regional horror

Wicked Wednesday: Fiend (1980)

I love and appreciate regional horror. These movies, which are not made in Hollywood, are often filled with local character and crew. Think the Bill Rebanes and George A Romeros of the world.

Fiend very much fits into that mould. Director, writer and star Don Dohler is obviously from (and clearly loves) Maryland. There are plenty of title cards to let us know where in Maryland we are. All the radio news announcements keep mentioning places in Maryland. I learned more about Maryland from this movie than I did when we studied in the 50 states in 5th grade.

The premise is very straight-forward: an alien entity lands on earth and resurrects the body of a music teacher Eric Longfellow. He rises from his grave and needs to suck the life out of people in order to survive.

He moves into (and by moves, I mean just takes down the “for sale” sign) a home in a Maryland suburb. With his arrival, murders – all in the same fashion – begin to be reported in the area. And Longfellow’s neighbour macho Gary Kender is very suspicious.

For one, the guy plays music. For a living! And second, he was home the day a young child was murdered. So he must have seen something – no matter what he’s told the police.

The logic is not very sound, but neither is Gary Kender’s head, to be fair. But of course he’s right anyway. Even if he isn’t the best of heroes to root for.

There are plenty of rituals, stranglings, odd characters and synth music to fill the 90 minute running time.

Fiend is definitely a small movie with a small budget. But there is plenty to really like about it. It’s full of quirks, like the red glow that surrounds Longfellow when he gets murdered. There are even a couple of plot holes thrown in for fun. Though it’s also got a consistent atmosphere that helps it be a successful film. It’s maybe not the best film technically but it’s clearly been made with a lot of heart and enthusiasm.

Regional horror is pretty much dead these days, but it’s nice to revisit works from people as passionate about their corner of the world as Dohler clearly was.