Film Review: Stalker’s Prey (dir by Colin Theys)

Before I really get into writing about tonight’s Lifetime premier movie, there’s something that I need to point out.  The movie that premiered on Lifetime was called Stalker’s Prey.  As often happens with Lifetime movies, it actually has more than one title.  Lifetime will often change the title of movies, either to make them fit into the one of the Lifetime “franchises,” (like the Perfect films or the … At 17 films) or just to make them sound more lifetime-y.  According to the imdb, Stalker’s Prey is also known as Hunter’s Cove.  Personally, I think Hunter’s Cove is a better title but Stalker’s Prey does have more of a Lifetime feel to it.

Well, whatever you call the movie, it was a lot of fun.

Stalker’s Prey opens with a real “Oh my God!  Just like me!” moment, with teenager Laura (Sharbino Saxon) getting caught staying out too late and making out with her boyfriend, Nick (Luke Slattery).  Now, Nick seems to be a nice guy but Laura’s mother, Sandy (Cynthia Gibb), doesn’t like him.  Sandy and Laura have a strained relationship.  Ever since her parents got divorced, Laura has been rebellious (though her rebellion seems rather mild compared to what some angry teenagers have done in previous Lifetime movies).   Sandy feels that Nick is a bad influence on Laura and that Laura is a bad influence on her younger sister, Chloe (Alexis Lariviere).

(While I did relate to Laura, I was also fortunate enough to be the youngest, so I never had to worry about being a bad influence on anyone.)

Sandy forbids Laura from going out so, the next morning, Laura sneaks out.  She and Nick sail out to an isolated spot.  They relax on the water.  They go for a swim.  They ignore Sandy trying to call them.  And then, of course, a shark comes along and eats Nick.  If not for Bruce Kane (Mason Dye), it would have eaten Sandy as well.

Bruce is the handsome, charming, and kind of odd son of the Mayor.  He just happened to be in the area when he saw Laura being attacked.  He saved Laura from certain death.  Soon, Bruce is a local hero.  He appears on the news nearly every night, assuring everyone that he is going to catch the shark and prove himself worthy of his famous last name.  Meanwhile, Laura has been totally traumatized, which makes sense.  Not only is Nick dead but, thanks to that shark, she’s probably going to have a permanent scar as well.

Remember how I said that Bruce just happened to be in the area?  Well, that’s kind of Bruce’s thing.  Any time that Laura goes anywhere, Bruce just happens to be right there.  He drops by her hospital room.  He drops by her house.  When Laura goes shopping, Bruce shows up in the parking lot.  When Laura stops by the police station, Bruce happens to be walking by.  When she goes back to school, Bruce just happens to be her new substitute teacher.  When she comes home, Bruce is babysitting Chloe.  When she goes to the beach, Bruce shows up with flowers.

Bruce considers Laura to be his girlfriend, despite the fact that she only gave him one pity date and only slept with him because he took advantage of her emotionally fragile state.  Laura wants nothing to do with Bruce but Bruce will not accept that.  Bruce has issues.  Bruce also has a mannequin on his boat but you’ll have to watch the movie to see what that’s all about.

Meanwhile, it appears that the most dangerous thing that you can do in Hunter’s Cove is be a friend of Laura’s.  Not only does Nick get eaten by a shark but her friend Parker (Camrus Johnson) gets beaten up by a baseball-wielding assailant.  Another friend get run over by a car while out jogging.

And, of course, that shark is still swimming around the ocean, like it owns the place…

It makes sense that, after taking over the SyFy network, the sharks would eventually move over to Lifetime.  That said, Stalker’s Prey is an enjoyable melodrama, one that is quite likable in its cheerfully willingness to go over the top to get a reaction.  Mason Dye is memorably creepy as Bruce, who I assume was named after the mechanical shark from Jaws.  What I liked best about the film was the relationship between Laura and her mother.  The mother-daughter interactions between Cynthia Gibb and Saxon Sharbino felt very real and their relationship reminded me of my relationship with my own mom.  It definitely gave the film an extra layer of effectiveness.

Whether you call it Stalker’s Prey or Hunter’s Cove, it was a lot of fun and very entertaining.

The Land Down Under: THE SUNDOWNERS (Warner Brothers 1960)

cracked rear viewer

G’day, mates! Let’s take a trek through the wilds of 1920’s Australian outback with  , Robert Mitchum Deborah Kerr, and a herd of bouncing sheep in THE SUNDOWNERS. Fred Zinnemann, generally associated with serious, tense dramas like HIGH NOON and FROM HERE TO ETERNITY, lends a lighter touch than usual to this sprawling, almost John Ford-esque tale of an itinerant sheep drover and his family, and the wife who longs to settle into a home of her own.

