Saturday, September 3, 2011

Haunted (1977)

The Native American curse is something familiar in horror. From the Indian burial ground ("Pet Cemetery", "Poltergeist") to the wronged Native American man (Fred Olen Rey's "Scalps" to the abominable horror-comedy "Thankskilling"), this sub-genre can play with two things: white racial fears or white liberal guilt. Well, what if a movie doesn't really do either? The answer: Michael A. DeGaetano's little known and generically named "Haunted."

During the Civil War, Apache girl Abanaki (Ann Williams) is sentenced to death for stealing a soldier named Andrew's (Aldo Ray) horse for witchery and for discovering some unsavory truth's about Andy and a Priest wanting gold. Cut to today (well, 70's present day), where Jennifer Baines' (Williams again) car breaks down, and she ends up in the Apacheland Movie Ranch-built where the old town was. The next thing you know, the descendants of those that sentenced Abanaki are dying...

Apart from a fine score by Lor Crane, "Haunted" is the kind of 70's horror movie that's mostly forgotten for very good reason. It's a pretty dull affair, with little of the death or events taking place feeling particularly suspenseful or interesting, and the plot pretty much the same thing you've had to deal with many times in past. There's also a really bad song called "Indian Woman" in the title sequence fits alongside other terrible songs featured in 70's horror, some pretty poor pacing, endless scenes of dialogue delivered with no conviction whatsoever, and a curse that's ultimately lame. The scariest thing here is Aldo Ray without a shirt on.

The biggest problem with the movie, is that it doesn't seem to know what kind of movie it wants to be. Is this a supernatural revenge tale? A western melodrama with female nudity? a tale of romance? Who is this movie supposed to appeal to? You're left not knowing the answer to any of this, as it just leaves all kinds of plot details and ideas hanging without being realized.

"Haunted" is nothing more than a dire viewing experience, with hardly anything to recommend or compliment. It's a movie that just doesn't go anywhere, and left me thinking that I could be watching something else instead of wasting my time with this.

Rating: 1.5/10

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