Haunts (1976)

directed by herb freed
american general pictures/entertainment services international

An oddity, this number is mostly a small-town slice-of-life crime thriller until its misleading, byzantine conclusion. Apparently issued on DVD without restoration, it looks terrible, and I was amused to find out its washed-out palette was allegedly purposeful. Aldo Ray as the sheriff is believable in his role, but anything else that’s noteworthy here merely relates to the presentation of a time and a way of life that are both long gone. Its weary, lived-in 1970s feeling kept it interesting for longer than was probably warranted. By the time the goings-on start getting sorted out, they get tangled up again, and you will have lost your patience by this point, particularly with the main character. She’s being stalked! Or maybe she isn’t. The local Casanova is a rapist, perhaps worse! Or IS he. “Better not book him just yet, we got the killer cornered down at the sawmill,” one character telephones. But what of the local parson, the uncle, the goat? The ending, like much of the rest, is a muddle.

why did i watch this movie?

Well, it should have been entertaining.

should you watch this movie?

If you are fascinated by forgotten stars of yesteryear, the requisite also-rans and the never-weres, you may appreciate it.

highlight and low point

This feature flaunts a flashback format that is supposed to give its audience some insight into what is happening – presumably, anyway – but said flashbacks are too fragmented to supply much information. Furthermore, what little can be gleaned from them is more or less shunted aside by what is shown more directly, so nothing is gained. An amusing scene in the local watering hole serves little purpose in the story structure and stands out for that reason alone.

rating from outer space: C−

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