Movies From the Black Lagoon: Warlock Moon- 1975, Unrated

Movies From the Black Lagoon
Warlock Moon- 1975, Unrated

Two free spirited hippies find that things aren't so groovy at an abandoned health spa in this atmospheric chiller that should appeal to fans of 70's Drive-In Cinema.
This one opens with a great bit that finds a young couple exploring the deserted health spa. The male disappears leaving the female to call out his name and demand that he not pop out of the dark and try to scare her. Sure enough a male does pop out of the dark but he's not her boyfriend and that axe he's wielding is not a prop. The next scene goes in another direction as we meet a Berkley Art student named Jenny. She is a real dish too and rocks a pair of red bell bottoms and comes complete with a nerdish stalker who is wearing one of those fake nose and glasses get-ups that make for great party favors - if the average partier is about ten years old.
He introduces himself as John Devers and, somehow, charms Jenny into a picnic lunch. They get lost on the way back to campus but they stumble across the Soda Spring Spa and decide to investigate the site. Things get creepy as they are split up and Jenny runs into the site's elderly caretaker, Agnes. She's obviously lonely and offers the pair a complete tour. She points out that the place was known for its hot springs and mineral water but fails to note that it was closed after a young bride was killed, filleted, and served up to paying guests by a psychotic chef. Jenny learns this fact later when she runs into a hunter who shoots quail on the grounds but doesn't place much stock in the legend.
Jenny makes the mistake of ignoring her inner voice and going back to the spa for a date with John who is anxious to make his bones as a reporter and hopes to use a story on the site to open some journalistic doors. Said date goes poorly with Agnes preparing a mystery meat she calls Hunter's Stew before trying to spike Jenny's wine. Jenny avoids the mickey but she's in for a long night and a few shocking revelations about John, satanic rites, and the true nature of little old ladies who hide out at abandoned spas.
This one works due to its decidedly creepy setting and good performances by the leads who both went on to star in popular television series. Laurie Walters (Eight is Enough) anchors the film as Jenny and manages to be funny, scared, and resilient in equal measures. Joe Spano (Hill Street Blues) also gives this his best effort in the tricky role of John who has to be quirky, persuasive, and, in the end, a total whack job. The pair work well together and pull off one of the film's better scenes when they role-play a monster movie scene in a drained pool.
The only drawback here is a trim budget that only allowed for one or two takes of each scene, which results in several moments where actors flub their lines.
That said the director compensates by using camera gimmicks such as freeze frames and false scares to good effect. The DVD also features an introduction by drive-in guru Joe Bob Briggs who mentions that Tobe Hooper feared that this film would eclipse his classic "Texas Chainsaw Massacre", which was set to open two months after this was released into theaters.
Stick around for the end credits to learn Jenny's final fate - it's a corker.
Best Line: "Thank you for everything and for not shooting me."

Tom Doty occasionally emerges from the Lagoon to check his e-mail. If you'd like to get a message to him, write to: dotyfox@pennswoods.net.