2015 in Review: The Best of Lifetime


Today, I continue my look back at 2015 by posting my picks for the best of Lifetime!  My nominees for the best Lifetime films and performances are listed below, with the winners starred and listed in bold!  Congratulations to all the nominees and winners and thank you for making this one of the most entertaining years in my long history of watching Lifetime movies!

deadly-adoption

Best Picture
Babysitter’s Black Book, produced by Robert Ballo and Ken Sanders.
Cleveland Abduction, produced by David A. Rosemont and Stephen Tolkin
*A Deadly Adoption, produced by Fritz Manger, Max Osswald, Will Ferrell, and Adam McKay.*
If There Be Thorns, produced by Richard D. Arredondo and Harvey Kahn.
A Mother’s Instinct, produced by Oliver De Caigny and Timothy O. Johnson
Patient Killer, produced by Barbie Castro.
The Secret Life of Marilyn Monroe, produced by Joseph Boccia, Don Carmody, and David Cormican.
The Spirit of Christmas, produced by Andrea Ajemian
Stalked By My Neighbor, produced by Robert Ballo.
The Unauthorized Beverly Hills 90210 Story, produced by Ian Hay.

Best Director
Jason Bourque for A Mother’s Instinct
Doug Campbell for Stalked By My Neighbor.
*Rachel Goldenberg for A Deadly Adoption*
Alex Kalymnois for Cleveland Abduction
Vanessa Parise for The Unauthorized Beverly Hills 90210 Story
Casper Van Dien for Patient Killer

deadly-adoption-trailer

Best Actor
Shaun Benson in Kept Woman
Dan Castellaneta in The Unauthorized Beverly Hills 90210 Story
*Will Ferrell in A Deadly Adoption*
Travis Hammer in The Bride He Bought Online
Adam Kaufman in A Mother Betrayed
Eric Roberts in Stalked By My Doctor

Best Actress
Josie Bissett in A Mother’s Instinct
Anna Camp in Caught
Kimberly Elise in Back to School Mom
Kelli Garner in The Secret Life of Marilyn Monroe
*Taryn Manning in Cleveland Abduction*
Kelcie Stranahan in Stalked By My Neighbor

Best Supporting Actor
Ken Camroux-Taylor in Sugarbabies
MacKenzie Gray in If There Be Thorns
Richard Harmon in A Mother’s Instinct
*Patrick Muldoon in Patient Killer.*
Eric Roberts in A Fatal Obsession
Peter Strauss in Sugar Daddies.

Unauthorized Beverly Hills

Best Supporting Actress
Angeline Appel in Babysitter’s Black Book.
Barbie Castro in Patient Killer
Olivia d’Abo in Stolen From The Suburbs
Sarah Grey in A Mother’s Instinct
Jessica Lowndes in A Deadly Adoption
*Samantha Munro in The Unauthorized Beverly Hills 90210 Story*

Best Adapted Screenplay
*Cleveland Abduction, written by Stephen Tolkin*
If There Be Thorns, written by Andy Cochran.
The Secret Life of Marilyn Monroewritten by Stephen Kronish and J. Randy Taraborrelli.
Seeds of Yesterday, written by Darren Stein.
Turkey Hollow, written by Tim Burns and Christopher Baldi.
Wuthering High School, written by Delondra Williams.

Best Original Screenplay
*Babysitter’s Black Book, written by Richard Kletter and Michele Samit*
A Deadly Adoption, written by Andrew Steele.
The Murder Pact, written by John Doolan
Patient Killer, written by Bryan Dick and Brian D. Young.
Stalked By My Neighborwritten by Doug Campbell.
Stolen From The Suburbs, written by Alex Wright

clevelandabduction

Best Cinematography
*Cleveland Abduction, Richard Wong.*
Fatal Obsession, Ronnee Swenton.
If There Be Thorns, James Liston.
The Murder PactBranden James Maxham.
Patient Killer, Bernard Salzmann
The Spirit of Christmas, Michael Negrin.

