Double Your Reading Pleasure With “Detective! Double Digest”

Ryan C.'s Four Color Apocalypse

The old saying goes that “you’re either on something, or you’re onto something” — and it seems as if Minneapolis cartoonist Peter Faecke might just be onto something with these “flip-book” split releases that he’s been doing, so after sharing the workload and cover space with A. T. Pratt for last year’s Wacky Western Double Digest, he’s back with a new dual release with one of my absolute favorite emerging cartoonists, Drew Lerman, this one focused on a detective story theme and bearing the admittedly unimaginative, but nevertheless apropos, title of Detective! Double Digest. So, yeah, it’s exactly what you think it is.

Especially if you think it’s going to be good, because this top-notch mini in certainly that. The two-color riso printing scheme employed by publishing imprint Really Easy Press is spot-on, the black/gray and pink gradations bringing the whimsical tone of both the stories and…

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Cave-In! (1983, directed by Georg Fenady)

Sen. Kate Lassiter (Susan Sullivan) is visiting a cave in order to determine whether it’s safe to leave it open to the public.  Giving the senator and her group the grand tour is Gene Pearson (Dennis Cole), who is not only a park ranger but who is also Kate’s ex-boyfriend.  The question as to whether or not the cave is safe for the general public is answered by a sudden cave-in, which leaves Kate, Gene, and the others trapped.  Now, Gene has to lead the group across often dangerous terrain to safety.

Along with Kate, the group includes a bitter cop named Joe Johnson (Leslie Nielsen!), his wife Liz (Julie Sommars), arrogant Prof. Harrison Soames (Ray Milland), and the professor’s shy daughter, Ann (Sheila Larkin).  Joe and Liz are struggling to keep their marriage together.  Prof. Soames refuses to allow his daughter to have a life of her own.  The six of them are going to have to somehow work together if they’re going to survive this cave-in!  Of course, they’re not alone.  There’s a seventh person in the cave.  Tom Arlen (James Olson) is a dangerous convict who was in the cave hiding out from the police.  Now, he’s trapped along with everyone else.

Cave-In is a pretty standard disaster movie.  Produced by Irwin Allen, it was originally filmed in 1979 but it didn’t air on NBC until 1983.  By that time, Airplane! had pretty much reduced the disaster genre to a joke.  Ironically, Leslie Nielsen himself has a starring role in Cave-In, playing exactly the type of character that he parodied in both Airplane! and Police Squad.  At the time he filmed Cave-In, Neilsen was still a dramatic actor but by the time the movie aired, his deadpan style was firmly associated with comedy.  Even when his dialogue is serious, the natural instinct is to laugh.

Cave-In gets bogged down by flashbacks.  Even though everyone should be concentrating on making their way to safety, it instead seems that they’re too busy obsessing on their backstory.  Since no one’s backstory is that interesting, the flashbacks don’t do much to liven up the film and, unfortunately, a cave-in just isn’t as compelling as a fire in skyscraper or an upside down boat.

On the plus side, every disaster movie needs an arrogant bastard who makes escape unnecessarily difficult and, in the 70s, no one played a better arrogant bastard Ray Milland.  Otherwise, Cave-In is a forgettable entry from the final days of the disaster genre.

Lifetime Film Review: The Baby Monitor Murders (dir by Danny J. Boyle)

Apple Springs, Washington might seem like a nice little town but appearances can be deceiving.  Mallory Raymond has gone missing and no one can find her.  The local sheriff seems to suspect that her husband, Glenn (Dustin Lloyd). may have had something to do with it.  Meanwhile, Glenn is spending all of his time in the park where Mallory was last seen.  Is he searching for his wife or is he searching for another victim?

While Mallory is busy disappearing, Cassie (Natalie Sharp) is busy returning.  Cassie grew up in Apple Springs and she’s just returned from college.  She thought she was going to get an internship with a music label but that fell through.  Now, it looks like like Cassie is going to have to spend the entire summer stuck at her parent’s house.  That’s fine with her parents, of course.  They’re heading to Paris and they need someone to housesit.

