What Lisa Watched Last Night #171: Ten: Murder Island (dir by Chris Robert)

Last night, Drink Slay Love was not the only Lifetime premiere that I watched.  I also watched Ten Murder Island!

Why Was I Watching It?

The obvious answer, of course, is that it was on Lifetime and, whenever I review a Lifetime film, this site gets an upsurge in clicks.

But, beyond that, I liked the commercials for Ten: Murder Island.  They looked moody and atmospheric.  When I read that the movie was about ten people being stalked and murdered on an island, I immediately was reminded of Harper Island, a.k.a. the scariest TV show ever.  How could I not watch, right?

What Was It About?

Ten teenagers have gathered at a house that’s located on an isolated island.  They’re throwing a weekend party but a storm not only knocks out all the power but also everyone’s phone signal.  Add to that, someone on the island is killing everyone, one by one.  Uh-oh!

Why are they being targeted?  Does it have anything to do with Claire Hicks, an unpopular student who committed suicide shortly after homecoming?  Considering that pages ripped from her journal keep appearing at every murder scene, that would seem to be a safe bet.  Will the smart and studious (and kinda boring) Meg (China Anne McClain) be able to figure out what’s happening before everyone’s dead?  And will her pseudo-boyfriend TJ (Rome Flynn) ever come clean about what happened at homecoming?

What Worked?

Both the house and the island were well-chosen locations and, visually, the film had a memorably spooky atmosphere.  If nothing else, while you were watching Ten, you were convinced that anyone could die at any moment.  No one seemed to be safe.  The deaths themselves were, for a Lifetime film, surprisingly graphic and rather mean-spirited.  This killer wasn’t missing around.

I especially liked the flashback scenes that accompanied the reading of Claire’s journals.  They were well-handled, with everyone’s face literally scratched out and obscured, keeping you guessing as to who Claire was writing about.

What Did Not Work?

As I watched Ten: Murder Island, I couldn’t help but be bothered by the fact that no one on the island really seemed to be that upset by the fact that all of their friends were being brutally and gruesomely murderer.  Meg and TJ would get upset whenever they stumbled across a body but, in the very next scene, they would be laughing and flirting and teasing each other about homecoming.

This movie also featured a truly cringeworthy line that was uttered right after Meg learned the terrible truth about what happened at homecoming.  After learning about a truly terrible thing that happened, Meg turns to TJ and exclaims, in all sincerity, “I didn’t realize I meant that much to you!”  Now, I can’t say too much without spoiling the movie but, just to indicate how inappropriate this response felt, this is what I tweeted as soon as I heard the line:

I mean, it’s generally accepted that the majority of characters in a movie like this are going to be douchebags but Ten: Murder Island really abused the privilege.

“Oh my God!  Just like me!” Moments

I totally related to Kumiko (Annie Q), who was the sarcastic girl who had no hesitation about accusing Meg of being a murderer and who seemed to be more annoyed than terrified by the all the lethal drama going on around her.

Lessons Learned

There’s only one Harper’s Island.

A Movie A Day #252: The Death Collector (1976, directed by Ralph De Vito)

Jerry Bolanti (Joe Cortese) is a cocky loud-mouth who has just returned to New Jersey after serving a prison sentence.  Jerry needs a work so a mid-level gangster named Tony (Lou Criscuolo) hires Jerry as a debt collector.  The problem is that Jerry is just not very good at his job.  His attempt to collect money from Bernie Feldshuh (Frank Vincent) leads to Bernie hiring a legendary hitman (Keith Davis) to kill Jerry.  Despite working with two experienced enforcers, Joe (Joe Pesci) and Serge (Bobby Alto), Jerry’s next job is just as unsuccessful and leads to even more unnecessary deaths.  Tony starts to wonder if maybe he made a mistake giving a job to Jerry and, unfortunately, no one simply gets fired from the Mafia.

A low-budget and nihilistic film, The Death Collector occupies a strange place in film history.  Though it was largely ignored when it was first released, one of the few people who did see it was actor Robert De Niro.  De Niro brought the film to the attention of Martin Scorsese, who was casting Raging Bull at the time.  Both Joe Pesci and Frank Vincent made their film debuts in The Death Collector and, after watching the movie, Scorsese cast both of them in Raging Bull.

The rest is history:

In Raging Bull, Pesci beats up Vincent.

In Goodfellas, Pesci kills Vincent.

In Casino, Vincent finally gets to kill Pesci.

If not for The Death Collector, Frank Vincent would never have told Joe Pesci to “get your fucking shinebox.”  If not for The Death Collector, Joe Pesci would never have thrown Frank Vincent in that trunk.  It all started with The Death Collector.

As for the film itself, The Death Collector was filmed on location in New Jersey and it occasionally has a raw and intense grittiness but it suffers because there’s never any reason to care about Jerry.  He starts the movie as an asshole and he ends the movie as an asshole and Joe Cortese’s bland performance fails to make Jerry into a compelling antihero.  The Death Collector works best whenever Vincent and Pesci are on-screen.  Pesci’s performance is slightly toned down version of the hyped-up maniacs that he became best known for playing while Vincent shows that, even in his first film, he was already a master at playing slightly ridiculous tough guys.

