While heading down a stretch of deserted road late at night, Paul Ryan (Keith Atkinson) is forced to pull over his car to the side because of extremely heavy fog. He hears a faint moan and then a female voice calling to him, gets out to investigate and spots a woman - who looks vaguely familiar - dressed in all-white off in the distance. Paul walks in the woman's direction, goes through an iron gate into a cemetery then down some stairs and eventually ends up in front of a crypt door... with his name on it. Inside is a casket. Paul cautiously opens it, finding the rotting corpse of a woman inside. The corpse then slowly starts to rise and comes toward him. Paul tries to flee, but finds the gate he entered through is locked tight. He turns around and the woman slowly continues to get closer and closer and closer... Though this opening sequence is all just a nightmare our protagonist is having, it also serves as a lesson to us all that you don't need a whole lot of money to create a creepy, atmospheric scene, as this does just that very simply and very cheaply with just one man, one zombie, some simple music, a fog machine and some carefully placed lights. Unfortunately, the film never quite reaches the same level of eeriness again after this first scene.
After Paul wakes up in a sweat from his awful nightmare, he gets a phone call from his fiancee Anne Martin (Belinda Balaski, in her film debut). The two are set to be married. Like today. So off to the church they go to get hitched and then they're off again toward their honeymoon destination. On the way there, the two are forced to pull over the car to the side of the road when an impenetrable bank of fogs rolls in. Paul soon spots a woman dressed in white standing off in the distance who starts calling his name. Sound familiar? Anne doesn't see or hear anything, though, and when Paul gets out to investigate he's unable to find the woman and almost falls over a cliff! The newlyweds then get to talking about their future together and she puts his mind at ease when she assures him, "I'm never gonna let you go" and then expresses excitement about "being on the threshold of a tremendous new experience." The fog rolls out, and the two take off.
Already exhausted from the trip, Paul gets distracted while he's driving, a van barrels down on them and he crashes through a guardrail. Anne is thrown from the car and dies. Paul, who was in the car when it flipped numerous times down the rocky embankment, somehow manages to survive but with serious injuries. He's rushed off to the hospital and physically recovers (aside from now having to use a cane), but it's his psychological state that worries his doctors the most. He's depressed, blames himself for the accident and sometimes even believes his wife is still alive. At the resistance of Dr. Walker (Keith Walker, who'd go on write Free Willy), who thinks Paul should remain at the hospital, chief physician Dr. Sawyer (Bert Freed) decides to release him, thinking that going back to his job and being around friends and family is just what he needs.
After leaving the hospital, Paul immediately goes to Eden Glen, the graveyard where Anne is buried. He's shown around by kooky, talkative eccentric Dr. Hilton (Jonathan Hole), who then escorts him to "Eternity;" the mausoleum where Anne's body is entombed. Dr. Hilton then takes off to attend to other business, leaving poor Paul all alone, The shock of seeing his late wife's tomb becomes too much for him. He flashes back to the good old days and then passes out. When he awakens, he discovers he's been locked inside for the night. A black cat mysteriously turns up to comfort him, but then he hears a woman crying, followed by the sound of knocking and Anne's voice pleading for him to let her out. Paul uses some tools workers left behind to break open her tomb, drags out her casket and finds Anne inside... alive. Or is she? It's best not to reveal any more of the plot so that's all you're gonna be getting from me.
This is a sincere, well-intentioned movie very much about grief and learning to accept (or not) the loss of someone you love and miss who's passed away, but it can't quite pull off what it wants to pull off as powerfully as it wants to pull it off thanks to highly uneven writing and acting. The pace drags in the mid-section, the sets are extremely cheap-looking and the 10-minute-long pre-credit nightmare sequence, while the creepiest in the entire film, is obviously there just to pad this 71-minute movie out. Not that this doesn't have its merits. It does. Some interesting things happen along the way, especially toward the end.
Filmed starting in 1972, copyrighted 1974 and not released until 1978, this long-forgotten chiller comes courtesy of former actor, college professor and WWII vet Walter Stocker, who'd previously appeared in The Madman of Mandoras (1963), which later had all new footage added and was reedited to become They Saved Hitler's Brain in 1968. This was a family project for Stocker. His son, Gregory Dana Stocker, wrote the screenplay and his daughter, Pamela Stocker, was the associate producer and in charge of wardrobe and props. Supposedly all three were heavily involved in most aspects of the film. Marshall Reed, a veteran of hundreds of westerns in the 40s and 50s, appears as the reverend who marries Paul and Anne and also produced and helped edit the movie. Bruce Kimball, under his real name Bruce Kemp, also has a small role. The special effects are by Roger George, who'd go on to work on films like Repo Man and The Terminator.
Here in America, this was never released during the video era and was only shown on TV in the early 80s (Pittsburgh's "Chiller Theatre" ran it in 1981 and 1982). I'm actually not sure if this ever even played in theaters or not. The only official VHS release I'm aware of was from Video Form Pictures in the UK circa 1984.