Best Costume Design
Grace of Monaco, Gigi Lepage
If There Be ThornsShanna Mair, Rebekka Sorensen.
Kept Woman
*The Secret Life of Marilyn Monroe, Gersha Phillips.*
Seeds of Yesterday, Claire Nadon.
The Spirit of Christmas, Jennifer Lynn Tremblay.

Best Editing
Babysitter’s Black Book, Ely Mennin
Cleveland Abduction, Henk Van Eeghen.
*A Deadly Adoption, Bill Parker.*
A Mother’s Instinct
Stalked By My Neighbor, Clayton Woodhull.
The Unauthorized Beverly Hills 90210 Story, Allan Lee.

Best Makeup and Hairstyling
*Cleveland Abduction, Dugg Kirkpatrick, Susan R. Prosser, Tina Roesler Kewin, Alan Tuskes, Alicia Zavarella*
Grace of Monaco
If There Be Thorns, Jenine Lehfeldt, Tana Lynn Moldovanos.
The Secret Life of Marilyn Monroe.  Jordan Samuel, Cliona Furey
The Spirit of Christmas
The Unauthorized Beverly Hills 90210 Story, Amber Crombach.

Best Original Score
Dangerous Company
Cleveland Abduction, Tony Morales.
Her Infidelity, Russ Howard III
Kidnapped: The Hannah Anderson Story, Matthew Janszen
*The Murder Pact, Matthew Llewellyn.*
Sugar Daddies.  Steve Gurevitch.

heather-graham-if-there-be-thorns

Best Production Design
Cleveland Abduction, Derek R. Hill.
*If There Be Thorns, Linda Del Rosario, Richard Paris.*
A Mother’s Instinct, Jason Sober.
The Murder Pact, Caley Bisson.
The Secret Life of Marilyn Monroe.  Rocco Matteo.
The Unauthroized Beverly Hills 90210 Story

Best Sound
*The Bride He Bought Online*
Dangerous Company
If There Be Thorns
Stalked By My Neighbor
UnGodly Acts
Whitney.

Best Visual Effects
Becoming Santa
If There Be Thorns
Last Chance For Christmas
*Turkey Hollow*
When the Sky Falls
Wish Upon A Christmas

Tomorrow, I’ll post my picks for the worst 16 films of 2015!

A-Deady-adoption-dancing

Previous Entries In The Best of 2015:

  1. Valerie Troutman’s 25 Best, Worst, and Gems I Saw in 2015
  2. Necromoonyeti’s Top 15 Metal Albums of 2015
  3. 2015 In Review: The Best of SyFy

What Lisa Watched Last Night #133: Patient Killer (dir by Casper Van Dien)


Last night, I watched another Lifetime premiere, Patient Killer!

Why Was I Watching It?

Well, the obvious answer is because it was on Lifetime and, like all good people, I’m kind of obsessed with the movies that they show on Lifetime.  However, I also watched it because it was directed by Casper Van Dien (who has already appeared in two of my favorite films of the year — Avengers Grimm and Sharktopus vs. Whalewolf) and it apparently featured Patrick Muldoon playing a stalker.  Patrick Muldoon is always a lot of fun whenever he’s bad.

(Derek Morris, my collaborator over at Primetime Preppie, has never quite forgiven Patrick for breaking up Kelly and Zack on Saved By The Bell.)

What Was It About?

Four years ago, therapist Victoria Wrightmar (Victoria Pratt) got too close to one of her patients and, as a result, Dylan McNalt (David Chokachi) committed suicide.  Despite the fact that Victoria has found success as a hypnotherapist, dream interpreter, and author, she is still haunted by Dylan’s death.

One day, a new patient enters her office.  Blaire Bennett (Barbie Castro) has been having nightmares and, when it turns out that she’s been suppressing memories that are similar to those that afflicted Dylan, Victoria once again starts to get too close to another patient.

