What Lisa Watched Last Night #197: My Daughter’s Ransom (dir by Doug Campbell)

On Thursday, I watched the first Lifetime film of 2019, My Daughter’s Ransom!

(a.k.a. My Daughter’s Ransom)

Why Was I Watching It?

New year, new lifetime movies!  Every year brings changes but one thing that will never change will be my love for these films and the enjoyment I get from reviewing them.

What Was It About?

Rachel (Scottie Thompson) has a good life.  Her husband, Tony (Matthew Pohlkamp), is a successful businessman who is on the verge of finalizing a big deal.  Her daughter, Lindsey (McKinley Blehm), is intelligent enough to know all about the theories of Charles Darwin.

Unfortunately, Rachel also has an ex-boyfriend named Carter (Lucas Kerr).  Carter’s just been released from prison and, as quickly becomes apparent, his incarceration did not lead to rehabilitation.  After spending months stalking Rachel and her family, Carter kidnaps Lindsey at the zoo.  If Rachel doesn’t do everything that Carter orders her to do, he’ll kill her daughter.

As Rachel tries to figure out a way to save her daughter, she also has to keep following Carter’s orders, which are not only increasingly outlandish but also increasingly dangerous for both Rachel and everyone that she loves….

What Worked?

As anyone who has spent any time watching the channel can tell you, the theme of abduction is a popular one when it comes to Lifetime movies.  That’s because these films deal with the fears that every parent has, not only that your child will be abducted but that you’ll be powerless to rescue them.  My Daughter’s Ransom did a good job of making that fear feel real, especially in the early moments when Rachel was desperately running around the zoo, looking for her daughter.  (The camera holds Rachel in a tight close-up while she searches for her daughter, emphasizing Rachel’s desperation to find her.)

For a film like this to work, you need a good villain and Lucas Kerr did a great job making Carter into the type of creepy, hissable bad guy who you just couldn’t wait to see get his comeuppance.  In the role of Rachel, Scottie Thompson also did great work and it was impossible not to sympathize with her as she tried to get someone to notice that she was in trouble without Carter figuring out what she was doing.

In fact, the entire cast did a great job.  My two favorite supporting characters were Gina (Davida Williams), the wife of Tony’s business partner, and Skates (Erika Fong), Tony’s secretary.  Neither one of them was willing to put up with any nonsense.  Personally, I think we need a sequel where Gina and Skates team up and solve crimes.

What Did Not Work?

It all worked!  My Daughter’s Ransom got the year off to a good start.

“Oh my God!  Just like me!” Moments

Much like Rachel, I once had a weakness for bad boys.  Actually, now that I think about it, I still do.  That said, the character I most admired was Skates because it didn’t matter how much Carter ordered Rachel to yell at her and threaten to fire her, Skates wasn’t going to let anyone stop her from doing her job.

Lessons Learned

Bad boys never change.

“Little Teeth,” Big Bite (Advance Review)

Ryan C.'s Four Color Apocalypse

I’m not sue what it is about anthropomorphic animals and the LGBTQ+ comics community, but for the second time in less than a year, we’ve got a tandem of queer creators releasing a book of vignette-style stories centered on the broadly-defined “queer experience.” First out of the gate was Remy Boydell and Michelle Perez’ The Pervert from Image Comics, well-reviewed in most quarters (including this one) and focused on the hard-scrabble life of a trans protagonist subsisting on the economic margins, and in the next few weeks Czap Books will be releasing Little Teeth, drawn by Rory Frances and written by Jae Bearhat, that transposes the so-called “funny animal” trope into a queer communal living situation.

Beyond the more fluid sexual and gender identities and the tails and fur, though, it should be noted that the two books have very little in common, conceptually and tonally, and this points…

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Cleaning Out The DVR: Killer Body (dir by David I. Strasser)

(I recorded Killer Body off of Lifetime on December 30th.)

Oh my God, this was a great movie!

Okay, so check this out.  Once upon a time, there was a medical student named Elizabeth (Lindsay Maxwell) who felt like she was being shunned and ignored by her classmates.  She had a crush on a doctor named Chris (Peter Benson) but Chris was in love with Katie Jones (Sunny Mabrey),  Eventually, Elizabeth ended up having a total melt down and was forced to drop out of medical school.  Elizabeth become obsessed with plastic surgery, hoping to make herself look perfect (which, in this case, meant looking more and more like Katie).  Now going by the name Liz Oakley, she goes from doctor to doctor, getting work done and then suing them for malpractice.  And if she can’t get your medical license taken away, she’ll just spray you with poison perfume.  Seriously, this film features 4 separate attacks by toxic perfume.

