International Weirdness : “The Haunting Of Ellie Rose”

Trash Film Guru

It’s probably not a great sign when a film sits on the shelf for six years, unreleased and undistributed, but such is the case with The Haunting Of Ellie Rose, a modest little low-budget number out of the UK from first-time director Tristan Versluis (who also co-wrote the script with Tim Major and Andy Thompson), a guy who’s apparently has made a name for himself as one of the top makeup artists in the British film and television industry — and has subsequently returned to that line of work. Again, probably not a great sign.

So, anyway,  yeah — this flick was actually filmed back in 2009, but hung around collecting dust until 2015, when it was finally released on DVD as well as onto various home viewing platforms, including Amazon Prime, which is how I caught it. I certainly wasn’t expecting much given what little I knew of…

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Lisa Cleans Out Her DVR: The Wrong Student (dir by David DeCoteau)

Y’all know that I usually avoid politics like the plague but this is just something that needs to be said:

The U.S. Government could stand to learn a little from a good Lifetime film.  A good Lifetime movie is not expensive (and usually can be viewed for free).  A good Lifetime movie does not demand that the audience watch it but instead, provides a good reason for you to sacrifice 90 minutes of your time.  A good Lifetime movie does not attempt to rob you of your individual freedoms and, in fact, it celebrates your right to talk back to the screen.  A good Lifetime movie delivers exactly what it promises.  A good Lifetime movie does not talk down to its audience.  A good Lifetime movie goes out of its way to keep its audience entertained.  If the U.S. government was more like a Lifetime movie, we wouldn’t have spent the past 17 years dealing with one tedious situation after another.  If the U.S. government was more like a Lifetime movie, life would be a lot more fun and twitter far less annoying.

I found myself thinking about this as I continued to clean out my DVR by watching The Wrong Student.  I recorded The Wrong Student off of Lifetime on March 11th.  I’m glad I did because The Wrong Student epitomizes everything that I love about Lifetime.

Add to that, it’s a film that proves something that I’ve always suspected — soccer is the source of all evil.

Maddie (Evanne Friedmann) is a teenager who loves two things: soccer and the new soccer coach.  The new coach is Dominic (Jason-Shane Scott), who has amazing pecs and abs.  How in love with Dominic is Maddie?  Well, she’s so in love with him that she’s willing to do almost anything to keep him around.  Does that mean that Maddie is willing to poison the old soccer coach?  It sure does.  Does that mean that Maddie is willing to fake an injury so she’ll have an excuse to get naked in the locker room while a mortified Dominic hides his eyes?  Of course!  What about pretending to get drunk at a party and then begging Dominic to give her a ride home?  Hey, who hasn’t done that?  In fact, Maddie is so obsessed with Dominic that she’s even willing to murder her ex-boyfriend.

Maddie’s pretty, intelligent, and apparently her family has some money but she sure does have some issues.  Personally, I blame the soccer.

Amber (Kennedy Tucker) is also on the soccer team.  Amber is living with her Aunt Kelly (Jessica Morris).  Obviously, Amber knows that Dominic is too old for her but he’s exactly the right age for Kelly!  When Maddie realizes that Kelly and the coach are getting close, can you guess what happens?

Anyway, The Wrong Student is a lot of fun.  David DeCoteau has directed a lot of “wrong” films for Lifetime, including The Wrong Roommate and The Wrong Child.  He knows exactly how to make one of these films entertaining and The Wrong Student is an enjoyably self-aware melodrama.  Evanne Friedmann is wonderfully unhinged as crazy Maddie and Jason-Shane Scott looks great without a shirt on.  The Wrong Child is a wonderfully entertaining example of just how much fun a Lifetime movie can be.

Everything should be more like a Lifetime movie.

A Movie A Day #76: Harry Tracy, Desperado (1982, directed by William A. Graham)

The year is 1902.  The old west is coming to an end.  Almost all of the famous outlaws are either dead or imprisoned.  Only a few, like Harry Tracy (Bruce Dern), continue to make a living by robbing banks and trains.  Though he is often captured and even sentenced to death a few times, Harry is always able to escape.  His latest escape, from a prison in Washington, has led to the largest manhunt in American history.  Harry is being pursued by a trigger-happy army, led by U.S. Marshal Morrie Nathan (played by singer Gordon Lightfoot).  Harry has been in this situation before but this time, things are different.  Harry is traveling with Catherine Tuttle (Helen Shaver), the daughter of a local judge.  Harry and Catherine are in love but that does not matter to the men with the guns.

