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With: Paul Michael Glaser, Susan Hogan, John Colicos, Lisa Langlois, Alexandra Stewart, Kenneth Walsh, David Bolt, David Eisner, Robert O'Ree, Neil Vipond, Marian Waldman
Written by: Lew Lehman, Jimmy Sangster, Peter Bellwood, based on a story by Gary Sherman, Ronald Shusett
Directed by: John Huston
MPAA Rating: R
Running Time: 91
Date: 09/09/1980

Phobia (1980)

3 Stars (out of 4)

Personality Crisis

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

Phobia is the closest John Huston ever came to directing a horror film, and, as the title suggests, it's more psychological than it is scary. The director never really seems fully committed to the idea behind the movie, but nonetheless, it's pretty effective overall. And Huston fans will likely be able to detect some of its maker's gruff touches. Paul Michael Glaser — best known at the time for being Starsky on the hit TV show Starsky & Hutch — stars as psychiatrist Dr. Peter Ross, who uses drastic techniques to treat his patients' phobias. A woman afraid of people and crowds is made to stand in front of a huge movie screen that makes a 90 degree bend and surrounds its audience, assaulted with movies of thronging crowds. Another man who is afraid of snakes is subjected to movies of snakes; a man who is afraid of heights is subjected to things falling from high places, etc. Suddenly, Ross's patients are murdered, one by one. That's about it, followed by a few mild killings and a "whodunnit" aspect, yet it's smart enough that the identity of the killer isn't entirely apparent. It was a Canadian production, and Glaser spends a good portion of the movie playing hockey when he should be doctoring.

Kino Lorber's Blu-ray includes a commentary track by writer Paul Corupe and historian Jason Pichonsky, who gamely attempt to place the movie in some context in Huston's career. It also comes with interviews with actresses Susan Hogan and Lisa Langlois, and trailers.

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