Not wanting to spend another summer working at the local diner, Cassie is very happy when she just happens to run into Chloe Paine (Nicole LaPlaca), a lawyer who is planning on returning to work but who desperately needs someone to look after her daughter, Becca.  Chloe asks Cassie if she wants the job and Cassie accepts.

Soon, Cassie is spending hours a day over at the Paine house, taking care of Becca.  She gets to know Chloe’s husband, the seemingly friendly Tom Paine (Jon Cor).  She also gets to know Glenn, who it turns out just happens to work with Tom.  Cassie can’t help but notice that Tom and Glenn seem to always be arguing about something.

Strange things start to happen.  One night, Cassie is sure that she’s being watched.  Another night, she hears a menacing voice come over the baby monitor but, when she checks out Becca’s room, she doesn’t find anyone there.  And then, much like Mallory before her, Chloe disappears!

Where has Chloe gone?  Has she been kidnapped?  Has she been murdered?  And if that’s the case, who’s responsible?  Is it Tom, the seemingly perfect husband who seems to have a few secrets hiding underneath the friendly surface?  Or is it Glenn, who appears to be obviously unstable but who swears that the only thing he cares about is discovering what happened to his wife?  Even though almost everyone tells Cassie that she should just quit her job and stay away from the Paines, Cassie knows that would mean abandoning Beeca and that’s not something that she’s willing to do….

The Baby Monitor Murders, which initially aired way back in January, was originally entitled The Babysitter and really, that’s a better title for the film.  While the scene with the voice coming over the baby monitor is an undeniably creepy one, it’s also a rather minor one.  The film’s focus is much more on Cassie and her growing realization that she’s found herself in a dangerous and potentially deadly situation.  Natalie Sharp gives a good and sympathetic performance as Cassie, making her devotion to Becca feel believable and, as a result, giving this film a bit more emotional depth than the typical Lifetime film.  The mystery itself is frequently intriguing and you’ll find yourself going back and forth on whether Glenn or Tom is the one who Cassie should be weary of.  All in all, The Baby Monitor Murders is a good Lifetime film that will keep you guessing.

Song of the Day: Main Theme From The Cat O’Nine Tails by Ennio Morricone

Today’s song of the day the main theme from Dario Argento’s The Cat O’Nine Tails.  Ennio Morricone’s score brought a lot of atmosphere to Argento’s classic giallo.

And here it is:

Previous Entries In Our Tribute To Morricone:

  1. Deborah’s Theme (Once Upon A Time In America)
  2. Violaznioe Violenza (Hitch-Hike)
  3. Come Un Madrigale (Four Flies on Grey Velvet)
  4. Il Grande Silenzio (The Great Silence)
  5. The Strength of the Righteous (The Untouchables)
  6. So Alone (What Have You Done To Solange?)
  7. The Main Theme From The Mission (The Mission)
  8. The Return (Days of Heaven)
  9. Man With A Harmonic (Once Upon A Time In The West)
  10. The Ecstasy of Gold (The Good, The Bad, and the Ugly)
  11. The Main Theme From The Good, The Bad, and the Ugly (The Good, The Bad, and the Ugly)
  12. Regan’s Theme (The Exorcist II: The Heretic)
  13. Desolation (The Thing)
  14. The Legend of the Pianist (The Legend of 1900)
  15. Theme From Frantic (Frantic)
  16. La Lucertola (Lizard In A Woman’s Skin)
  17. Spasmodicamente (Spasmo)
  18. The Theme From The Stendhal Syndrome (The Stendhal Syndrome)
  19. My Name Is Nobody (My Name Is Nobody)
  20. Piume di Cristallo (The Bird With The Crystal Plumage)
  21. For Love One Can Die (D’amore si muore)
  22. Chi Mai (various)
  23. La Resa (The Big Gundown)
  24. Main Title Theme (Red Sonja)


Lifetime Film Review: Engaged To A Psycho (dir by Sam Irvin)

After dating for a very long time, Deanna (Anna Hutchison) and Karl (Jason-Shane Scott) are finally getting married!

Yay!  Everyone loves a big wedding!

And, even before Karl asks Deanna to marry him, he’s purchased a large house for them to live in!