However, it’s not just Blaire that Victoria has to deal with.  Her boyfriend, Jason (Casper Van Dien), has anger issues.  Another one of her patients, Derek (Patrick Muldoon), has become dangerously obsessed with her.  Both her mentor (Richard Burgi) and her administrative assistant (Stacey Dash) might have secrets of their own.  And, as strange things start to happen and those around her are threatened, a menacing police detective (Antoni Corone) enters her life as well.

Is Victoria being stalked or is she going crazy herself?  And is this movie called Patient Killer because the killer is a patient or because the killer likes to take his time?  To find out, you’ll have to watch the movie!

What Worked?

On twitter, Patrick Muldoon speculated that he would never get another date after people saw his performance as unstable Derek.  Personally, I think Muldoon was too hard on himself.  He did a really good job, finding the perfect balance between being threatening and being pathetic.  As a result, his character was both scary and sympathetic.  It looked like he had a lot of fun playing Derek and he was a lot of fun to watch.

And really, the same thing can be said about Patient Killer as a film.  It was an entertaining and enjoyably over-the-top thriller.

I loved both Victoria’s office and Blaire’s house.  Both locations were wonderfully decorated and a real delight to look at.  I’ve always said that one of the best thing about Lifetime films is getting to see where everyone works and lives and that was definitely the case with Patient Killer.

Actually, the entire film was a delight to look at.  Bernard Salzmann’s cinematography filled the frame with a combination of vibrant colors and menacing shadows.  This movie featured one of the best sunsets ever to appear on the Lifetime network.

While the film’s deliberate pace may not have been for everyone, I actually rather liked it and I felt it occasionally gave the film a surreal, almost dream-like feel.  In the end, Patient Killer felt like the Lifetime version of a classic David Lynch film noir.  (The score even sounded similar to Angelo Badalamenti’s classic Mulholland Drive score.)

What Did Not Work?

As far as I’m concerned, it all worked!

“Oh my God!  Just like me!” Moments

As someone has plenty of experience in the administrative assistance field, I totally related to the character played by Stacey Dash.

Lessons Learned

Never go to the office without a taser.  (Watch the movie and it’ll make sense.)

Let’s Talk About Sharktopus Vs. Whalewolf!


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On Saturday night, SyFy premiered Roboshark and Mega Shark vs. Kolossus and viewers like me will be forever thankful.  However, SyFy wasn’t done giving us treats.  On Sunday night, another new film premiered.  It was called Sharktopus vs. Whalewolf and I’m not ashamed to say that it was absolutely brilliant.

Sharktopus vs. Whalewolf takes place in the Dominican Republic.  A disgraced baseball player, Felix Rosa (played by Mario Arturo Hernandez,) goes to a mysterious German scientist, Dr. Reihnhardt (Catherine Oxenberg), in search of a treatment that will again make him a superstar.  However, as often happens with mad scientists, Dr. Reinhardt has an agenda of her own and soon Felix has been transformed into a hybrid between a whale and wolf.  This means that he looks like a wolf but he swims like a whale and he tends to act like a dog.

Except, of course, when he’s eating people.

When he’s eating people, he’s all Whalewolf.

whale

Meanwhile, alcoholic boat captain Ray (Casper Van Dien, giving a likable and energetic performance) has discovered that Sharktopus — a creature with the head of shark and the body of an octopus — is swimming in the waters around the Dominican Republic.  At first, Ray and his sidekick, Pablo (Jorge Eduardo De Los Santos), aren’t too concerned about the Sharktopus or anything else.  But then the local voodoo priest (Tony Almont) demands that they bring him the heart of Sharktopus and, when they don’t promptly comply, he starts to stick pins into Ray and Pablo voodoo dolls.

While all of that is going on, Ray’s almost girlfriend, police officer Nita (Akari Endo),  is trying to keep the peace but that’s a little bit difficult when you not only have to deal with a voodoo cult, an alcoholic boat captain, and a German mad scientist but also with Sharktopus and Whalewolf as well!

