Val’s Movie Roundup #7: Hallmark Edition

Sorry, but there’s going to be a few of these in a row because I have a backlog of Hallmark movies on my DVR that really need to be cleared out. In other words, prepare for death by a thousand greeting cards.


Three Weeks, Three Kids (2011) – Anyone my age remembers Anna Chlumsky from My Girl (1991). It’s nice to see her as an adult. This movie introduces us to Chlumsky’s character Jennifer who we are supposed to believe is a wee bit irresponsible, or at least hasn’t really grown up. Well, no fear because her sister is going to go on vacation and needs a babysitter quickly for her three kids. Of course the experience is going to give her a kick in the butt. It also gets her off the boyfriend that isn’t right for her and moves her onto the one that is. Oh, lord! This is a Hallmark movie. I know there was incest in For Better Or For Worse, but I didn’t intend that pun. Well, the movie isn’t all about her. Her sister just can’t relax on the vacation and the movie is about getting her to calm down and enjoy her life and marriage more too. There is a little corny twist at the end, but I’ll leave that for those who want to see this. The movie is decent.


Your Love Never Fails (2011) – However, I can’t say they same for this one. This is just propaganda. Honestly, the pastor in this says almost word for word a speech given in a very blatant piece of propaganda called Every Young Woman’s Battle. When you boil off the attempt to couch it, the movie is about a woman who has a successful job in the city, but is dragged back to rural Texas by her husband and is legally coerced into spending time with him. The pastor gives a speech that says that no relationship is perfect, but that’s human nature. Just let God into your heart and that will fix the issue. Yeah, in other words, once you’re married, if the relationship isn’t working, then that just means you’re not a good Christian. He even talks to her and says she clearly still has feelings for him because she is choosing to stay even though we know she is required to stay because the court said so. There is no reason to watch this. It’s no wonder that Hallmark aired this last month under the title of A Valentine’s Date rather than the original title that is still displayed onscreen. If I want propaganda of this sort then I will watch Deception Of A Generation thank you very much. At least that’s hilarious rather than uncomfortable. They say Smurfs are homosexual zombies in that video.


Kiss At Pine Lake (2012) – This one is much better. The only issue I picked up is a minor one. Mia Kirshner has put on a little weight. It’s only noticeable because she used to be particularly petite. This works to her advantage because it helps to make her character more believable as having aged from the younger version of herself in the movie. Also, the girl who plays her younger self bears a resemble to Kirshner. Barry Watson on the other hand doesn’t seem to change. I swear, he looks the same as he did in the first episode of 7th Heaven. It also doesn’t help that we are familiar with the way he looked on that show. On top of that, the guy who plays him as a kid doesn’t look like him at all. Luckily, the flashback scenes are short and there are very few of them so it doesn’t really harm the movie at all. As for the story, it’s about a boy and girl who liked each other at summer camp as kids, but never followed through. Their lives bring them back around to each other at the same camp many years later, but this time things work. Nice and simple. Of the four here, this is the one to watch.


Real Murders: An Aurora Teagarden Mystery (2015) – TV Movies should not have complex plots. Commercials ruin them. I wish I could describe the plot to you, but I quickly lost track of the investigation. Didn’t help that it seems to move at a breakneck pace. It actually starts off feeling like it’s going to parody these types of murder mysteries. The murder is committed, but even the person being killed doesn’t seem to care. Then the characters act in humorous ways once the murder is discovered. Teagarden (Candace Cameron Bure) dives in and moves very fast. She also talks about historical murders like you’re talking to Quentin Tarantino about movies. Quick and with a great deal of knowledge. If you are able to follow the plot better than I did, maybe catch it without commercials, then you will probably enjoy it more. Still, I just can’t recommend this one at this point. I wonder if the other Aurora Teagarden movie is better.

sound + vision: THE SEVENTH VICTIM (RKO 1943)

cracked rear viewer


Producer Val Lewton revitalized the horror film during his tenure at RKO Studios in the 1940s. Working with a miniscule budget, Lewton used the power of suggestion rather than monsters to create a body of work that’s still influential on filmmakers today. Studio execs came up with the sensationalistic titles (CAT PEOPLE, I WALKED WITH A ZOMBIE) and gave the producer free rein to tell the stories. Using shadows, light, and sound, Lewton’s quiet, intelligent approach to terror was miles ahead of the juvenile (but fun) stuff cranked out at Universal and Monogram.

THE SEVENTH VICTIM could be considered lesser Lewton. It’s  not seen as often some of his other classics, and that’s a pity, because it’s superior to many of the better known horror movies of the era. This quiet psychological thriller with its civilized satanic cult was a rarity for its time. Only Edgar G Ulmer’s 1934 THE BLACK CAT dared to tackle this kind of material…

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International Weirdness : “Plague”

Trash Film Guru


Having finished a re-read of Alan Moore and Gabriel Andrade’s six-issue run on Crossed + One Hundred (which I just reviewed, as well) earlier in the day, I was still in the mood for more “post-zombie-apocalypse” stuff, and what do you know? Right now the Netflix instant streaming queue is full to bursting with “living dead” flicks I’ve never even heard of , much less seen, so I did a bit of legwork, cross-referencing various titles against their IMDB and Rotten Tomatoes entries, and eventually settled on a 2015 (hey! that’s this year!) low-budget indie effort from Australia called Plague, featuring not a single name with which I was previously familiar.

