that they practice black magic and move into stranger’s houses in order to ruin the life of poor Linda Blair by making her family turn on her, putting a hex on her favorite horse, covering her with measles, and stealing her boyfriend!

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Did I mention that Fran Drescher was in this movie? She doesn’t laugh once, so I guess we can be grateful for that. The actor who played the young Clark Kent in Superman: the Movie is also present, but he’s got some kind of Brady Bunch perm going on. This made-for-TV movie was released theatrically in Europe.

Suckers!

I have a craving for Devil Dogs now.

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Five Things I Learned from Summer of Fear

  1. Linda Blair is good in anything.
  2.  “Hill People” are bad news especially when they’re trying to seduce your dad. Ewwwwww!
  3. If you find a human tooth in someone’s suitcase, best to plan for a stake burning in the near future.
  4. Never get into a car chase with a witch cuz she’ll like take control of your car and send you crashing over a cliff.
  5.  ’70s made-for-TV movies ain’t half bad.

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Photo by Leslie Salas

Photo by Leslie Salas

Jeffrey Shuster (episode 47episode 102episode 124, and episode 131) is an MFA candidate at the University of Central Florida.

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