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A SIERRA NEVADA
(MICHAEL MADSEN & JOHN SAVAGE).
Back in 1986, this movie came out starring two Oscar winning actors whose careers were not on the skids. Why they chose to act in this little movie is any one's guess. On the other hand, screen veteran Rory Calhoun had made quite a new name for himself just a few years earlier with his indie release of MOTEL HELL, which became a surprise hit. Hit status never befell THE KINDRED, despite the star power. That said, THE KINDRED is a low budget flick and the kind of B-Grade movie that just captures my heart.
THE KINDRED is also a lost gem these days. A made for cable movie*, it is difficult to find as a rental let alone new. Don't be looking for this one on DVD anytime soon.
THE KINDRED starts out wild enough: a car crash and a fiery explosion at night! The accident victim, barely hanging onto life, is secretly sold right out of the ambulance that was supposed to take him to the hospital. The victim is instead brought to Dr. Phillip Lloyd (Oscar winning actor Rod Steiger: THE AMITYVILLE HORROR, MARS ATTACKS!, END OF DAYS).
When we first see Dr. Lloyd, he is rummaging through the organs of a live skinned animal, totally indifferent to the small creature's cries of pain. From this we naturally infer that Dr. Lloyd is not a kindly man. Rod Steiger is an incredible actor who plays brooding evil and human goodness with equal aplomb. Once you've seen him in one role, it is hard to imagine him acting any other way, then when you see an opposite role, you get spun around again. I've watched Mr. Stieger in good and bad movies, but he has always been one of the highlights of all his flicks.
David Allan Brooks (SCREAM FOR HELP, MANHUNTER, JACK FROST 2) plays the innocent to a fault Dr. John Hollins. While busy pursuing his Ph.d, his famous Mother Dr. Amanda Hollins (Oscar winning actress Kim Hunter: PLANET OF THE APES, BENEATH THE PLANET OF THE APES, ESCAPE FROM THE PLANET OF THE APES) has been in a coma of undetermined time following that nasty car accident. She comes out of it with some bad news: an experiment she left running at the house has been going on this whole time without her. What she has done is far worse than leaving the water running or the stove on. Her son John must go to the house and burn everything there, don't leave anything alive.~
Despite the orders from Ma, young Hollins can't help but try and discover what his old Mater was up to first, before destroying her work. So he decides to make a weekend of it and invites his underlings along to the beach house. They turn on the power and Merry Mishaps ensue.
As good a story as this is, it frequently suffers from continuity. Several times in the movie, the house runs out of power and gets blacked out. Yet the folks can still use other electrical appliances While Everybody Is Waiting For the Lights To Come Back On! It gets laughable by the second time, and embarrassing by the third. There is one scene in particular where Dr. John Hollins has one of his people go see if they can get the power back on. Meanwhile he just stays behind and looks through his electrically powered microscope!
This movie has a few other recognizable names, most notably Amanda Pays (MAX HEADROOM, LEVIATHAN) as the overly suspicious acting Melissa Leftridge. Timothy Gibbs (WITCHBOARD II) as Hart Phillips, and Talia Balsam (CRAWLSPACE) as Sharon Raymond, Dr. John Hollins' Fiance.
Loosely based on the H.P. Lovecraft inspired story by August Derleth, the dual Writing and Directing Team of Stephen Carpenter (THE DORM THAT DRIPPED BLOOD, SOUL SURVIVORS) and Jeffrey Obrow (THE DORM THAT DRIPPED BLOOD, LEGEND OF THE MUMMY) went their seperate ways after their mutual 1991 disaster of Dean Koontz: SERVANTS OF TWILIGHT in 1991. But for all of its missteps, THE KINDRED is an engrossing, horrific, cool little Horror movie.
THE KINDRED provides a few nice chills, grossly intense scenes that may turn some heads away from the screen.
At any rate, if you are new to the world of horror and you are looking for a couple of little "get started into Horror" movies, I recommend THE KINDRED.
Three Shriek Girls.
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