That’s never a bad place to start in my book, and given that I was hoping for something that offered a bit of a new and unique take on the well-worn tropes involved, this one sounded like…

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Follow-Up Review : “Crossed + One Hundred”

I take another look at Alan Moore and Gabriel Andrade’s “Crossed + One Hundred” now that the initial six-issue storyline is complete.

Trash Film Guru


Fair warning : there are a few key “spoilers” ahead — not just for Crossed + One Hundred, but for Southern Bastards and The Wicked + The Divine, as well — so if you’re not completely caught up on any of these books, skip the seventh paragraph following this one, pick up again at the tenth, and you’ll be in good shape. Got that? Okay, my conscience is clear.


A little while back, I reviewed the first issue of Alan Moore and Gabriel Andrade’s Crossed + One Hundred from Avatar Press, and I’m not sure how many of you took my advice and jumped on-board with it, but I’m guessing it must not have been a very big number because my inbox hasn’t been flooded with emails from random strangers thanking me for turning them onto this series (although I did receive one, which I appreciate) and…

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What Lisa Watched Last Night #132: His Secret Family (dir by Michael Feifer)

Last night, I watched the latest Lifetime original movie, His Secret Family!


Why Was I Watching It?

Last Friday, I not only cried and cried while watching the finale of Degrassi but I also attended a blue moon party that was held in downtown Dallas.  Needless to say, I spent most of Saturday recovering and we all know that the best way to recover from a crazy night is by watching the latest Lifetime original movie!

What Was It About?

Oh my God, poor Haylie Duff!  Earlier this year, she played a woman named Sarah who married a murderer in Til Death Do Us Part.  In His Secret Family, she again plays a woman named Sarah and, once again, she is married to a murderer!  Of course, in this case, her husband is not just a murderer.  He’s got another wife, another family, and another really big house.  It turns out that Sarah is actually the secret wife.

David O’Donnell plays the husband.  When he’s with Sarah, he claims that his name is Jason Goodman.  When he’s with his other family, he uses the name David Marcus.  So is it Jason or David?  Well, regardless of his actual name, he’s more than a little insane.  When he realizes that it’s simply too expensive to support Sarah and their son, Brandon, David decides to both vanish and to frame Sarah for murder.

However, Sarah happens to be best friends with the detective (Parker Stevenson) working her case.  Even though she’s a major suspect in a murder investigation, he allows her to leave town so she can go up to Santa Monica and track down her husband.

Oh, and did I mention that Brandon needs a bone marrow transplant?  And that only David is a match?

What Worked?

This movie was fun in a “how much more batshit insane can this movie get” sort of way.  It wasn’t just that David/Jason was a bigamist with rage problems.  No, this movie also made his a sociopath who coldly refused to do anything to save his son’s life.  Perhaps the film’s best scene was when Sarah confronted David about his secret life, just to have David calmly respond, “Do I know you?”  David O’Donnell was obviously having a lot of fun playing such an insane character and, as a result, he was a lot of fun to watch.

Add to that, since David had two families, he also had two houses.  And seriously, they were both totally to die for!  One thing that I love about Lifetime movies is that everyone owns a big house and the inside of the house is always so incredibly clean and tasteful.  For a hyperorganized germaphobe like me, a Lifetime house would be the equivalent of paradise.  And this film had two of them!

What Did Not Work?

The whole film was full of plot holes and while I usually say that it’s not necessary for a Lifetime movie to make sense, some of the holes in this case were rather deep.  For instance, I could believe that David would end up with two families.  And I could buy that David would eventually realize that it’s cheaper to only have one family.  But, with all that in mind, I never quite understood the whole point of David trying to frame Sarah for murder.  David was already easy enough to hate without tossing in a random murder.  If anything, David just seemed to making things unnecessarily complicated.

“Oh my God!  Just like me!” Moments

Much like Sarah, I often find myself driving to different towns and claiming to be a real estate agent just so I can take a tour of a nice house.  It’s fun!

Lessons Learned

Secrets, secrets are no fun.  Secrets, secrets hurt someone.

4 Shots From 4 Films: Wes Craven Edition

Today is the birthday of one of the masters of horror. So, here’s wishing Wes Craven a happy birthday.

Now, go out there and check out his films. Here’s a four to try out. It’s got voodoo, a thing from the swamp, a street full of nightmares and, the one that started him off, the very last house on the left.


Swamp Thing (dir. by Wes Craven)

Swamp Thing (dir. by Wes Craven)

A Nightmare on Elm Street (dir. by Wes Craven)

A Nightmare on Elm Street (dir. by Wes Craven)

The Last House on the Left (dir. by Wes Craven)

The Last House on the Left (dir. by Wes Craven)