FEAR CLINIC (2015)
Starring Robert Englund. Fiona Dourif, Felisha Terrell, Angelina Armani, Brandon Beemer, Bonnie Morgan, Cleopatra Coleman, Corey Taylor, Kevin Gage, Nancy Telzerow, Richard Fike, Max Federman and Thomas Dekker.
Screenplay by Aaron R. Drane and Robert Hall.
Directed by Robert Hall.
Distributed by Anchor Bay Entertainment. 95 minutes. Rated R.
Robert Englund has put together a pretty decent career in horror films thanks to one role. That’s doubly impressive because that was a role in which you could not even really see his face.
In the early 80s he was a googly-eyed young character actor who was best known for playing a nice-guy lizard alien on the short-lived series V. Soon after that, he got the role that would make him a star – or at least a cult horror icon – as dream serial killer Freddy Krueger in Wes Craven’s classic A Nightmare on Elm Street.
Though he was completely obscured by burn makeup, razor-blade gloves and a battered fedora, the character’s mix of evil volatility and a razor-sharp (pun intended) black sense of humor created an all-time classic film villain. He ended up playing the role eight times in seven more sequels between 1984 and 2003, before the fedora was finally handed over to Jackie Earl Haley in the poorly-received 2010 reboot of the series.
In the meantime, Englund has put together a pretty consistent 30-plus year career on the back of that role, mostly on low-budget straight-to-video thrillers. He’s never really found another role that came close to offering the unique mix of chills and chuckles as Freddy. However, that hasn’t stopped decades worth of b-movies such as The Phantom of the Opera, The Mangler, 2001 Maniacs, 976-EVIL, Strangeland, Zombie Strippers and many more giving him top-billing (even though he often plays supporting roles) to exploit his horror notoriety and name recognition.
Which brings us to Fear Clinic, the latest straight-to-vid horror flick in which Englund’s name appears at the top of the box – even though, as usual, he does not have the largest role.
Fear Clinic is actually a follow-up on a five-part web series that ran on FearNet in 2009. In the series, and now the movie, Englund played Dr. Andover, a psychiatrist who specialized in exploring and trying to eradicate fear from the human brain. He used a sensory deprivation tank on his patients to immerse the patient in their greatest phobia. The only problem was, Dr. Andover was delusional enough that he had lost his perspective, as well as his medical license.
Fear Clinic: The Movie starts out as a pretty decent scary rip-off of Altered States before it slips into a morass of oozy muck, ridiculous actions and impenetrable plot directions.
A year after Dr. Andover used his voodoo therapy to cure the PTSD of a whole group of unusually attractive college-age survivors of a shotgun massacre in a local diner, all the victims are starting to feel immersed in the horror again.
They all return to the Fear Clinic to have Dr. Andover give them a tune-up, but the good Dr. has lost faith in his therapy due to the recent death of one of the restaurant dwellers. Before she died, she tells him that he had not built a box, but a door through which fear can become real in the world, showing itself in hallucinations and a black, viscous ooze.
The more that the film explains its idea of evil, the more the movie flies off the tracks, until the point that the plot is nearly indecipherable. And honestly, most people will not care enough to try to figure it out.
Too bad, because this movie looked like it may be strangely intriguing before falling into a tar pit of horror clichés. At least it probably will not cause any real harm to Robert Englund’s career, which will just move on to the next inconsequential thriller.
Copyright ©2015 PopEntertainment.com. All rights reserved. Posted: February 20, 2015.