But that’s not all!  A Dominican version of The Bachelor is being filmed nearby.  It would be a lot easier for the bachelor to find love if not for the fact that Sharktopus keeps eating all of his potential wives.

And finally, there’s a tourist who is vacationing in the Dominican Republic and is convinced that she’s starting a new chapter of her life.  Needless to say, things don’t exactly end well…

Okay, you may have read all that and may now be under the impression that there’s a lot of going on in Sharktopus vs. Whalewolf and you are absolutely correct.  This is a very busy film but, then again, that’s exactly why it works.  The pace is relentless and the action is nonstop.  No time is wasted when it comes to introducing both Sharktopus and Whalewolf.  It’s nonstop Sharktopus and Whalewolf action, without a single slow moment.

The tone is pretty much set from the moment that Catherine Oxenberg first appears and starts to speak in the most over-the-top, deliberately exaggerated German accent ever heard.  Then Casper Van Dien shows up, pulling flasks out of his pockets and, at one point, getting into a literal slap fight with Sharktopus.  (Casper Van Dien gives a performance that can be positively compared to the best work of Bruce Campbell.)

Sharktopus vs. Whalewolf works as both an entertaining monster film and a glorious send up of the entire genre.  If you missed it for the first time, keep an eye out for another showing.

And hopefully, Sharktopus will soon return!

SW

Playing Catch-Up With 6 Film Reviews: Avengers Grimm, Bad Asses On The Bayou, Hayride 2, Insurgent, Poltergeist, Tomorrowland


Here are 6 films that I saw during the first half of 2015.  Some of them are on Netflix and some of them were major studio releases.  Some of them are worth seeing.  Some of them most definitely are not.

Avengers_Grimm

Avengers Grimm (dir by Jeremy M. Inman)

Obviously made to capitalize on the popularity of Avengers: Age of UltronAvengers Grimm opens with a war in the world of fairy tales.  Evil Rumpelstiltskin (Casper Van Dien) uses Snow White’s (Laura Parkinson) magic mirror to cross over into our world and he takes Snow White with him!  It’s now up to Cinderella (Milynn Sharley), Sleeping Beauty (Marah Fairclough), and Rapunzel (Rileah Vanderbilt) to cross over into our world, save Snow White, and defeat Rumpelstiltskin.  Also sneaking over is rebellious Red Riding Hood (Elizabeth Petersen) who is determined to kill Rumpelstiltskin’s henchman, The Wolf (Kimo Leopoldo).  

Got all that?

Avengers Grimm is another enjoyably insane mockbuster from The Asylum.  The budget’s low, the performances are intentionally melodramatic, and it’s all lot of fun.  Casper Van Dien has a lot of fun playing evil, the women all get to kick ass, and Lou Ferrigno is well-cast as a labor leader named Iron John.

Avengers Grimm is currently available on Netflix.

Bad_Asses_on_the_Bayou

Bad Asses On The Bayou (dir by Craig Moss)

Apparently, this is the third film in which Danny Trejo and Danny Glover have respectively played Frank Vega and Bernie Pope, two old guys who kick ass in between worrying about their prostates.  I haven’t seen the previous two Bad Asses films but I imagine that it really doesn’t matter.

In this film, Trejo and Glover go to Louisiana to attend a friend’s wedding.  When she’s kidnapped, they have to rescue her and impart some important life lessons to her younger brother.  It’s all pretty predictable but then again, it’s also pretty good for a film called Bad Asses On The Bayou.  This is a film that promises two things: Danny Trejo kicking ass and lots of bayou action.  And it delivers on both counts.

In fact, I would say that Bad Asses On The Bayou is a better showcase for Danny Trejo’s unique style than the better known Machete films.  Danny Trejo is a surprisingly adept comedic actor and he gives a performance here that shows his talent goes beyond mere physical presence.