Yay!  Everyone loves a big house!

But first, Deanna needs to meet Karl’s family and that means going to an even bigger house!


Wait a minute …. Deanna hasn’t met Karl’s family, yet?

Seriously, everyone, that should be a big red flag.  I don’t care how rich your boyfriend is, you don’t accept his marriage proposal before you’ve met his family.  After all, his family could be …. well, the could be crazy.  Or they might meet you and then decide that they don’t like you or maybe they like you but they still think that their son (or brother or stepbrother) could do better.  Or — and this especially happens in Lifetime movie — someone might start murdering all the members of your wedding party.

All of that happens in Engaged To A Psycho.  Engaged To A Psycho premiered on the Lifetime Movie Network back in May but, according to the imdb, the film was actually around a while before making it’s official LMN premiere.  It played in Canada back in 2018 and then, in 2019, it showed up on television in the UK, Spain, and France.  At the time, it was known as Murder at the Mansion.  By the time it premiered here in the States, the name had been changed to Engaged To A Psycho.  (Lifetime was going through a Psycho cycle.  Try saying that six times fast.)

Anyway, regardless of the title, Engaged To A Psycho is a fun little movie.  As soon as Deanna shows up at, she meets Karl’s mother, Ivy (Audrey Landers) and his adopted sister, Ruby (Melissa Bolona).  Ivy makes it clear that she thinks her son could have done better than Deanna.  Ruby, meanwhile, is almost too friendly and seems to be trying way too hard to convince Deanna that Deanna is welcome in the family.  It soon becomes obvious, than even though the family is living in a gigantic mansion, the rooms and the hallways are full of secrets, lies, and murder.  Soon people are dying all over the place.

One thing I liked about Engaged To A Psycho is that there were plenty of POV shots from the killer’s point of view.  It gave the whole a film a sort of giallo feel while also hiding the killer’s identity.  It also led to a lot of scenes of people looking straight at the camera and saying stuff like, “I knew it was you!  Wait here while I go tell everyone!”  Well, needless to say, the killer isn’t big on waiting.

The other thing I liked about Engaged To A Psycho is that it had a sense of humor about itself.  Ivy is so extremely unimpressed by Deanna that it actually becomes rather hilarious how dismissive she is.  It doesn’t matter how many times Deanna nearly gets killed, Ivy refuses to accept her word that there’s something strange going on.

I liked Engaged to a Psycho.  There were a lot of murders, a lot of archly delivered dialogue, and a lot of big houses.  What more can you ask for?

4 Shots From 4 Films: Special Richard Linklater Edition

4 Shots From 4 Films is just what it says it is, 4 shots from 4 of our favorite films. As opposed to the reviews and recaps that we usually post, 4 Shots From 4 Films lets the visuals do the talking!

Today, we wish a happy 60th birthday to Texas’s greatest filmmaker, Richard Linklater!

That means that it’s time for….

4 Shots From 4 Films

Slacker (1991, dir by Richard Linklater)

Dazed and Confused (1993, dir by Richard Linklater)

Before Sunset (2004, dir by Richard Linklater)

Boyhood (2014, dir by Richard Linklater)

Guilty Pleasure No. 47: The Powers of Matthew Star

A few weeks ago, I was looking through the Guide and I noticed that MeTV had apparently started airing a show called The Powers of Matthew Star.

The name immediately intrigued me, though I wasn’t quite sure why.  I think that some of it just had to do with how silly it sounded.  The Powers of Matthew Star.  Of course, someone named Matthew Star would have powers.  But what type of powers?  Since his last name was Star, it would probably be a good guess that they would be extraterrestrial powers and since his first name was Matthew, it stood to reason that he was either an angel or a human-alien hybrid, or perhaps an alien pretending to be a human.

As I pondered just who Matthew Star could be and what his powers were, I suddenly realized the real reason why the title jumped out at me.  I had actually heard of this show before.  Several years ago, while I was reviewing all of the Friday the 13th films for this site, I came across several references to The Powers of Matthew Star.  That was because the show had featured by Amy Steel (who survived Friday the 13th Part II) and Peter Barton (who did not survive Friday the 13th — The Final Chapter).

