Lifetime Film Review: Desperate Widows (dir by Lane Shefter Bishop)

Some people are cult people and some people aren’t.

Me, I’ve never been a cult person. Some of that’s because, as a result of my ADD, I get bored way too easily to spend hours listening to some deranged cult leader give a speech. Some of that is because I’m naturally suspicious of people who try too hard to convince me that they’re always happy and excited and enthusiastic, which is something that I’ve noticed people in cults seem to do. I’m a big believer in doing what you want. I’m also a big believer in the idea that I already know all the answers to life’s big questions so I’m really not vulnerable to people who claim otherwise. That’s one of the many advantages of believing in yourself.

Another reason why I could never join a cult is because I hate the idea of living on a commune. The whole idea of being forced to create a community with a bunch of strangers just creeps me out. Add to that, I’m not a fan of living in impersonal dorms and I don’t really like doing farmwork and I’m not into sing-alongs around the campfire. I certainly don’t like camping and or living in buildings that don’t have any running water. Commune living is just not for me and fortunately, that will always make me immune to being brainwashed into joining a cult.

In the Lifetime film Desperate Widows, Dianne (Allison McAtee) insists that she doesn’t run a commune. Sure, it may look like a commune and it may have a lot of commune-style rules and everyone acts like they’re living on a commune but Dianne insists that she actually runs a …. wait for it …. a mommune! It’s a retreat for moms and their daughters, one that is especially popular with moms who have just lost a husband. It can do wonderful things for people, just as long as everyone’s willing to follow the rules. For one thing, the moms and daughters are separated and sent to live in separate dorms. For another thing, everyone has to do manual labor for most of the day and anyone who fails to take it seriously will run the risk of being put in isolation.


As soon as recently widowed Paige (Justine Eyre) and her teenage daughter, Allie (Olivia Stuck) arrive at the comm …. sorry, excuse me …. mommune, they suspect that there’s something not quite right about the place. Allie figures it out pretty quickly. It takes Paige a day or two longer, despite the fact that Paige is a best-selling writer of thrillers and you would figure that she would know better than to trust a bunch of secretive people living out in the middle of nowhere. Soon, both Paige and Allie want to leave but it turns out that leaving is not going to be easy. This mommune is full of all sorts of sordid secrets that dangerous people do not want revealed to the rest of the world.

This Lifetime film required a healthy suspension of disbelief. The same can be said about most Lifetime films but this one required even more than usual. That said, if you can accept that Paige would ever have been stupid enough to go to the mommune in the first place, Desperate Widows is entertaining. I liked Allison McAtee’s performance as the sinister Dianne and Justine Eyre and Olivia Stuck were believable as mother and daughter. What I really appreciated is that it didn’t take long for Paige to be like, “This place is messed up,” and to realize that she needed to find her daughter and escape.

Most importantly, Desperate Widows served as a warning against commune living. That’s a message that everyone can get behind.

Lifetime Film Review: Dangerous Medicine (dir by Jeff Hare)

There’s a scene in Dangerous Medicine in which Daphne (Leeann Van Mol), the physical therapist who has abandonment issues, is seen looking up something online. The camera swings around so that we can see exactly what she’s looked up.

“HOW TO AMPUTATE AN ARM” the website reads. Underneath the big bold headline, there are drawings of an arm, highlighting the exact places where one should start chopping.

Having looked at the website and (we hope) studied it carefully, she then proceeds to get a hacksaw before heading into the bedroom, where her latest patient is tied to the bed.

That’s the moment that I shouted, “Oh my God, this is one of the greatest Lifetime films ever!”

And seriously, it is. This is why people like me watch Lifetime films. We watch them for scenes like this. We watch them for wonderfully self-aware moments like this, where an unstable but determined character quickly reads up on how to do something insanely complicated and then proceeds to try to do it in what will undoubtedly be the messiest way possible. Leave it to other networks to worry about the exact logic of amputation and hacksaws and removing limbs without anesthetic. Lifetime knows that we’re not watching for reality. We’re watching for gloriously over the top mayhem like this.

Dangerous Medicine delivers everything you could want from a Lifetime film. Tony (Chris Cimperman) is a high school track star who loses the use of his legs in a car crash. His mother, Ellen (Meredith Thomas), and his girlfriend, Jasmine (Choe Stafford), are determined to support him as he struggles to learn how to walk again. At first, Daphne seems like the perfect therapist but it turns out that she does have some issues. For instance, the first time that we see Daphne, a man is trying to kill her and, for a good deal of the film, that man keeps popping up and staring at Daphne as she goes about her day. There’s also the fact that Daphne sometimes seems to be determined to keep Tony away from both his mother and his girlfriend. Soon, both Ellen and Jasmine are suspicious of Daphne but Tony swears that she’s the best therapist ever. Are Ellen and Jasmine just being paranoid or has Daphne managed to brainwash her patient?

Well, you probably already know that answer to that. Actually, if you read the first four paragraphs of this review, you you already know the answer. The whole thing about looking up how to amputate an arm probably gave it away. But that’s okay. Part of the appeal of Lifetime films is that you know that the sexy stranger is always going to turn out to be dangerous, just as you know that the mother is always going to be right and usually, the loyal and bookish girlfriend is going to know what she’s talking about as well. From the start, you know that Daphne’s going to end up snapping. The entertainment comes from trying to predict what will be the exact moment that will push her over the edge and how many people she’ll end up killing as a result.

Dangerous Medicine, like all good Lifetime films, is a tremendous amount of fun. Leeann Van Mol especially deserves credit for going over the edge with style and keeping a straight face even when she’s carrying around a hacksaw. Dangerous Medicine is everything that we love about Lifetime.

Music Video of the Day: Operation: Mindcrime by Queensrÿche (1988, directed by Chris Painter)

Operation: Mindcrime is the title track from Queensrÿche’s third studio album. The album was considered to be the band’s breakthrough album and, unlike a lot of heavy metal from the 80s, it still has a good critical reputation to this day. I’m not a huge Queensrÿche fan but I have to admit that the bass line in the title track is pretty awesome.

The album was a concept album, about a junkie named Nikki who was turned into an assassin by the evil Dr. X. (As with most concept albums, the plot was actually much more complicated but I’ve only got so much space for this post.) For the album, this song was about how Dr. X could program Nikki to kill simply by saying, “Mindcrime.” The video, while containing all of the themes from the overall album, simplifies things to two men playing Russian Roulette while sitting in an office that’s decorated with a portrait of Stalin.

This video was directed by Chris Painter, who directed several other Operation: Mindcrime videos and who also did the video for Rush’s Roll The Bones.