Bad Asses On The Bayou is currently available on Netflix.

hayride-2

Hayride 2 (dir by Terron R. Parsons)

I should admit up front that I haven’t seen the first Hayride film.  Luckily, Hayride 2 picks up directly from the end of the first film and is filled with so many flashbacks and so much conversation about what happened that it probably doesn’t matter.

Essentially, Pitchfork (Wayne Dean) is a murderous urban legend who turns out to be real.  He killed a lot of people in the first film and he stalks those that escaped throughout the 2nd film.  Like all good slasher villains, Pitchfork is a relentless killer.  He’s also an unrepentant racist, which leads to a genuinely unpleasant scene where he attacks a black detective (Corlandos Scott).  Say whatever else you will about the film, Hayride 2 deserves some credit for being on the side of the victims.  No attempt is made to turn Pitchfork into an anti-hero and the movie is relentlessly grim.

Hayride 2 is an odd film.  The film’s low-budget is obvious in every single scene.  The pacing is abysmal and the performances are amateurish.  And yet, when taken on its own meager terms, it has a dream-like intensity to it that I appreciated.  Then again, I always have had a weakness for low-budget, regional horror films.

Hayride 2 is available on Netflix.

Insurgent_poster

Insurgent (dir by Robert Schwentke)

Insurgent is both the sequel to Divergent and was also 2015’s first YA dystopia film.  Shailene Woodley is as good as ever and I guess it’s good that she has a commercially successful franchise, which will hopefully inspire audiences to track down better Shailene Woodley films like The Spectacular Now.  

All that said, Insurgent often felt even more pointless than Divergent.  For a two-hour film featuring performers like Woodley, Kate Winslet, Octavia Spencer, Ansel Elgort, and Miles Teller, Insurgent has no excuse for being as forgettable and boring as it actually was.  The next installment in The Hunger Games can not get here soon enough.

Poltergeist_2015_poster

Poltergeist (dir by Gil Kenan)

When a family (led by Sam Rockwell and Rosemarie DeWitt) move into a new house, they discover that everything is not what it seems.  For one thing, they come across a bunch of creepy clown dolls.  They also hear a lot of scary sounds.  They discover that the house was built on an old cemetery.  Their youngest daughter vanishes.  And finally, someone says, “Isn’t this like that old movie that was on TCM last night?”

Okay, they don’t actually say that.  However, as everyone knows, the 2015 Poltergeist is a remake of the 1982 Poltergeist.  Since the 1982 Poltergeist still holds up fairly well, the 2015 Poltergeist feels incredibly unnecessary.  It has a few good jump scenes and it’s always good to see Sam Rockwell and Rosemarie DeWitt in lead roles but ultimately, who cares?  It’s just all so pointless.

Watch the wall-dancing original.  Ignore the remake.

Tomorrowland_poster

Tomorrowland (dir by Brad Bird)

Welcome to the world of tomorrow!  Wow, is it ever boring!

Actually, I feel a little bit bad about just how much I disliked Tomorrowland because this is a film that really did have the best intentions.  Watching the film, you get the sinking feeling that the people involved actually did think that they were going to make the world a better place.  Unfortunately, their idea of a better world is boring and almost oppressively optimistic.  There is no room for cynicism in Tomorrowland.  Bleh.  What fun is that?

Anyway, the film basically steals its general idea from the Atlas Shrugged trilogy.  Tomorrowland is a secret place that is inhabited by inventors, dreamers, and iconoclasts.  Years ago, Frank (George Clooney) was banished from Tomorrowland because, after learning that the Earth was destined to end, he lost “hope” in mankind’s future.  Fortunately, he meets Casey (Britt Robertson), who is full of hope and through her, he gets to return.  They also get a chance to save the world and battle a cartoonish super villain played by Hugh Laurie.  (Why is he a villain?  Because he’s played by Hugh Laurie, of course!)

