Rebel Days: All-American Murder (1991, directed by Anson Williams)


Artie Logan (Charlie Schlatter) is a wannabe James Dean who keeps getting kicked out of school because he is such a rebel.  His father, a judge, gives Artie one more chance.  Artie can either enroll at Fairfield College or he can go to jail.  Artie chooses Fairfield, where he meets and falls for the beautiful and popular Tally Fuller (Josie Bissett).  However, no sooner does Artie show up for their first date than someone sets Tally on fire and crashes through a window.  Artie is the number one suspect but Detective P.J. Decker (Christopher Walken) still gives him 24 hours to solve the murder and clear his name.  Artie investigates and discovers that Tally was not the innocent, all-American girl that everyone thought she was.  This leads to a nudity-filled flashback that explains why All-American Murder was an HBO mainstay in the 90s.  It also leads to other people being murdered by snakes and hand grenades.

Despite some bloody murders and the presence of Walken and Joanna Cassidy in potentially interesting supporting roles, All-American Murder fails because it asks us to accept Charlie Schlatter as being a charismatic rebel.  When Joanna Cassidy tells him that he’s a “renegade,” not even she sounds like she believes it.  The murder mystery is intriguing but Artie is so obnoxious that you want him to go to prison whether he’s guilty or not.

All-American Murder was directed by Anson Williams, who is best known for playing Potsie on Happy Days.  The Fonz could have framed Ralph Malph for this murder in half the time that it takes Artie to solve it.

A Movie a Day #280: Mikey (1992, directed by Dennis Dimister)


Dumb.  Just dumb.

Mikey (Brian Bonsall) is a little boy who kills people.  Over the course of this movie, he kills eight people.  He gets away with it because everyone that he meets is extremely stupid.  When his teacher notices that Mikey is drawing pictures based on his previous murders, no one thinks anything of it.  When she sees that Mikey is now pushing thumbtacks into his arm, no one is too concerned.  When the principal goes looking for Mikey, he takes a gun which he then leaves unattended on the kitchen counter.  When Mikey tells his teacher that he wants her to teach him “how to die,” everyone figures out that something’s wrong with Mikey but, by then, it’s too late.

For a few years, Mikey had a strong cult following because of the killer kid theme and a few scenes of Josie Bissett in a hot tub.  But it really is a dumb movie and Brian Bonsall gave a lousy performance as Mikey.  Bonsall has a good psycho stare going but whenever he has to speak, he is so wooden that it is impossible to take him seriously.  It takes a good deal of stupidity for an adult to get murdered by a ten-year old and this movie proves it.

A Special Bonus TSL’s Daily Horror Grindhouse Review: Hitcher In The Dark (dir by Umberto Lenzi)


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So, I just reviewed a thriller called Road Games, which is about something bad that happens to hitchhikers.  And, as I was finishing up that review, I suddenly realized that I now had the perfect excuse to say a few words about Umberto Lenzi’s 1989 horror/thriller, Hitcher In The Dark!

The Hitcher In The Dark is a film that I specifically bought earlier this year so that I could review it in October.  I thought that Hitcher In The Dark was a great title.  Plus, I haven’t reviewed that many Umberto Lenzi films, despite the fact that he is one of the most prolific directors in the history of Italian cinema.  Hitcher in the Dark? I thought, Hell yeah, I’ll review that!

But then I watched the movie and I discovered that there’s really not that much to say about it.  There’s a reason why this is one of Lenzi’s more obscure films.  (He directed it around the same time that he made the infamous Black Demons.)  Not that much happens in Hitcher In The Dark.  It tells the story of a psycho rich boy, who is played by Joe Balogh.  Joe Balogh was also the lead in Black Demons.  In that film, his character was named Dick.  All through Black Demons, the other actors were always wandering around and yelling, “Dick!  Dick!  We need Dick!  I need Dick!  Please, show me Dick!”  Hitcher In The Dark is never that much fun.

Instead, Balogh’s character is named Mitch.  He’s obsessed with his dead mother, so he drives around Florida and kills people.  Because she resembles a framed stock photo that he keeps on him at all times, Mitch kidnaps Daniela (Josie Bissett) and tries to turn her into his mother.  The rest of the film is pretty much made up of Daniela escaping and then getting captured again.  Her boyfriend (Jason Saucier) is also searching for her.  He goes up into random gas stations and says, “Have you seen a blonde girl?”  Eventually, he stumbles across both her and Mitch.  Why not?  Florida’s not that big!