Mitchum plays Paddy Carmody, a stubborn Irishman who has to keep moving, unable and unwilling to be tied to one place. He’s a wanderer with a fondness for booze and gambling, and Big Bob is perfect for the part. Mitchum’s penchant for dialects make his Aussie accent more than believable, and his facial expressions, especially during the sheep-shearing contest, are priceless. Deborah Kerr is his equal as wife Ida, the tough Earth Mother who’s loyal to Paddy…

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A Movie A Day #77: On Any Sunday (1971, directed by Bruce Brown)

Why pay money to see CHiPs in the theaters when you can watch On Any Sunday, the greatest motorcycle movie of all time, on YouTube for free?

Directed and narrated by Bruce Brown (of Endless Summer fame), On Any Sunday is a documentary about motorcycle racing.  Brown profiles several professional racers and takes a look at the different types of racing, everything from desert racing to street racing to ice racing.  In On Any Sunday, Brown makes riding a motorcycle look just as exciting as he made surfing look in Endless Summer.  Brown’s racing footage is often amazing and left me wondering how he got some of his shots.

Throughout the documentary, Brown emphasizes both the dedication and the humanity of the racers.  The racers are seen obsessively working on their motorcycles but Brown also points out that, in order to be successful, the racers have to trust each other.  They have to know that, if they crash during the race, the other racers will be alert and quick enough to avoid running them down.

Why, Brown asks, do they do it?  Brown says that most of the racers can’t tell you why they race.  They just enjoy it.  But, with the footage Brown shows us, we can guess why they do it.  Through the use of helmet cams, Brown puts us right on the motorcycle, tearing down a track at over 100 mph and allows us to get as close as we can to feeling the thrill of the race without actually being in the race ourselves.  Brown also makes good use of slow motion to show the skill necessary to avoid crashing and he shows us enough crashes that we understand the risk that comes with racing.  Brown emphasizes that every racer crashes and that the best of them can just brush it off.

On Any Sunday was co-produced by actor and racing enthusiast Steve McQueen.  Towards the end of the documentary, McQueen is interviewed about why he races.  McQueen, a man of few words, says that he enjoys being on the track with the other racers.  They lift him up when he’s feeling down.

On Any Sunday is 46 years old but it will still make you want to get on a motorcycle and ride like a champion.

Here’s The Trailer For Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri

I can’t wait to see this film!  The title is a bit unwieldy but I’m intrigued by the combination of Frances McDormand and director Martin McDonagh.

Here’s the trailer.  It’s red band so you know it has to be good…

Here’s The First Full Trailer For A Little Film Called Justice League!

It says something about how terrible the previous DC films were that people are currently amazed that trailer for Justice League looks kind of fun.  That’s what trailers are supposed to do.  Let’s not forget how excited some people got over the trailers for Man of Steel, Batman v Superman, and Suicide Squad.

“OH MY GOD!  JARED LETO LOOKS GREAT IN THIS!”  Don’t deny it.  A lot of you yelled that.

That said, the trailer for Justice League does look kind of fun.  I might not see the movie but I’ll definitely rewatch the trailer.

Music Video of the Day: Take A Chance On Me by ABBA (1978, dir. Lasse Hallström)

When I started out doing this retrospective, I wanted to get at least as far as this music video. Unfortunately, after 37 ABBA, and ABBA related music videos, I don’t have anything grand to say about it. Still, I can talk about some of the interesting aspects of it.

When you start it up, you are immediately greeted with The Brady Bunch split screen.

Note the crazy eyes on Frida. She does this several times during the video. Why? I don’t know. Why does she jump around at one point?

Maybe that’s jumping for joy.

Take another look at the screenshot of the beginning of the video. Do you see how Agnetha and Frida aren’t doing the same thing? It’s a small detail, but an apt way to describe this music video is that it is all about details. You’ll notice that throughout the video, they are usually doing their own thing instead of carefully moving into certain positions. You still get some of that with shots like this one below.

But you get a lot of shots like this one below where they are doing different things.

While I’m bringing that up, take a look at this shot.

The mark to tell Agnetha and Frida where to stop is visible at Agnetha’s foot. Mistake? Maybe it is since you can also see that the far left has visible black area where the backdrop didn’t reach. You don’t see the mark again in the video. I like to think of it as something left in intentionally by Hallström.

