Haunts (1977)

“There’s a maniac loose out there — and in times like these, we ought to keep an eye out for one another.”

Haunts Poster

Synopsis:
A highly religious, sexually repressed woman (May Britt) who lives on a farm with her uncle (Cameron Mitchell) fears for her life when several local girls are raped and killed.

Genres:

Review:
Herb Freed’s unusual psycho-sexual thriller starts out strong but ends on a confusing whimper. For the first 45 minutes or so, things look promising: a series of well-edited flashbacks to Britt’s childhood (she’s a complex character) provide some intrigue, and we’re kept in suspense about the identity of the killer. Unfortunately, the screenplay’s logic eventually falls apart, and by the final sequences — when we’re finally told the (convoluted) back story of what’s come before — we’ve given up caring. Although Britt isn’t a great actress, she manages to effectively portray her character’s paranoia, and it’s wonderful to see Aldo Ray in a bit role; others, however, don’t fare nearly so well, and aren’t helped by the sloppy script.

Redeeming Qualities and Moments:

  • Effective editing, particularly in the opening shots
    Editing
  • Aldo Ray in a too-small role as a tippling sheriff who’s concerned about Britt
    Ray

Must See?
No. Though this is listed as a Sleeper in the back of Peary’s book, it’s not really worth seeking out.

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One Response to “Haunts (1977)”

  1. Not a must. In agreement with the assessment here.

    The film is pretty flimsy in set-up and execution – if you will – but, if it’s ultimately insignificant, it’s not boring. It is, however, confusing as hell, seemingly intentionally so; are we meant to be left wondering who exactly the killer was?, cause I don’t think I could tell you after a single viewing.

    Britt, Mitchell and (particularly) Ray (in a part not really that small, and one which he handles with quiet authority) keep things reasonably interesting.

    But if anyone is really giving his all here, it’s composer Pino Donaggio – following up his score for De Palma’s ‘Carrie’ with one that gives ‘Haunts’ much-needed class.

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