Harry Tracy is a sadly overlooked and elegiac western from Canada.  It is based on a true story.  Outlaw Harry Tracy really did escape from several prisons and he eventually was the target of the largest manhunt in U.S. history.  (His relationship with Catherine was apparently created for the film.)  In real life, Harry was reportedly considered to be more ruthless than Jesse James and he killed not only members of law enforcement but also members of his own gang.  The movie’s Harry is a much more gentle character.  In the film, Harry only kills in self-defense and he robs banks not because he’s greedy but because it’s the only life that he has ever known.  Harry is a relic of a time that it coming to a close.  In one scene, he is shocked to come across a man driving a car.  For an outlaw who usually makes his escape on horseback, the new century does not hold much promise.

In the tradition of Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, Harry Tracy mixes comedy with tragedy.  The film’s defining image is Harry fleeing from his latest robbery and dropping most of the money in the process.  Harry often seems to be bewildered by all the fuss that people are making over him.  Bruce Dern and Helen Shaver are great as Harry and Catherine.  Even the casting of Gordon Lightfoot works.  (Lightfoot also wrote the movie’s theme song.)

Harry Tracy is an overlooked classic about the end of the old west and the beginning of the modern era.

Diamond in the Rough: RIOT IN CELL BLOCK 11 (Allied Artists 1954)

cracked rear viewer

Back in 1951, movie producer Walter Wanger (rhymes with danger) discovered his wife, actress Joan Bennett , was having an affair with her agent, Jennings Lang. The enraged husband tracked them to a parking lot, where Wanger shot Lang in the groin. That’ll teach him! Wanger was subsequently arrested, and sentenced to serve a four-month bid in a Los Angeles county farm. His stint in stir, though brief, affected him profoundly, and he wanted to make a film about prison conditions. The result was RIOT IN CELL BLOCK 11, a ripped-from-the-headlines prison noir that’s tougher than a two-dollar steak.

Wanger hired Don Siegel to direct the film. Siegel was gaining a reputation as a director of muscular, low-budget features, and RIOT IN CELL BLOCK 11 is a great early example of his harsh, brutal style. The movie’s sparse, shadowy setting was filmed on location at California’s infamous Folsom Prison thanks to…

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Music Video of the Day: Since You’ve Been Gone by Rainbow (1979, dir. Ken Walz)

What is with some music videos not letting the thumbnail go through to an embed? You can see a less complete, but better looking version below that does display its thumbnail. They are both here at the time I am writing this, which is the day before this post goes live.

Okay, I think I can make this have to do with my current ABBA retrospective and tie in with Power Rangers (2017).

The first is obvious. I know next to nothing about Mighty Morphin Power Rangers except that they are multi-colored. Thus, Rainbow. Much like Power Rangers, the group has gone through so many different people that someone on Wikipedia put this chart together.

Second, this song was originally written by Argent guitarist Russ Ballard. You can hear his version below.

Russ Ballard would go on to write I Know There’s Something Going On for Frida and Can’t Shake Loose for Agnetha. That’s the ABBA connection.

The director of Power Rangers is Dean Israelite who was born in Johannesburg, South Africa. After the Russ Ballard version, Since You’ve Been Gone was covered by South African band Clout. You can hear two versions from them below. One appears to be the original, and the other for a more recent album.

It shouldn’t come as much of a surprise that lead-singer Cindy Alter was also born in Johannesburg.

There are my connections to ABBA and the new Power Rangers movie. But there’s other interesting information about the song and music video.

The song would also go on to be covered by Cherie and Marie Currie.

I like this version because they turned it into a duet. It’s tough to beat Graham Bonnet’s vocals on Rainbow’s version, so I like their different take on it. Brian May of Queen would also cover it later with his own band.

The director of the video is Ken Walz. He did most of his work in music videos as a producer. Notably, he produced Girls Just Wanna Have Fun and Time After Time by Cyndi Lauper. Both of them were directed by Edd Griles who also directed several music videos for Rainbow. Ken Walz also directed I Know What Boys Like by The Waitresses, along with a few others.

I love connections.

My favorite connection via the song is that you can tie Black Sabbath to The Righteous Brothers via Rainbow covering it. Ronnie James Dio fronted Black Sabbath after Ozzy Osbourne. Rainbow’s original vocalist was Ronnie James Dio. The original version of this song was produced by Roger Glover. Clout covered Substitute by The Righteous Brothers and this song. Roger Glover was the bassist for Rainbow during this period.

My favorite connection via the music video is that you can tie Rainbow to Pierce Brosnan’s wife Keely Shaye Brosnan. This music video was directed by Ken Walz. Ken Walz produced The Heart Of Rock And Roll by Huey Lewis & The News. The music video for Stuck With You by Huey Lewis & The News starred Keely Shaye Brosnan.

Add the two together with TV, and you can even bring Black Sabbath together with the short-lived sitcom My Two Dads, since Cyndi Lauper had a reoccurring role on Mad About You and Paul Reiser was on both shows (Black Sabbath->Ronnie James Dio->Rainbow->Edd Griles->Cyndi Lauper->Mad About You->Paul Reiser->My Two Dads).

Enjoy the song and music video.