Tag Archives: Kim Hunter

The Kindred (1987)

By Richard Winters

My Rating: 3 out of 10

4-Word Review: Hybrid brother in basement.

On her deathbed genetics researcher Amanda Hollins (Kim Hunter) tells her son John (David Allen Brooks) to destroy her latest experiment as well as his ‘brother’ Anthony. John had no idea that he ever had a brother, but when he and some of his friends go to his mother’s home they find a monstrous being dwelling in the basement that proceeds to attack them.

The first part of this movie I actually liked as it thankfully manages to underplay things. The concept is certainly farfetched, but the filmmakers envelope it within a realm of believability, which kept me mildly intrigued. They also don’t show the monster right away and instead reveal only his tentacles sticking up through the floorboards, which allows the viewer to use their own imagination in trying to figure out what it is. This is something that a lot of modern horror films in their effort to impress audiences with the latest dazzling effects have lost and I wish they would go back to. Pulling back a little and letting the viewer create their own personal dark images to the horror is always more effective than having it spelled out for them with some overdone concoction.

The acting is surprisingly solid too especially for an ‘80s horror movie. The leads are bland, except for the beautiful Amanda Pays who plays her duplicitous role well, but they at least manage to convey their lines in a reasonably convincing fashion. It’s also nice to see screen veterans like Hunter in the cast, but she goes away too quickly. Rod Steiger is enjoyable as the evil doctor and I’m sure in his mind starring in these low budget things would have to seem like a major career downturn, but his intense eyes and expression are perfect for this type of material and his hideous wig is hilarious.

The climactic sequence though is a disappointment. The monster, once he does finally get revealed, reminded me too much of the creature in Alien, or just some giant bug. Watching the pesky little baby creatures dwelling in some lab jars was more effective although even here they started to become reminiscent to the Gremlins.

In either event the ‘horrific’ finale is too formulaic and redundant to be either exciting or interesting. I wanted the same minimalistic approach present at the beginning to have been retained in all the way through. Sometimes less is more, but unfortunately instead of walking away from this feeling like I had been treated to something new and original I felt more like I had been bombarded with the same-old tired clichéd crap that I had already seen a hundred times before.

My Rating: 3 out of 10

Released: January 9, 1987

Runtime: 1 Hour 28 Minutes

Rated R

Director: Jeffrey Obrow & Stephen Carpenter

Studio: FM Entertainment

Available: VHS (Upcoming DVD has been announced, but not yet released)

Dark August (1976)

dark august

By Richard Winters

My Rating: 3 out of 10

4-Word Review: Plagued by a curse.

            Sal DeVito (J.J. Barry) moves from New York City to a peaceful small town in Vermont in order to further his career as an illustrator and escape the stresses of big city life. Unfortunately he hits and kills a young girl (Karen Lewis) with his car when she runs out onto the street. Although he ends up being exonerated the girl’s grandfather (William Robertson) still holds him accountable and places a curse on him. The curse makes Sal see a strange hooded figure in the distance as well as suffering from mysterious blackouts. To help rid him of it he goes to see a popular psychic in town named Adrianna (Kim Hunter), but her services prove to not be the solution he thought.

Like with most low-budget 70’s horror films this one has a lot of slow parts and extended scenes with extraneous dialogue that goes nowhere. The scares are at a minimum and the few that it does have aren’t real frightening. The hooded figure that Sal keeps seeing in the distance has a creepy quality to it, but the film should have done more with it. There needed to be more action, more confrontations, and just plain more horror. Even a child could watch this and not be upset by it. There are no special effects and although the production is technically competent despite its low budget I found it hard even calling it a thriller or horror film since the suspense is light.

I loved the on-location shooting done in Stowe, Vermont. The woodsy landscapes and green countryside is gorgeous and I liked the scenery better than anything else in the picture, which is another problem. Filming scenes in the bright sunny daytime doesn’t help create a spooky feeling and there needed to be more done at nighttime. There is a very dark ominous cloud overhead during the scene involving the accident, but that is about it.

Barry whose acting career was brief and minor plays a stressed-out character effectively, but I could have done without seeing him lying nude in bed. There is also an extended scene showing the couple sleeping in bed from different angles, which seemed inane and unnecessary. Kim Hunter appears very late in the picture and really can’t do much to save it.

This is a film that deserves its place in obscurity and unfortunately has nothing to distinguish it or make it worth seeking out.

dark august 2

My Rating: 3 out of 10

Released: August 8, 1976

Runtime: 1Hour 27Minutes

Rated PG

Director: Martin Goldman

Studio: Howard Mahler Films

Available: VHS