Because The Powers of Matthew Star airs at four in the morning (Sunday morning, to be exact) I set the DVR to record it.  I’ve now watched a handful of episodes and I like the show, even though I’m still not really sure what’s going on.

As I suspected, Matthew Star (played by Peter Barton) is an alien who is pretending to be a human.  Each episode opens with a narrator explaining how Matthew Star ended up on Earth but I have to admit that I’ve found the narration next to impossible to actually follow.  As far as I can tell, Matthew Star is actually a member of alien royalty but, after his home planet was either conquer or blew up, he had to go to Earth in order to hide out from another alien race that wants to destroy him.  Because he looks like a teenager, Matthew has to go to high school and deal with high school stuff while, at the same time, solving crimes for the government.  As far as his powers are concerned, he can apparently move stuff with his mind but he has to be careful about moving too much because then his cover might get blown and the aliens that are searching for him might destroy Earth.

Matthew’s guardian is Walt Shepherd (Louis Gossett, Jr.), who is a teacher at the high school and who knows about Matthew’s powers.  I think Walt is actually supposed to be another alien, though the episodes I’ve seen have not exactly been clear about this.  Matthew’s best friend is Pam (Amy Steel), who is the editor of the school newspaper.  Matthew has a crush on her but he’s not sure if he can ask her to prom because he’s an alien and he’s got other aliens looking for him.

From what I’ve seen, the show’s a bit silly.  For instance, one episode featured Matthew and Shepherd going to Italy on some sort of top secret government job.  The very next episode featured Matthew using his powers to win a high school football game and it ended with a message about the importance of education.  Despite my love of Italy, I preferred the football game episode to the secret agent episode.  The football game episode was so achingly sincere that it was hard not to enjoy it.

And really, from what I’ve seen, that’s the main appeal of The Powers of Matthew Star.  It’s silly and the plot is difficult to follow but there’s an overwhelming sincerity to the show’s portrayal of Matthew as an alien who just wants to save the Earth, enjoy high school, and work up the courage to ask Pam out on a date.  If I had been alive and like 13 years old in 1982, I would have had such a huge crush on Peter Barton.  Barton is incredibly likable as Matthew Star and he and Amy Steel are a cute couple whenever the show allows them to get together.

Unfortunately, according to Wikipedia, it appears that the whole high school angle of the show was dropped after the first 12 episodes.  (MeTV is only 7 episodes in.)  Starting with the 13th episode, Matthew was no longer a high school student, Amy Steel was no longer on the show, and every episode featured Matthew and Shepherd exclusively using their powers to defeat terrorists and other criminals.  That doesn’t sound like it’ll be as much fun.  I’ll probably stop DVRing the show once that happens.

Until then, though, I’m enjoying the adventures of Matthew Star, alien royalty-turned-high school student!

Previous Guilty Pleasures

  1. Half-Baked
  2. Save The Last Dance
  3. Every Rose Has Its Thorns
  4. The Jeremy Kyle Show
  5. Invasion USA
  6. The Golden Child
  7. Final Destination 2
  8. Paparazzi
  9. The Principal
  10. The Substitute
  11. Terror In The Family
  12. Pandorum
  13. Lambada
  14. Fear
  15. Cocktail
  16. Keep Off The Grass
  17. Girls, Girls, Girls
  18. Class
  19. Tart
  20. King Kong vs. Godzilla
  21. Hawk the Slayer
  22. Battle Beyond the Stars
  23. Meridian
  24. Walk of Shame
  25. From Justin To Kelly
  26. Project Greenlight
  27. Sex Decoy: Love Stings
  28. Swimfan
  29. On the Line
  30. Wolfen
  31. Hail Caesar!
  32. It’s So Cold In The D
  33. In the Mix
  34. Healed By Grace
  35. Valley of the Dolls
  36. The Legend of Billie Jean
  37. Death Wish
  38. Shipping Wars
  39. Ghost Whisperer
  40. Parking Wars
  41. The Dead Are After Me
  42. Harper’s Island
  43. The Resurrection of Gavin Stone
  44. Paranormal State
  45. Utopia
  46. Bar Rescue