One day, Liz shows up at Katie’s office and, until Liz introduced herself, Katie doesn’t even recognize her.  Liz wants some minor work done and she claims that she’s been referred by one of Katie’s colleagues.  Of course, Liz soon proves herself to be just as unstable as you might expect someone who regularly murders people to be.  Soon, all Katie’s like, “I don’t want you as my patient anymore,” and Liz is like, “Fine, I’ll just destroy your life.”

Soon, Liz is showing up on a college campus and making a seriously awkward attempt to befriend Liz’s daughter.  Katie and Chris (whose brilliant medical career has been brought to an end by a stroke) take out a restraining order but there’s nothing in that order that can stop Liz from going to another, less ethical plastic surgeon and having more work done in her quest to be perfect and to look more like Katie.  Of course, when the surgery results in Liz having a barely noticeable scar on her chin, it’s not a good thing…

Obviously, the success of a film like this pretty much hinges on the actress who is cast as the stalker/psycho character and fortunately, Liz is played by Lindsay Maxwell.  Maxwell turns Liz into a force of  uncontrollable, narcissistic nature and one of the more entertaining aspects of the film is watching as Liz goes from smiling to screaming in just a matter of seconds.  On the one hand, Liz is a complete psycho but, on the other hand, who hasn’t wanted to be perfect and who hasn’t, at least once, thought about they would do to achieve that perfection?  Maxwell wisely adds just a bit of vulnerability to the character, making Liz a psycho to whom you can relate.  Sunny Mabrey and Peter Benson also contribute good performance but ultimately, the film is dominated by Lindsay Maxwell and her bottle of killer perfume.

Killer Body was a killer melodrama, exactly the type of movie that we watch Lifetime to see.  Between the murders and the intrigue and the attempts to fool Chris into committing adultery, this was a wonderfully entertaining look at just how far people will go to achieve perfection.

Happy Noir Year!: THE BIG COMBO (United Artists 1955)

cracked rear viewer

(ATTENTION: There’s a surprise waiting for you at the end of this post, so read on…)

Joseph H. Lewis started his directing career with low-budget Westerns starring singing cowboy Bob Baker and East Side Kids programmers, and ended it back on the range doing epsiodes of THE RIFLEMAN, GUNSMOKE, and THE BIG VALLEY. In between, he created some of the finest films noir the genre has to offer: MY NAME IS JULIA ROSS , SO DARK THE NIGHT, THE UNDERCOVER MAN, and especially GUN CRAZY . His last big screen noir outing is the culmination of his work in the genre, 1955’s THE BIG COMBO.

The plot is fairly simple: Police Lt. Leonard Diamond is out to crack gangster Mr. Brown’s “combination”, which controls crime in the city. But Philip Yordan’s screenplay takes that plot and adds exciting twists and turns, indelible characters, and a level of violence audiences weren’t…

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Music Video Of The Day: Elegantly Wasted by INXS (1997, directed by Michael Stern)

The 1990s was a decade when many bands, who otherwise had little in common, were bonded together by a mutual hatred for Oasis.

Originally hailed as being the second coming of the Beatles, Oasis was fronted by two brothers, Liam and Noel Gallagher.  At the height of Oasis’s popularity, the Gallaghers never hesitated to let it be known how little they thought of their musical competition.  At the 1996 Brit Awards, when Noel Gallagher received an award from INXS’s Michael Hutchence, he accepted by saying, “Has-beens should not be presenting awards to gonna-bes.”  Backstage, Hutchence got into a scuffle with the other Gallagher brother, Liam.  Apparently, Liam made some disparaging remarks about Hutchence’s then-girlfriend, Paula Yates.  Hutchence reacted by throwing a fire extinguisher at Liam.

Following the altercation, Hutchence went to the recording studio and added some additional vocals to the chorus of the song that would become the title track to INXS’s upcoming album, Elegantly Wasted.  The original chorus was “I am elegantly wasted.”  Hutchence added, “I am better than Oasis.”  You have to listen carefully for it but it’s definitely there.

(The rest of INXS reportedly didn’t find out about Hutchence’s additions until several months later, when the album was released.)

As for the song itself, depending on which source you consult, it was originally inspired by either a pub crawl with U2’s Bono or by Hutchence’s relationship with Yates.  The video was filmed in Los Angeles, on a set that was made up to resemble an airport.  While the song may not have been as big a hit as the some of INXS’s previous releases (it peaked at 20 in the UK and 48 in Australia), it did reach the number one spot on the Canadian charts.

Sadly, it would also be one of the last INXS single to be released in Michael Hutchence’s lifetime.  Hutchence committed suicide in November of 1997.  He was 37 yeas old.