After escaping Pazuzu’s evil clutches, Linda Blair went the horror trash route in movies such as Grotesque (blog here) and Witchery (blog here). She also took on a witch, a deformed psycho killer, and zombies!
SUMMER OF FEAR (aka: Stranger in Our House) (1978)
Here’s a film I loved as a kid. Directed by Wes Craven for television (!), it’s a movie adaptation of a teen suspense novel by Lois Duncan, author of the original novel on which I Know What You Did Last Summer was based. And there’s even an early appearance by fricking Fran Drescher!
The plot is pretty common these days. A stranger is introduced into a family home and everyone just adores her…expect for one person who knows she’s a crazy bitch from hell! This time, it’s Linda who is pretty sure her recently orphaned cousin Julia is a witch.
Typical G-rated suspicious shit happens throughout the film, including the discovery of a sort of voodoo doll, but most disturbing is the constant references to Linda’s brother being hot for Julia. It’s a relief when, way too late in the film, he finally barks, “She’s my cousin!”
Eventually, Linda makes the dumb ass mistake of threatening to expose her cousin Julia—and telling her exactly how—which makes matters worse. The thrilling finale begins in a darkroom. This scene delivers a jump scare that made me and my mom scream back in the day. The witch gets awesome demon eyes and then we’re treated to a laugh-inducing car chase on a mountain road.
HELL NIGHT (1981)
Hell Night is a classic 80s slasher that mixes in fun elements of old school gothic haunted house movies. Linda, another chick, Peter Barton (Friday the 13th Part 4) and Vincent Van Patten (the bionic boy!) are locked in an old mansion on pledge night. They simply have to stay inside for the whole night.
Of course, the frat boys tell them stories of deformed children born there years before. And naturally, the frat boys have dirty tricks planned to scare the hell out of the pledges. But, as fake screams and ghastly holograms terrorize the pledges, the frat boys begin getting murdered by a monster with some very sharp weapons!
The atmosphere, the kills, the freaky monster, Vincent Van Patten running around in his boxers, and Linda in a final girl chase make Hell Night early 80s slasher perfection.
THE CHILLING (1989)
The Chilling looks like a rejected Return of the Living Dead sequel. It sort of has the same feel, but it’s even more ridiculous.
A guy robs a bank and is shot. So his father has him sent to a cryogenic lab to be frozen (go to your cryogenic container and think about what you’ve done?). Linda works at the lab and accompanies the man to see his son’s body on Halloween night. In the process, Linda suspects the doctor at the lab, played by fricking Troy Donahue, is up to no good—an extremely pointless subplot.
A bad rainstorm hits and the electricity goes out. Dan Haggerty (aka: Grizzly Adams), playing a security guard, decides to move all the body containers outside so they won’t defrost. Conveniently, lightning pretty much hits all the containers simultaneously, releasing frozen bodies that now look like some sort of alien fish creatures in spacesuits.
After a boring start, the movie gets low-budget creature feature zombie movie fun. Dan Haggerty steals the show and there’s plenty of fog, darkness, and shadows to amp up the creepy atmosphere. But random, absurd subplots abound, including the arrival of Linda’s abusive boyfriend. To clarify just how cheesy this one is, it ends with a “where are they now” segment.