The video is made up of a lot of elements from previous music videos, but there are little changes. The jump cuts are the most obvious. In general, the editing in this video is much more like what you would expect from music videos that would arrive with the birth of MTV.

Another interesting one is changing up the singing head-shot of Agnetha. We get the standard one early on that we are familiar with from videos like SOS. Then it is followed with one where we get Agnetha sweeping upwards from the lower right-hand corner of the screen to do her bit before swinging her head backwards to reveal that spotlight we saw in Money, Money, Money.

One of my favorite things is when Benny springs up from his seat to chase after Frida.

Another thing about the video is that we get a little cutaway to a part where Frida is listening to music while Benny reads a magazine.

Its inclusion ties together a lot of the elements the audience would be familiar with from other ABBA music videos.

Something that isn’t familiar are the the camera movements. You can see the camera move in quickly to follow Frida to Benny sitting on a chair.

You also get shots where the camera moves upwards, and visa versa. It’s interesting how it will come down to, and move towards either Agnetha or Frida. This also happens the other way around as it returns to a shot of both of them.

The last thing I want to bring up is that you’ll notice that there are numerous times Agnetha turns around, or comes close to doing so. The video ends with the back of her head. I love it.

I think that’s it. Enjoy this landmark music video!

ABBA retrospective:

  1. Bald Headed Woman by The Hep Stars (1966, dir. ???)
  2. En Stilla Flirt by Agnetha & ??? (1969, dir. ???) + 8 Hootenanny Singers Videos From 1966
  3. Tangokavaljeren by Björn (1969, dir. ???)
  4. Vårkänslor (ja, de’ ä våren) by Agnetha & Björn (1969, dir. ???)
  5. Titta in i men lilla kajuta by Björn (1969, dir. ???)
  6. Nu Ska Vi Vara Snälla by Björn & Agnetha (1969, dir. ???)
  7. Finns Det Flickor by Björn & Sten Nilsson (1969, dir. ???)
  8. Nu Ska Vi Opp, Opp, Opp by Agnetha (1969, dir. ???)
  9. Det Kommer En Vår by Agnetha (1969, dir. ???)
  10. Beate-Christine by Björn (1969, dir. ???)
  11. En Stilla Flirt by Agnetha & ??? (1969, dir. ???) + 8 Hootenanny Singers Videos From 1966
  12. Att Älska I Vårens Tid by Frida (1970, dir. ???)
  13. Min Soldat by Frida (1970, dir. ???)
  14. Söderhavets Sång by Frida (1970, dir. ???)
  15. Ring, Ring by ABBA (1973, dir. Lasse Hallström)
  16. Ring, Ring by ABBA (1973, dir. ???)
  17. Love Isn’t Easy (But It Sure Is Hard Enough) by ABBA (1973, dir. ???)
  18. Waterloo by ABBA (1974, dir. Lasse Hallström)
  19. Hasta Mañana by ABBA (1974, dir. ???)
  20. I Do, I Do, I Do, I Do, I Do by ABBA (1975, dir. Lasse Hallström)
  21. I Do, I Do, I Do, I Do, I Do by ABBA (1975, dir. ???)
  22. Bang-A-Boomerang by ABBA (1975, dir. Lasse Hallström)
  23. SOS by ABBA (1975, dir. Lasse Hallström)
  24. Mamma Mia by ABBA (1975, dir. Lasse Hallström)
  25. Knowing Me, Knowing You by ABBA (1976, dir. ???)
  26. Tropical Loveland by ABBA (1976, dir. ???)
  27. When I Kissed The Teacher by ABBA (1976, dir. ???)
  28. Tiger by ABBA (1976, dir. ???)
  29. Money, Money, Money by ABBA (1976, dir. ???)
  30. Money, Money, Money by ABBA (1976, dir. Lasse Hallström)
  31. Fernando by ABBA (1976, dir. Lasse Hallström) + Spanish Version
  32. Dancing Queen by ABBA (1976, dir. Lasse Hallström)
  33. That’s Me by ABBA (1977, dir. Lasse Hallström)
  34. Knowing Me, Knowing You by ABBA (1977, dir. Lasse Hallström)
  35. The Name Of The Game by ABBA (1977, dir. Lasse Hallström)
  36. Thank You For The Music/Gracias Por La Música by ABBA (1977/1978, dir. Lasse Hallström)
  37. One Man, One Woman by ABBA (1978, dir. Lasse Hallström)