Movies from the Black Lagoon

An NYC family moves to the country for some peace and quiet only to find out that both are in short supply in the town of Ashborough, New Hampshire in this horror yarn that premiered on “The Chiller Channel.”

Haunted house movies are okay but big city folks are much more frightened by country life . The 70’s were a prime period for small town terror flicks with “The Stepford Wives” and ” Lets Scare Jessica to Death” playing theatres while TV Movies like ‘Crowhaven Farm” and ” The Dark Secret of Harvest Home” scared those too nervous to leave the house.

This effort continues that trend by following a small family as they flee Manhattan for the quieter suburbs of New Hampshire-big mistake this is the same region that birthed H.P. Lovecraft. The Cayles should know from the minute they arrive that they are in trouble. Daddy, and new town doctor, is barely out of the car when his daughter pukes on his shoes driving him backwards where he steps on a rusty nail.

They are rescued by a new neighbor, Deighton. He brings them to his home for lunch and emergency medical treatment. While tending the wound Cayle bumps into Mrs. Deighton. It was explained that she has cancer it’s obvious she was actually mauled by a wild animal and has the scars to prove it. Dad makes a quick excuse and rushes them off to unpack but the weirdness is only just beginning.

Turns out this small town has some odd customs. They have a heavily enforced 8pm curfew, no televisions, and the story goes that the former doctor didn’t quit so much as perish after being viciously attacked by a wild animal. The next day a delivery arrives for the old physician and it is a weird one. One box containing samples of every deadly disease known to man.

Cayle is not happy and things only get worse when Deighton leads him to a stone altar in the woods . He has a story to tell as well. The town is also home to an indigenous group known as the “isolates.” These unsociable night crawlers have everyone under their thumb and demand an animal sacrifice on the altar. Since Cayle is the new guy it’s up to him to provide it but e he scoffs at the story.

Now he has upset the locals. His waiting room becomes an empty vessel and his car suddenly breaks down. Worse his wife announces she is pregnant but wants o be cared for by the local Midwife, Zellis, instead of her Doctor husband. Then there are the yellow eyes that appear in the woods whenever the sun goes down as well as the tell tale signs that their home is receiving nocturnal visitors.

Cayle learns that the “Isolates” are all too real when they break in and drag him to their subterranean lair to treat an expected ghoul, mother. He finds out that these critters have tunnels all through the town and can hear you speaking almost anywhere. Worse they have a human caregiver/traitor amongst the citizenry. She is also the matriarch who everyone listens too, especially Mrs. Cayle. What will the doctor do?

This is a winner . The fear of small town life is exploited well . The story comes from a decent novel, by Michael Laimo, and it is obvious that the makers of the film actually read it. The cast is game with mostly new faces but look for Blanch Baker in a sinister turn as Zellis while screen veteran Dean Stockwell offers sympathy as Deighton.

The story ends with a shocker of a reveal but that is nothing compared to the sinister plan that Cayle hatches to save his family. The ‘Isolates” are well renders and comes off as a cross between the cave beats from “The Descent” if they were bred with Neanderthals. Chills a plenty .

Best Line: ” She’s not stressed. She’s eight.”

Side Note: Dean Stockwell will also be venturing out into the Lagoon when he appears at this year’s Mid Atlantic Nostalgia Convention. He will be sitting down with yours truly as well as three Hammer Film Heroines for a chat session on Thursday ,September 17th. Come on out and see the Lagoon go live.

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