Anyway, there are three things that set Hitcher In The Dark apart.  First off, there’s the fact that Mitch spends almost the entire movie driving the most awkward vehicle imaginable, a gigantic RV.  Somehow, Mitch manages to kidnap and kill undetected while driving the most conspicuous thing possible.  Seriously, check this monster out:

And there are two lines of dialogue that are so weird that they deserve to be enshrined in some sort of Hall of Fame.

When the police pull Mitch over and notice that he has a cut on his hand (from where Daniela earlier stabbed him with a fork), Mitch smoothly explains, “It’s just a scratch.  I was cleaning my spear.”

AND THE POLICE NOD AND LET HIM GO!

The other line comes early in the film.  When Mitch ignores a girl who has been hitting on him, she snaps, “Hey!  Who do you think you are!?  Mickey Rourke!?”

Seriously, Hitcher In The Dark may not be very memorable or good but those three things made it all worthwhile!

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Film Review: Pregnant At 17 (dir by Curtis Crawford)


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Before I talk too much about the last night’s Lifetime premiere, Pregnant at 17, I want to share something with you.  As of 10:00 pm on the night at February 20th, this is the imdb plot description, which was posted by Reel One Entertainment:

When Sonia finds out her husband of 10 years is having an affair, she decides to get to know the young woman, Chelsea, he’s fallen in love with. Chelsea, a free-spirit who believes in polyamory, brings a happiness and fulfillment to Sonia that she’s never experienced before– especially since her miscarriage which left her depressed and hopeless. The three form a polyamorous relationship until an unexpected turn of events sends all of their lives into a tailspin.

Wow, that sounds like a lot of fun, doesn’t it!?  Certainly, this is the first time that I’ve seen the term “polyamory” used in a plot description since Utopia went off the air!

However, by the time you read this review, I imagine that the plot description will probably have been changed because it’s absolutely inaccurate.  It is true that Sonia (Josie Bissett) does find out that her husband, Jeff (Roark Critchlow), is having an affair with Chelsea (Zoe De Grand Maison).  However, Chelsea is not a polyamorous free spirit.  Instead, she’s a 17 year-old girl who works at an ice cream parlor.  (The name of the parlor is Stella Lama.)  And, though Jeff does have an affair with her, he never falls in love with Chelsea.  In fact, when Chelsea tells him that she’s pregnant (at 17!), he promptly attempts to pay her off.

That’s right — Pregnant at 17 is yet another installment in Lifetime’s endless series of “…at 17” films.  Over the past few years, we’ve seen everything from Betrayed At 17 to Stalked At 17 to Framed At 17 to Accused at 17.  Seriously, it’s not easy being a 17 year-old girl on Lifetime!  The worst things are always happening to you.  Since I had a lot of melodrama in my life when I was 17, I always enjoy and relate to the “…at 17” movies.  Pregnant at 17 was a film that I could especially relate to because it was about a girl who had both red hair and a boyfriend named Jeff!

Even without the promised softcore polyamory, Pregnant at 17 was still wonderfully melodramatic in the way that only a good Lifetime film can be.  After Sonia discovers that Chelsea has been sleeping with her husband, she goes down to the ice parlor to confront her.  However, within seconds of their first meeting, Chelsea is offering Sonia free ice cream and talking about how difficult her life is.  Sonia feels sorry for Chelsea and, instead of confronting her, ends up befriending her.

And Chelsea really needs a friend!  Not only has she been abandoned by her married boyfriend but she’s also being stalked by Greg Foster (Rogan Christopher).  Apparently, before she met Jeff, Chelsea witnessed Greg robbing a convenience store.  Chelsea identified Greg to the police and Greg has spent the last year in jail.  Now, he’s out and he wants revenge!  Helping Greg is his sister, Laren (Corina Bizem).  We know that Laren is dangerous because she wears way too much dark eyeliner.

When Sonia confronts Jeff about his affair, he replies, “You’re not perfect, either.”  Guys, if you’re reading this — if you are ever caught cheating, do not attempt to excuse your actions by saying, “You’re not perfect, either.”  SERIOUSLY, THAT IS THE WORST POSSIBLE THING YOU CAN SAY IN THOSE CIRCUMSTANCES.

(Forgive me for the all caps but I think this is an important message to impart.  If I can teach a lesson, I am always happy to do so.)

