Back to School Part II #29: A Friend To Die For a.k.a. Death of a Cheerleader (dir by William A. Graham)


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Over the past couple of year, I’ve had so much fun making fun of Tori Spelling’s performance in the original Mother, May I Sleep With Danger? that I almost feel like I have an obligation to review a movie in which she gave a halfway decent performance.

That film would be another 1994 made-for-TV-movie.  It was apparently originally broadcast as A Friend To Die For but most of us know it better as Death of a Cheerleader.  That’s the title that’s used whenever it shows up on Lifetime.  There actually was a time when Death of a Cheerleader used to show up on almost a monthly basis but that was a while ago.  Lifetime has since moved on to other movies about dead cheerleaders.

Technically, as my sister immediately pointed out when I made her watch the movie, the title isn’t quite correct.  Though Stacy Lockwood (Tori Spelling) does try out for and is named to her school’s cheerleading squad, she never actually gets to cheer.  Instead, shortly after the school assembly in which her selection is announced, Stacy is found stabbed to death.  But really, Death of A Future Cheerleader doesn’t quite have the same ring to it.

As for who killed Stacy … well, it’s no secret.  This is one of those true crime films where the murderer is not only portrayed sympathetically but is the main character as well.  Angela Delvecchio (Kellie Martin) was a high school sophomore who was obsessed with trying to become popular.  She looked up to Stacey and desperately wanted to be her best friend.  (Why she didn’t just offer to bribe Stacey, I don’t know.  Maybe she hadn’t seen Can’t Buy Me Love….)  When Stacey got a job working in the school office, so did Angela.  Of course, the school’s somewhat sleazy principal (Terry O’Quinn, coming across like John Locke’s worst nightmare) only made it a point to talk to Stacey and pretty much ignored Angela.  When Stacey applied to work on the yearbook, so did Angela.  When Stacey tried out for cheerleading, so did Angela.

In fact, the only time that Angela stood up to Stacey was when Angela was taunting the school’s token goth (played by Kathryn Morris).  That turned out to be a mistake because Stacey never forgave her.  When Angela invited Stacey to a party, Stacey was reluctant to go.  When Stacey did finally accept the invitation, Angela stabbed her to death.

A Friend to Die For/Death of a Cheerleader is based on a true story and the film tries to lay the blame for Angela’s crime on the affluent neighborhood she was raised in.  Just in case we missed the message, the film actually features a Priest (played by Eugene Roche) who says that the community put too much pressure on Angela to succeed.

Uhmmm….okay, if you say so.

Seriously, this is a pretty good little true crime film and both Tori Spelling and Kellie Martin give really good performances but this whole “It’s society’s fault” argument is typical, mushy, made-for-TV, bourgeois liberal BS.  Angela picked up the knife, Angela committed the crime, end of story.  That said, A Friend To Die For is pretty good as far as these movies go.  I already mentioned the performances of Spelling and Martin but also keep an eye out for Marley Shelton, who gets a really good scene in which she explains that she never liked Stacey that much while she was alive.

You can watch A Friend To Die For/Death of a Cheerleader below!

 

Stranger Things- Season 1, Episode 6 – The Monster; ALT Title: Are you there God? It’s me, El.


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Cold Open: Creeper is calling for Nancy. She is lost in the Shadow World.  In her haste, Nancy is has passed the exit and his alone in the with the monster.  Creeper sees the tree portal, then Nancy’s outstretched arm, and pulls the love of his life back into the Light World like a forceps baby.  The tree’s portal closes.

Roll Credits.

Steve is driving with his crew all worried about Nancy.  He uses his much improved Ninja Skills to go up to Nancy’s bedroom, but is frozen with shock and rage at the sight of Creeper comforting Nancy on her bed.

Joyce’s House:  Hop is mentally exhausted, but pushes through it.  He explains that he saw Will’s room because there was a kid’s bed and kid’s drawing on the wall.  However, when Joyce asks, “Was [the drawing] good?”  Hop describes it as a kid’s drawing.  She shows Hop an example of Will’s very good artwork.  Hop realizes that all this time that he’s been looking for another kid.  David Harbour plays this scene with a mix of realization and rage that they did this to yet another kid.  I haven’t seen acting this good since the Robert Mitchum or Gary Cooper.  In five years, he’ll be holding an Oscar.  

Mike’s house:  Nancy showers off her evil goo.  She has Creeper sleep in her bed.  Maybe, he’ll take some photos of her when she sleeps? You two deserve each other. 

Hop and Joyce:  They go on a quest to find El’s mom, using his library research.  Given that was a trolling ground for Hop, I didn’t mean to have that previous sentence to read vaguely dirty.

Nancy’s Room:  Nancy Nancy Drews (sorry had to go there) a theory that the monster is a predator, who hunts at night, and detects blood.  HMMMMMMM, whatever could it be????  They decide to set a trap.

Mr. Clark’s house:  He is visited by Evil Modine’s Blonde Henchwoman and is duped into revealing the boys’ identities with promises of nerdy tech programs for promising youths.

Flash to El: Evil Modine brings El a one-dollar Target store plant because he wants to her to make contact and he’s obviously cheap.

El wakes in the woods.  She puts her wig on to become a normal girl again.  She looks into the water seeing herself as a freak, a monster, an ersatz girl.  El tosses the wig and screams her energy into the lake.

Mike’s House:  Karen uses her bobby pin to gain access to Nancy’s room, expecting to find a sleeping kid.  Instead, she sees an empty bed and the indications that a boy spent the night.

Lucas’ House:  The boys try to make up. It’s a bit corny, but in a good way.  Lucas is determined to find Will on his own and he’s convinced that El is a traitor.  Dustin insists that it was pretty awesome; she threw him  into the air with her mind.  Lucas’ face says it all- that’s why she sucks, SHE’S NOT HUMAN!

