Summer of Fear (1978)

Directed by: Wes Craven

Written by: Glenn M. Bennest & Max A. Keller
Lois Duncan (Novel)


Linda Blair .... Rachel Bryant
Lee Purcel .... Julia Trent
Jeremy Slate .... Tom Bryant
Jeff McCracken .... Mike Gallagher
Jeff East .... Peter Bryant
Carol Lawrence .... Leslie Bryant
MacDonald Carey .... Professor Jarvis
Fran Drescher .... Carolyn Baker
James Jarnigan .... Bobby Bryant

Release Dates: Made-for-TV: October 31, 1978

*Images courtesy at:






A car falls off a highway cliff and explodes and a relative Julia Trent (Lee Purcel) stays with a family called the Bryants out in a farm in which a horserider in the family Rachel (Linda Blair) tries to get to know her cousin. However, her horse named Sundance goes hysterical around her in which Julia doesn't seem to like this horse either.
Rachel introduces Julia to her friend Carolyn Baker (Fran Drescher) and her prom date Mike Gallagher (Jeff McCracken) to whom she suddenly has eyes for.
Rachel wakes up one day with terrible rashes and has to cancel out on her prom in which Mike takes Julia instead in which Rachel becomes furious with this. She also notices that there's not a reflection in the mirror from Julia plus finds out some strange situations with her too including some voodoo wax doll with Sundance's hairs in which during a horse trail the horse has to be put down due to a serious injury.
Rachel goes to the aid of Professor Jarvis (MacDonald Carey) on books with witchcraft since Rachel's parents are even siding with Julia about the bad situations she's causing in which Rachel finds out if Julia is actually a witch since Jarvis ends up in a hospital due to a supposed stroke shortly afterwards in which this supposed cousin has deadly plans for the Bryants.


This was a nicely made low budget TV movie showing a good beginning with a car wiping out on a cliff of a road with a devilish freaky looking face to the film which almost reminds me of some similarities to a possessed Regan in The Exorcist which adds a good touch to the film.
There's nice writing with a country girl Rachel Bryant enjoying riding her horse which looked peaceful to the film along with this horse going crazy towards the cousin named Julia which leaves an impression that this girl is an evil witch which adds a nice touch with animals senseing some evil in a person.
A good discussion between Rachel and Carolyn Baker hanging out and having a discussion which looked natural as well as a good camera shot looking up on Julia looking stunning with their jaws dropping and complimenting her which also looked natural and energetic as a bunch of teens enjoying themselves.
Then there's lots of curses happening in the film which adds alot to the story and making every moment creepy and exciting such as Rachel's date to the prom that Julia has eyes for so Rachel gets a bad rash and can't go so Julia goes with him which is a nice moment with Rachel getting angry but he's under Julia's spell.
There's also a great disturbing moment with the horse once again attacking Julia which was a perfect scary moment wondering if this horse will trample and injure this beautiful looking girl and a great plot for the movie too. But then a tragedy happens at a horse show since a voodoo doll is involved with this four legged creature and has to be put down which is hard to watch and can make you cry yourself for anyone who loves horses.
The story keeps going on strongly with curses put on people like a professor who gives Rachel books on witchcraft in order to try and find a way to stop her along with him having a stroke afterwards which is another great pointer to the film or when there's no reflection in the mirror with Julia as well as nothing showing when her picture is taken which I got a thrill out of like you're watching a vampire flick but it's a witch instead.
A nice moment with Rachel spotting a voodoo type of wax item on her horse along with great camera shots on her running towards her horse kennel and then a good dark shot on the horse lying there in the dark which looked spooky making you wonder if the horse is dead or not which this moment looked a bit suspenseful.
Good shots on her riding her horse at a show with the horse going out of control and her freaking out which looked terrifying to watch on the moments with all of this as well as a good shot on the horse falling to the ground.
A great argumentive moment between Rachel towards Julia which looked intense as well as Julia herself acting really wicked towards her which looked impressive that she's untrustworthy and over controlling too.
Some good camera takes on Rachel and Carolyn at a hospital bed talking to Professor Jarvis with him acting weak when he speaks to them which was well put together along with a jumping moment on a nurse abruptly entering the room and getting aggressive with the girls.
A good discussion with Rachel in a bedroom in her bed along with young Bobby Bryant to drop dead and a nice shot on him falling down with his eyes closed and then her slowly starting to panick wondering if something has happened to him which looked suspensefully done too.
The story gets really psychological when Julia puts a spell on Rachel's parents and making them take her side over everything which reminds you as one of those types who tries to move into everyone's life. There were lots of suspense with that along with a close lustful scene between one of the family members which you think to yourself that things are really getting out of hand.
Then there's a great classic battle when Julia reveals who she really is against Rachel which shows alot of great excitement too which seems necessary to the story since the mystery unravels making this witch look extremely powerful and scary for a TV movie. A good moment with Julia taking some pictures away from Rachel and acting incredibly wicked by telling her who she really is as well as the two of them having a cat fight rolling around. There's also a nice panicking moment with Rachel herself locking a door and then a good shot on Julia smashing her hand through the door. Then a nice moment with Tom Bryant trying to attack Rachel which was very suspenseful and terrifying.
There's terrific energy with Rachel and Mike Gallagher in a vehicle and panicking along with good shots on a gas petal moving by itself and a window rolling up. There's a good shot on Julia looking demonic and driving a vehicle like a maniac and trying to hit their vehicle with good stunt shots on all of this on a road near a cliff. These situations certainly delivered alot of great suspense and adventure on this scene.
Yet there is a nice happy ending with this family which seems very heartwarming for everyone to enjoy showing that good things will happen again after surviving a nightmare. The film also opened a door for a sequel too which was a shame one never arose.
Bottom line is this film was a great piece to watch with alot of twists and turns making you wonder what's going to happen next and keeps rolling without any disappointments. It's based on a book which I bet is even more exciting to read since books are normally better than a show basing on it.
For anyone who likes suspenseful TV horror movies out in the summer country, this one's for you.

