Theatrical Poster

Title: Phobia

Tagline: "Murder put an end to their fears."

Release Date: September 9th, 1980

Phobia is a thriller film released in 1980. The film stars Paul Michael Glaser from TV's Starsky and Hutch. It was directed by John Huston for Paramount Pictures.

A psychiatrist involved in a radical new therapy comes under suspicion when his patients are murdered, each according to their individual phobias.


Psychiatrist Dr. Peter Ross (Glaser) M.D., is using radical techniques on his patients to cure them of their various phobias. He becomes terrified when someone starts murdering the subjects one at a time.


  • holds a 3.7/10 rating on imdb (as of sept. '14)
  • Melvyn Hill (no relation to Gladys) was also a major contributor to the development of the script. Professor Hill, a psychologist whose knowledge about the criminally insane as well as his credible creative writing skills also advised Mr. Huston with the preparation of the script. Uncredited.
  • Gladys Hill, for years 'Huston, Johns personal assistant and co-writer, contributed greatly to the preparation of the final shooting script for Phobia uncredited. She was given a credit as assistant to Mr. Huston.



If some movie magazine ever comes up with the bright idea of putting together a list entitled "the top 100 most idiotic ways to spoil a movie", than the number 1 spot is undoubtedly reserved for "simply reading the tagline for John Huston's Phobia!". Seriously, if you are considering to watch this film and you haven't yet paid any attention to reading the tagline, well then … DON'T! I mean, guessing the denouement of the film isn't exactly quantum physics, but the stupid tagline just gives away the end twist. Other than that "Phobia" honestly wasn't as bad as I was led to believe, in fact. I almost exclusively read reviews and user comments stating that "Phobia" is a terribly boring thriller effort and undeniably the absolute low point in John Huston's overall magnificent career. Well okay, in spite of all the warnings, I still desperately wanted to see it for two reasons. First and foremost, it might be an inferior John Huston film but it's still remains a John Huston film and they should always be worth checking out! Besides, this is the only horror movie Huston directed, even though he starred in a couple of weird Italian ones like "Tentacles" and "The Visitor". Secondly, and this is truly a personal weakness of mine, the movie poster very much appealed to me. The simply image of a face, half covered in darkness and half depicting people's death struggles is already a lot scarier than the entire content of most other thrillers.

In all honesty, I'm really glad that I took the effort of tracking down "Phobia" and I would definitely encourage other people not to base your judgment on the negative reviews. This isn't a terrific thriller, obviously, mainly due to the slow pacing and continuous predictability of the script, but it nevertheless contains a few good ideas and even a handful of genuinely suspenseful and macabre moments. I found the basic subject matter to be very interesting and full of horrific potential, maybe partly because I have a couple of bizarre and inexplicable phobias myself. Paul Michael Glaser (yes yes, the original Starsky!) plays the acclaimed but slightly controversial psychiatrist Dr. Peter Ross. With the support of his hospital, he started a project to help a test group of five patients get over their various phobias including heights, crowded places, drowning and snakes. Dr Ross' methods are unorthodox and even dangerous, as he literally forces his patients to confront their fears and pushes them quite far into them. Shortly after having received the media's attention, Ross' patients start dying under mysterious circumstances and each one according to their own phobia.

I've been watching horror practically my entire life and I really think that there aren't enough movies that deal with people's fears. "Phobia" is not a great or highly memorable effort, but at least it's decent and attempts to thrive on slow-brooding tension instead of on cheap shocks and gore. The film admittedly has too many shortcomings, like the clichéd selection of phobias and the truly disappointing climax, but several sequences are properly elaborated and the wholesome is definitely worth watching.

Author: Coventry from the Draconian Swamp of Unholy Souls 6 August 2011


Directed by John Huston
Produced by Zale Magder
Written by Story:

Ronald Shusett Gary Sherman Screenplay: Peter Bellwood
Lew Lehman
Jimmy Sangster

Starring Paul Michael Glaser

Susan Hogan John Colicos

Music by André Gagnon
Cinematography Reginald H. Morris
Edited by Stan Cole
Distributed by Paramount Pictures
Release date(s) *September 9, 1980
Running time 94 min. (approx.)
Country United States
Language English
Budget $5,100,000
Box office Unknown