Monday, April 21, 2008

"Summer of Fear" Review

It's been #1 in my NetFlix queue for about three weeks - with the message "Very Long Wait". But finally, on Friday, the film "Summer of Fear" showed up in the mailbox.

In 7th Grade English, we read the book "Summer of Fear" by Lois Duncan. She's the same author who is responsible for "I Know What You Did Last Summer" - although the film is NOTHING like the book. That's not true with "Summer of Fear". The film is a REALLY good adaptation of the book. Oddly, I didn't even know this film existed until about 3 years ago. I was perusing the DVD Section of Borders around Halloween, and they had a larger number of Horror films available, and I noticed the title. So, I picked up the DVD and looked more closely and saw that it was directed by Wes Craven. I wanted it, but for whatever reason, I didn't purchase it that day. Over these past three years, I gradually noticed the DVD more and more often, I think Best Buy in Castleton carries the flick now. But, I never purchased it. And on one level, I'm glad I never did.

The flick showed up Friday around 1pm, and I instantly popped it into the DVD Player, so I could watch it before I had to go to work. As I previously stated, the flick was a REALLY good adaptation of the book. Even after I read it for school, I probably read the book another 4 or 5 times, because I really liked it. My brother eventually read it and enjoyed it also. Sadly, the film just feels long, slow, and drawn out. Now, I attempt to take into account that the film was made in 1978, and that it was Made For Television. But, I still think they could have done more with the film. Honestly, while I was watching it - I was thinking that I wish this film would get re-made. I know I'm usually anti-remakes, but I think this one could be done a little bit better. Lee Purcell, who plays the cousin who loses her parents in a car accident, just looks too old for her character. I'm pretty sure that in the book the two main female leads were both teenagers. In this film, they have Julia (the cousin) looking and acting like she's in her early 20s, and not a high schooler. But, perhaps that's the way teenagers behaved in the late 70s, but I don't think so, since it's nothing like the teenagers in "Halloween". Again, just another reason why I believe this film could be re-made and actually improved on. The tension and drama were done pretty well, and the characters were well written to build the tension between the characters as the story advanced.

I don't know if its the genre that's changed, or if it's Wes Craven's directing style, but I'm learning that I'm not a huge fan of the directing in his early works. I really like "Last House on the Left" for its story and for its shocking ending, but the last time I watched the film, I really realized that it's not that good "looking" of a film. It's a little boring and a little simple in its artistic style. The same goes for "The Serpent and the Rainbow" a film that I hunted down the VHS tape in 1999 to watch - and was very disappointed in how much anti-climactic drama there was in the film.

I'm glad that I've seen the film. But, I'm more glad that I waited to get it via NetFlix, and not paid for the DVD, that I probably would only consider watching around Halloween every year, and only if I was hanging out with someone else who was interested in watching it. I think it's worth one viewing just because it is a pretty interesting story. But, rent it - don't buy it!

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