The Death Collector can also be found under the title, Family Enforcer.  It’s been released on DVD by several companies, all of which claim that the film “stars” Joe Pesci.  My copy has a picture of Pesci that was lifted from 8 Heads In A Duffel Bag on the cover.

What Lisa Watched Last Night #170: Drink Slay Love (dir by Vanessa Parise)

Last night, I watched a new Lifetime film, Drink Slay Love!

Why Was I Watching It?

Because it was on Lifetime, of course!

Plus, it was a Canadian film about vampires.  I love Canada and I love vampires!  Ever since that episode of Degrassi where Emma got a “social disease” while playing Mina in a school production of Dracula, Canada and vampires have mixed well.

(Now, I should admit, that, while watching Drink Slay Love, I was also watching a film called The Dead Don’t Die on YouTube.  I’m a big believer in multitasking.)

What Was It About?

Pearl (Cierra Ramirez) has a life that most of us can only have erotically-themed nightmares about.  She’s a sixteen year-old vampire princess.  She’s headstrong.  She’s a little bit bratty.  She’s convinced that nothing can hurt her.  Even after she’s the victim of an attempted staking, she still insists on going out in the middle of the night by herself.  On the plus side, Pearl doesn’t attack animals.  She only attacks humans, especially Brad, the poor guy who works at a 24 hour ice cream parlor and who never remembers Pearl’s nightly visits, in which she always gets a scoop of mint ice cream and a pint of blood.

However, everything changes when it’s discovered that Pearl is immune to sunlight!  She is a rare vampire who can actually walk around in the daylight.  This leads to her parents getting the brilliant idea of sending Pearl to high school.  There’s a big feast coming up and apparently, teenage blood is in high demand.  However, once Pearl arrives at the school, she starts to make friends, almost despite herself.  She starts to do the type of things that teenagers in Lifetime movies always do.  How can she set her new friends up to be the main course?

Of course, some of her new friends have secrets of their own.  You know how that goes…

What Worked?

This was a nice change of pace for Lifetime.  After endless movies about obsessive stalkers and stolen babies and bad celebrity lookalikes, it was nice to see something different on Lifetime.  I’m going to guess that Drink Slay Love was made with October in mind and really, this is a good movie for people who want celebrate Halloween without getting traumatized.  It’s not particularly scary but it’s got vampires and it’s enjoyably silly.

Cierra Ramirez did a good job as Pearl.  Pearl is a very sardonic vampire, which is the best type of vampire to be.  Ramirez delivered her sarcastic dialogue with just the right amount of bite.  (Heh heh, see what I did there?)

If the director’s name seems familiar, that’s because Vanessa Parise has directed several Lifetime movies.  She does a good job with Drink Slay Love, keeping the story moving at a good pace and getting good performances from the entire cast.

What Did Not Work?

To be honest, I liked the whole film.  Even the occasionally sketchy CGI added to the film’s charm.

“Oh my God!  Just like me moments!”

I related to Pearl.  Well, I didn’t necessarily relate to the blood sucking.  But I was really sarcastic when I was sixteen, too.  Plus, I always used to dress in black and then dare anyone to make a comment about it… (Actually, not that much has changed since then…)

Lessons Learned

Canada and Vampires are a good combination!

Music Video of the Day: Sorry You Asked? by Dwight Yoakam (1996, dir. Dwight Yoakam)

It’s time to pick up with Harry Dean Stanton’s character from Heart Of Stone. This time we find out his name is Bobby Watkins. The video plays the same till about one minute and fifty seconds. That’s where the videos split.

We see Bobby go into the skating rink with two sets of skates, but we’ll soon see that he has no partner for the couples-only skating period.

Bobby starts skating on his own when we get my favorite bit with Stanton. Am I smoking? How did that get there? Let me just toss it like I have no idea where it came from. He also tells him he can’t be out there during couples-only.

Office-guy sits down with Bobby, and he asks what happen to Carolyn. I assume she’s the lady from Heart Of Stone.

That’s when the video launches into the song at close to four minutes into the video. I wonder how much this was edited when it was aired. That’s a lot of build-up regardless of the fact that music plays during it.

This is the better video between this and Heart Of Stone. Not only do we get to see Stanton onstage with Yoakam, but…

we also get a more playful Dwight Yoakam.

It works well in contrast to Stanton.

This works especially well when Yoakam fades his own vocals out at the end before you would expect, and then drops you off emotionally by cutting to Stanton singing the chorus in black-and-white.

This might be my favorite of the Harry Dean Stanton videos. He was a good choice for this even if his age makes Heart Of Stone seem a little ridiculous. That’s assuming I put these in the correct order and that she was supposed to be Carolyn. Enjoy!

Harry Dean Stanton Retrospective:

  1. Heart Of Stone by Dwight Yoakam (1996, dir. Dwight Yoakam)