The acting is pretty well done for this time period in which Linda Blair (Rachael Bryant) was slowly acting in horror films after having The Exorcist and it's sequel under her belt. She also portrayed a similar character like her role in Sarah T. - Portrait of a Teenage Alcoholic in which she's a country girl in this film who loves horses. She really brings on a nice charming attitude in her role as the innocent girl next door. Plus she does well with her intensity as well as her aggressions too with what is happening around her. A good moment with her acting aggressive towards her fellow actor on him taking her cousin to the prom and not her which looked highly energised and believeable with her being negative towards him. She was terrific too on her crying emotions along with going ballistic and bringing everything together superbly. This film would definetely mark one of her credits when she was crowned a scream queen during this time period.
Lee Purcell
(Julia Trent) brings on the healthy girl next door type of appeal and looking stunningly hot. She comes across well with her supposedly innocent type of behavior and her harmless attitude in which she pulls off well that there's something dark about her and then definetely shows her great wicked characteristics too. She knew on how to have a good evil aggressive attitude in her part of the film showing a nice two faced versatality in her part of the film. A nice snapping reaction when her fellow actress says that she wants to go with her to visit a friend of hers in the hospital which looked highly energised. Although she wasn't well remembered for her role in this film throughout her acting career she was very impressive and stood out the most throughout the whole cast in the film.
Jeremy Slate
(Tom Bryant) portrayed a nice parent in the flick with his passive and soft spoken behavior and yet does well by acting too easy on things along with showing some good hypnotised reactions when he is under a spell by acting wicked and obnoxious in which made his role quite interesting.
Jeff East
(Peter Bryant) had the nice clean cut type of appeal to his role and really knew how to come across nicely on set with what he's doing. He was a true character actor with his likeable attitude and really got into his role.
Carol Lawrence
(Leslie Bryant) knew on how to act disturbed as the family woman in the film by what is happening but trying to not let it get to her. She also does well with her upsetting actions in the flick showing off a ton of energy in her role along with acting like a basket case too.A nice motioning movement on her by slapping someone in the face.
Fran Drescher
(Carolyn Baker) was great in one of her first acting gigs as an outgoing teen in the flick in which she adds alot of spunk like always to the roles she portrayed. She was very full of life in her role and you can tell she worked very hard in the part she portrayed in the flick.

The music is terrifically composed by John D'Andrea and Micheal Lloyd who was producing records for bubblegum rock idols during this time period with Shaun Cassidy and Leif Garrett. There's great peaceful 70's violin music for the pleasant moments in the country with the family as well as it changing to high pitched sounds for the terror and suspense like you'd hear in a Friday the 13th flick. Plus alot of good deep horn playing too with all that's happening. All of this was sounding incredibly brilliant and superb.