The novelist Dean R. Koontz, who wrote the book on which this thriller is based, specializes in descriptions of horrific violence experienced by ordinary people — he’s a pulp writer, but one with enough skill to make you shudder or gag when he wants you to. The same cannot be said of his TV adaptation of The Face of Fear. It’s the story of a vicious serial killer being hunted down by a police psychologist (Mork & Mindy’s Pam Dawber) and her psychic mountain-climber boyfriend (Matt Houston’s Lee Horsley). A psychic mountain-climber? Already you may have an idea why this movie is so mediocre — Koontz stretches the limits of credibility.
The first half of the movie is spent showing the killer at work, and his murders are more graphic than anything I’ve seen on TV recently, but certainly nowhere near as vivid as Koontz’s prose. In the second half of The Face of Fear, Dawber and Horsley have figured out whodunnit, and chase the bad guy around an office building, which permits Horsley to show off his mountain- climbing skills while scaling the skyscraper. The constraints of prime-time don’t allow this movie to become truly unsettling, and the result is bland action, bland adventure, bland acting. C-