Monday, February 13, 2017

Haunted (1977)

          Time for another so-bad-it’s-good wonderment. The misguided horror picture Haunted begins in the Old West, when corrupt palefaces sentence a Native American woman to death on charges of witchcraft. A century later, a weird family resides in a ghost town. Leading the family is loutish stepfather Andrew (Aldo Ray). He’s married to Michelle (Virginia Mayo), a blind widower who spends her time playing the same song over and over again on an organthat is, whenever she’s not vividly describing memories of the first time she had sex. Even though she’s only in her 50s, she’s portrayed as suffering from dementia, a source of great sadness for her two young-adult sons. Meanwhile, the phone company inexplicably installs a phone booth in the cemetery occupying the center of the ghost town. Andrew gets calls on this phone that transform him into a psychopath. Eventually, a mysterious redhead named Jennifer (Anne Michelle) wanders into town, and she may or may not be the reincarnation of the Native American witch from the prologue. Strange and unpleasant things happen, but life, more or less, goes on—Michelle’s sons proceed with plans to put her in an asylum, and her oldest son enjoys a sudden romance with Jennifer. Sort of. When he falters during a makeout session, she asks if he’s gay and he says he’s not sure.
          Virtually nothing in Haunted makes sense, but the movie is so catastrophically bad that it’s compelling to watch. For instance, the opening-credits scene features the Native American woman riding topless through the desert while Billy Vera over-emphatically sings the ridiculous song “Indian Woman” on the soundtrack (“She rides the waves of the curse she lives! Her hate keeps her going! She’ll never forgive!”). Throughout the movie, writer-director Michael A. DeGaetano’s dialogue is awkward, stilted, and weird, so the chatter regularly slips into self-parody. Upon Jennifer’s arrival, Michelle remarks, “We haven’t had any visitors since yesterday—it’s been years!” Even though the film’s production values are borderline adequate, nearly every scene has a massive flaw in continuity, dramaturgy, logic, or storytelling, if not all of the above. The music is especially egregious, with upbeat numbers during gruesome scenes and laughably rotten lyrics decorating original songs. (Brace yourself for the picture’s noxious love theme, “A Distant Time.”) Unsurprisingly, Haunted is a washout in terms of horror, because it’s too difficult to follow what’s happening to actually find any of the onscreen events frightening.

Haunted: LAME

1 comment:

Guy Callaway said...

Remember seeing the soundtrack LP in cutout bins.