After all the hype and build-up, Tomorrowland turned out to be dull and predictable.  What a shame.  The Atlas Shrugged trilogy was at least fun because it annoyed the hipsters at the AV Club.  Tomorrowland is just forgettable.

What Lisa Marie Watched Last Night #91: The Omega Code (dir by Robert Marcarelli)


Early this morning, after waking up and walking into a wall, I watched The Omega Code, an evangelically-themed film from 1999.

Why Was I Watching It?

Earlier this year, my friend Evelyn and I watched a film called Megiddo: The Omega Code 2.  We were both oddly amused by Megiddo so, when I saw that the first Omega Code film was going to be on one of the religious stations, I set the DVR to record it and made plans to watch it at some point in the future.

Last night, I happened to wake up around 3 in the morning.  I got out of bed, I took a few steps forward, and I walked straight into a wall.  After that, I turned on the lights and I was relieved to discover that my nose had protected the rest of my face from the wall.

So there I was at 3 in the morning with my red nose and my bruised pride and, despite my best efforts, I couldn’t get back to sleep.  What’s a girl to do, right?  So, I decided that since I was awake anyway, I would go ahead and watch The Omega Code.

What Was It About?

The world is ending.  People are starving.  Nations are going to war.  Fortunately, the President of the European Union, Stone Alexander (Michael York) has a plan to save us all.  Unfortunately, Stone Alexander also happens to be the Antichrist.

In order to get all of humanity to accept his plan, Stone recruits the world’s most famous motivational speaker (Casper Van Dien).  However, Van Dien find out about the Omega Code, a secret code that uses the bible to predict the future.  And, as Van Dien discovers, the future looks positively apocalyptic….

What Worked?

When I reviewed Megiddo: Omega Code 2, I mentioned that if you’ve got a naturally villainous name like Stone Alexander, you might as well be evil.  The same remains true of The Omega Code.  Stone Alexander is so evil and Michael York is obviously having so much fun playing him that the fun is almost contagious.

Michael Ironside plays Dominic, Stone Alexander’s henchman.  In a rather offensive moment, Alexander reveals that Dominic is both gay and a former priest and the implication (which was probably popular with the film’s target audience) is that Dominic’s villainy is the direct result of both his Catholicism and his sexuality.  But, regardless, Ironside gives a memorably menacing performance.

It’s interesting how the villains in religious films are often more compelling than the heroes…

What Did Not Work?

Though I didn’t realize it at the time, I was spoiled by getting the chance to see the 2nd Omega Code before I saw the first one.  Omega Code 2 was the epitome of a so-bad-that-it’s-good type of film but the first Omega Code was just bad.  Not even the combined villainy of Michaels York and Ironside could make The Omega Code entertaining.

(Add to that, Megiddo: Omega Code 2 featured cameos from both Franco Nero and Udo Kier, while The Omega Code featured … well, no one.)

No review of The Omega Code would be complete without mentioning that, in the lead role, Casper Van Dien gives perhaps one of the worst performances ever captured on film.  It’s oddly fascinating to watch and try to figure out how anybody could give such an incompetent performance.

As I watched the film, one question kept nagging at me.   The Omega Code makes the argument that biblical prophecy should be taken literally.  Therefore, if the bible is itself a literal document that tells you everything that you need to know  than why hide a secret code between the lines?  And, if you’re going to go through all the trouble to come up with a secret code, why use that code to then hide cryptic phrases that could literally be translated to mean anything?  It just seems a bit overly complicated.

(That, incidentally, is the same reason why I don’t have much use for anything that Dan Brown has ever written.)

“Oh my God!  Just like me!” Moments

None.  Seriously, there was not a single moment in this film to which I could relate.  Some of that may be because this film was obviously made to appeal to an evangelical audience, as opposed to a free-thinking fallen Catholic like me.

Then again, it could also be that The Omega Code just wasn’t a very good movie.

Lessons Learned

I really didn’t learn anything.  Sorry, not sorry.

omegacode