Directed by Laurence Harvey [Other horror films: N/A]
I didn’t really know anything about what to expect going into Welcome to Arrow Beach, and now that I’ve seen it, I’m having somewhat of a difficult time deciding how I feel. On the one hand, the film is a bit slow, and I don’t know if the three-minute finale makes up for the sluggish nature of the first hour and a half. On the other, I did sort of dig the story and what they were going for.
Honestly, it reminded me a bit of two other films from the first half of the 1970’s, being Terror House and Warlock Moon. Both were a bit slow, both possessed a very 70’s free vibe, and both dealt with young women getting into a situation that’s not easy to escape from, if escape even is possible. Welcome to Arrow Beach fits that perfectly.
The story is simple enough – a hitch-hiking young woman stays over at someone’s beachside house, and finds out that the owner isn’t the most pleasant individual. But when she escapes and tells the police, because she’s a free-love hippie type, credibility isn’t her high point (it doesn’t help that drugs are planted on her). And after a few more things happen, and she decides to go back to the house to get some proof.
Really, for as much time is spent on somewhat tedious scenes (for instance, Stuart Whitman as the deputy is beginning to believe the hippie girl’s story, but that subplot never goes anywhere), I shouldn’t feel as defensive as I do about the film. There’s only three action-packed sequences, and while they’re all good, I don’t know if it’s enough.
Meg Foster did a great job as the main character. Foster (The Legend of Sleepy Hollow, The Wind, They Live, Stepfather II, and The Lords of Salem) really has that free-love spirit I associate with the hippie subculture, and her referring to her breasts as “secondary sexual characteristics” pegged her for an amusing sort. This film is pretty early in her career, and I think for a younger actress she did really well here.
Laurence Harvey (who died in late 1973, and also appeared in Night Watch) played a cool cat out to make a killing (for any fans of the DC comic book series The Atom, specifically the 1960’s series, #27, you might catch that highly obscure reference), and Harvey did a good job, though I wish we got a bit more backstory on him. Ditto Joanna Pettet (The Evil and Double Exposure), who played Harvey’s sister.
I like the two main cops – John Ireland and Stuart Whitman. Ireland (I Saw What You Did, Miami Golem, Satan’s Cheerleaders, Day of the Nightmare, Terror Night, The House of Seven Corpses, and The Graveyard Story) was fun with his rugged, conservative cop route (in fact, he’s running for re-election as sheriff, and gets asked by a student paper his political beliefs – anti-porn, anti-abortion, anti-fun), and with more humanity, there’s Whitman (Revenge!, Vultures, Eaten Alive, and Night of the Lepus), who does pretty well, but again, his story doesn’t really go anywhere. Two others, being Janear Hines and David Macklin, stood out as well.
Welcome to Arrow Beach did do a few interesting things. One of the kills was during a photo shoot, and in little flashes, it goes from a woman being photographed to being chopped apart (we don’t see the extent of the damage, but there is definitely dismemberment involved). Another character opens a refrigerator, and seeing a bag of hamburger, has a flashback-type thing – this flashback isn’t the whole screen, though, it’s superimposed on the hamburger. It’s not amazing, but it did give this film a few unique portions.
This is a really hard film to get a grasp on. I liked a decent amount about it, and it was mostly engaging, but at the same time, I really think there should have been more meat to the story, Some background on Harvey’s character would have been nice (all we get were a few disjointed flashbacks), but even so, if you liked the vibe of films like Warlock Moon and Terror House, this is worth seeing.
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