El decides to go shopping for some Eggos.  She’s dirty, she’s weird, and the villagers are scared.  FLASH to the Evil Bathtub:  El is being submerged into the dark world -the in between space that separates our world and the Shadow World a membrane that acts a terrible bridge.  Back to the store where once again, we find a dickish manager.  She calls the manager a Mouth Breather; it’s pretty awesome.  He tries to stop El because she’s leaving the store without paying and El’s like – LEGGO MY EGGO! BOOM- The sliding glass doors explode.

Hop and Joyce:  They arrive at Terry Ives’ home to ask her about her daughter.  She is catatonic.

Lucas: We see him leaving to find Will.  He sees a white Hawkins Power and Light van. Dustin and Mike, separated from Lucas, discuss why Lucas is upset.  Dustin explains that Lucas is jealous because he’s being replaced by El.

We learn from Terry’s sister that she got into MK Ultra in college.  They gave Terry loads of LSD, put her in the salt water tank, but she was pregnant.   This gave her baby enhanced superpowers.  This is an obvious nod to Dean Herbert’s Dune, when Lady Jessica takes the Water of Life when she was pregnant; thereby, giving her daughter Alia superpowers. Yep, I just laid some nerd knowledge on you! Boom!  Terry’s sister explains that Terry believed she would have telekinetic and other badass powers; we flash to El’s mojo badassery throughout the series.  All the while she describes this, there is baby music playing in the background that is extra creepy.

Lucas uses his compass and arrives at Evil Modine’s Government Facility.

Nancy and Creeper find supplies to set their trap.  When they go outside, she sees the movie theater marquee – All The Right Moves Starring – Spray Painted – Nancy the Slut Wheeler.  She’s mortified.  She hears spray paint cans being used and finds Steve and his cohorts.  She slaps him.  Steve starts insulting Creeper and Creeper kicks Steve’s ass.  The cops arrive and in a funny accidental assault on a police officer, Creeper is arrested.

Hop and Joyce: She’s devastated that it’s been 12 years since Terry saw her daughter, meaning she may never see Will again. Hop explains that there’s still a chance.  He explains that he’s been through what she’s going through, but his daughter was taken permanently, but he will get Will back to her.  People in pain will sometimes lash out because a person tries to share their pain, thinking that the sharer is trying to make it about themselves.  WRONG! Don’t be that way! Pain is not unique.  There’s sympathy and empathy.  Sympathy- wow, that sucks.  Empathy- I felt your kind of pain because this happened to me.  This is a vulnerable act of sharing, creating intimacy and intimacy is the bedrock of any relationship. 

Hop gets a call that Creeper was arrested.

Back at the Police Station, Nancy brings Creeper some ice for his candid photo taking hands.

Lucas:   He sees a bunch of Hawkins Power and Light vans.  Lucas realizes that the government is on to them.

The Bullies find Dustin and Mike at the Quarry.  The World’s Smallest Bully (WSB) catches Dustin and threatens to cut out Dustin’s baby teeth, if Mike doesn’t jump into the quarry. The tension builds and he jumps.  The boys run to see a likely dead Mike; instead, Mike is suspended in mid-air and hoisted back to the top of the cliff.  We cut to El who has her signature bloody nose.  She shoves one bully into the air and breaks the WSB’s arm.  El says, GO!  The bullies do.

Flash to In between dark room: She sees the monster and approaches.  She reaches out to it’s scaly skin and touches the creature.  It shrieks at her with a head full of teeth.  El’s terror is so great that she releases a huge energy burst that tears a hole in our dimension, linking our world to the shadow world and the Monster.

Back to the quarry, El confesses she opened the gate; therefore, she is the monster.  Mike eschews that notion- You saved me El. They all hug.

Dustin, Mike, and El have return to Mike’s house and the Hawkins Power and Light Van is waiting for them.

 

“Where No Man Has Gone Before”: Fifty Years of STAR TREK


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Gene Roddenberry’s space odyssey first sailed onto the small screen on September 8, 1966. I can remember being allowed to stay up late (I was only 8 at the time!) to watch it with my dad, who was a big science-fiction buff. As a career Navy man, I think he related to the idea of a ship’s travels (he was also a fan of VOYAGE TO THE BOTTOM OF THE SEA). Being a young’un at the time, I was more into the weird creatures the Starship Enterprise crew encountered on their “five-year mission”.

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Unless you’ve been living in another galaxy the past half century, you know all the characters. There’s William Shatner as the headstrong Capt. James Tiberius Kirk, emoting as only Shatner can. Leonard Nimoy became something of a teen idol as the logical Vulcan Mr. Spock (something about those pointed ears, maybe?). DeForrest Kelly played the ornery Dr. “Bones” McCoy, forever…

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Music Video of the Day: Criminal by Fiona Apple (1997, dir by Mark Romanek)


Today’s music video of the day is Fiona Apple’s Criminal!

I can actually remember the first time that I saw this video.  I was 11 years old and I was like, “So, that’s what you do when you’re a teenager!”  I subsequently had so much fun as a teenager that I kept having fun even after I grew up.  So, I guess it can be argued that this video amounts to 4 minutes that basically determined the rest of my life…

Criminal was directed by Mark Romanek and he has said that he wanted to capture a sense of voyeurism with this video.  He certainly accomplished that.  Fiona Apple has said that Criminal is about “feeling bad for getting something so easily by using your sexuality.”  Myself, I think people tend to pay so much attention to the fact that Fiona’s in her underwear for most of the clip that they miss the video’s rather sly sense of humor.

Here’s Criminal.  Enjoy!