"Don't Look in the Basement!"
An ultra low-budget film with a decidedly retro "Backwoods USA Independent" feel (and believe me that's a compliment), ECHOES OF FEAR (even that title feels 1970s) is getting a Digital and DVD release courtesy of Second Sight after receiving its UK premiere earlier this year at Southend's annual Horror On Sea festival.
Alisa (Trista Robinson) inherits the house of her grandfather (Norman Zeller) after he dies in the shower. She moves in with boyfriend Brandon (Paul Chirico) with plans for selling it. But all is not well in the house. Alisa hears strange sounds in the night including the meowing of a cat, and pretty soon she's seeing things too. As the ghostly apparitions worsen, the discovery of a dead cat buried in the basement is just the beginning of a series of shocking revelations about the history of the house she is living in.
ECHOES OF FEAR is obviously very low budget, and for the first half an hour it feels like an attempt to do a haunted house movie with almost zero resources. That said, as we approach the end of the first act there are some decent scares that suggest directors Brian and Laurence Avenet-Bradley know their Japanese horror cinema and their Mario Bava as well - there's a splendid shock moment that emulates a scene in one of the Italian master's later films.
Where the film really earns its points, though, is in the final act, when the film becomes the kind of grim, grainy, sweaty gothic of the kind Texan director S F Brownrigg used to make, like 1977's KEEP MY GRAVE OPEN or (as I've alluded to up there) his classic 1973 DON'T LOOK IN THE BASEMENT. In fact if ECHOES OF FEAR had been made in the early 1970s and shot on 16mm I don't doubt that now it would be lauded as a lost minor classic. It's unlikely to receive such accolades today, but ECHOES OF FEAR is certainly going to warm the heart of any fan of the golden era of low budget US exploitation to know that movies like this, made with no money but plenty of ambition and an obvious knowledge of the genre, are still out there to be discovered.
ECHOES OF FEAR is out from Second Sight on digital download on Monday 20th July 2020 and DVD on
Monday 3rd August 2020