Lively, entertaining reviews of, and essays on, old and newer films and everything relating to them, written by professional author William Schoell.

Thursday, October 27, 2016

HAUNTS

Cameron Mitchell and May Britt
HAUNTS (1977). Director/co-writer: Bert Freed.

Ingrid (May Britt) lives in a small coastal farming community with her visiting Uncle Carl (Cameron Mitchell). Ingrid is a prim churchgoer who is haunted by the early deaths of her parents, and she is quite disturbed by the fact that a killer is on the loose, raping and murdering young women. The suspects include Uncle Karl; Frankie (William Gray Espy), the local butcher and lover boy; a stranger in town named Bill (Robert Hippard); even the sheriff (Aldo Ray). As the plot unravels, so do Ingrid's mind and memories ... Haunts is a very strange horror flick that tries to be successfully tricky and doesn't quite make it. There are hints of incest and child abuse, and an ending that may "shock" some people but will have most scratching their heads trying to figure it all out -- it isn't worth it. May Britt, one of the ex-wives of Sammy Davis Jr., gives a good performance, as does Aldo Ray [Let's Do It Again], although Cameron Mitchell [Garden of Evil] is a little off his game for this one. Espy is rather arresting in the role of the Casanova. as is Susan Nohr as bar girl, Nell. Pino Donaggio's [Carrie] score includes an attractive dirge for one of the characters. Haunts has been vastly over-praised, probably because of its interesting cast, atmospheric filming, and its ambiguity, but this script doesn't make the most of any of it.

Verdict: Watchable but disappointing psychological horror. **.

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