Now, at this point, I was thinking about a friend of mine who found out that her boyfriend was cheating on her and she responded by supergluing his penis to his stomach.  (Yes, that is a true story and yes, the person who suggested it to her was inspired by Reservoir Dogs.)  However, Sonia doesn’t go that far.  Instead, she just makes Jeff sleep in the guest room.  The next morning, Jeff gets hit by a car and ends up laid up at the hospital.

That now means that there’s extra room in Sonia’s house!  And who better to move in but her husband’s pregnant mistress!?  Of course, by doing so, Sonia is now being stalked by the same people who have been stalking Chelsea…

Seriously, being pregnant at 17 is the least of Chelsea’s problems.  This is pure Choas at 17.

And no, there’s no polyamory.  There’s no threesomes.  I know that the plot description promised a threesome but that’s not the type of movie that Pregnant at 17 is.  This is not Carnal Wishes or Big Bad Mama. And really, that’s okay.  Pregnant at 17 is a lot of fun, just the way it is.  This film epitomizes everything that we love about Lifetime movies.  It’s so over the top that watching it is a pure delight.

Both Josie Bissett and Zoe De Grande Maison also deserve a lot of credit for fully committing to their roles.  Bissett, who was so good in A Mother’s Instinct, gives another excellent performance here.  Meanwhile, Maison does all of us redheads proud!

Keep an eye out for Pregnant at 17!  You will not be disappointed.

 

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!

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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

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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

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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.

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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!

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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

Adventures in Cleaning Out The DVR: A Mother’s Instinct (dir by Jason Bourque)


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After I finished watching and reviewing Night of the Wild, it was time to continue cleaning out my DVR by watching A Mother’s Instinct.  A Mother’s Instinct premiered on Lifetime on November 9th.  On that night, I was out celebrating my upcoming birthday with my family.  Fortunately, before I left, I remembered to set the DVR to record A Mother’s Instinct.

Like many Lifetime films, A Mother’s Instinct takes place in the suburbs.  It’s the type of place that is perfect on the surface but the digger you deep, the more ugliness you discover.  It’s the type of place where happy families are never quite as happy as they seem.  It’s the type of place where danger lurks in the shadows, waiting for the chance to make itself known.  It’s the type of place where the pervert across the street takes pictures of his neighbor undressing in front of her bedroom window.  It’s the type of place where pets are kidnapped and killed and left on a driveway as a threat.

It’s also the home of the Bettners, mother Nora (Josie Bissett), teenage daughter Scarlett (Sarah Grey, who had a similar role in director Jason Bourque’s earlier Lifetime film, The Wrong Girl), and youngest child, Gus (Spencer Drever).  When Gus disappears, Nora and Sarah immediately suspect that he’s been kidnapped by Seth Durand (Richard Harmon).  Seth and his mother have just moved in across the street.  Before Gus vanished, Seth was spying on and harassing Scarlett.  After Gus vanishes, Seth taunts the Bettners.  Or, at the very least, it seems that he does.  Is Seth guilty or is he just a jerk?  This is the question that rests at the heart of A Mother’s Instinct.

Nora’s instinct is that Seth is guilty but despite her belief, the police have no proof that Seth kidnapped Gus.  So, with Scarlett’s help, Nora abducts Seth and, after stripping him down to his underwear, locks him in a cage and proceeds to torture and interrogate him.  Soon, that cage becomes Nora’s private version of Gitmo, with Seth as her helpless prisoner.  The more that Seth claims to be innocent, the more extreme Nora’s methods become.  Eventually, even Scarlett starts to worry that they’re going too far…

But are they?  Up until the final 30 minutes of the film (at which point something happens that pretty much answers all of our questions), we’re never quite sure whether Seth is innocent or if he’s guilty.  Our natural instinct is to assume that he must be guilty because the kid is such a creep.  But, as Nora’s methods get more and more extreme, we’re left to wonder if she’s the one making the mistake.  Has she now crossed the lines and become the dangerous one?  Or is she just doing what needs to be done to save her family?  That sense of moral ambiguity is what sets A Mother’s Instinct apart from other abduction-theme Lifetime movie.

Though the plot is similar to 2013’s Prisoners, A Mother’s Instinct manages to establish an identity of its own.  It’s an intense film that will keep you guessing about whether Seth is guilty or innocent.  Richard Harmon gives an excellent performance as the creepy Seth, making the viewers feel both sympathy and revulsion towards the character.  Josie Bissett is perfectly intense as the determined mother while Sarah Grey does a good job of capturing both Scarlett’s anger and her doubts.  A Mother’s Instinct is a good and intense Lifetime movie, the type that will keep you guessing until the end.