What Lisa Watched Last Night #198: Psycho Stripper (dir by Jake Helgren)

Last night, I watched the latest Lifetime premiere, Psycho Stripper!Why Was I Watching It?

Why was I watching it?  Seriously, with a name like Psycho Stripper, how couldn’t I watch it!?  There’s an art to coming up with a good title and whoever came up with Psycho Stripper has obviously perfected that art.  The title was so great that I even abandoned the neighborhood Cinco De Mayo party early, just so I could watch the movie in the comfort of my own home.  That’s the power of a perfect title!

Also, I have to give some credit to Lifetime, here.  Before they showed Psycho Stripper, they showed Magic Mike.  So, on Sunday night, viewers got a chance to see two separate versions of the life of a male stripper, the yellow-tinted Steven Soderbergh version (seriously, I like Magic Mike but, whenever I watch it, I worry all that yellow is going to burn my retinas) and the wonderfully over-the-top Lifetime version!

What Was It About?

Amber (Karissa Lee Staples) owns her own dance studio, has a lot of friends, and is about to get married to the wealthy (if kinda wimpy) Owen (Mark Hapka).

Hunter (Tyler Johnson) is a handsome and charming male stripper who dresses up like a fireman, can change a flat tire, and who happens to be really good with an ax.

Together, they solve crimes!

No, not really.  Instead, Hunter shows up at Amber’s bachelorette party.  He’s supposed to just be a part of the night’s entertainment but, instead, Hunter keeps showing up wherever Amber happens to be.  First, he just wants dance lessons.  Then, he’s kind of dating Amber’s best friend, Taryn (Rachele Brooke Smith).  Then, he’s bringing Amber a gift to thank her for the lessons.  Suddenly, he’s asking Amber if she wants to get lunch!  Amber doesn’t think that it’s a good idea for her to have lunch with Hunter, especially since Owen seems to have a hang-up about her hanging out with a mysterious man who has a great body.

Then again, Owen has issues of his own.  For instance, he doesn’t seem to have quite gotten over his previous girlfriend, the one who died mysteriously….

What Worked?

Okay, so I absolutely loved this movie.  I mean, how couldn’t I?  It combined two of my favorite things: over-the-top, in-your-face melodrama and dancing!  This movie was a lot of fun and Tyler Johnson really threw himself into playing the role of the psycho stripper.

The film also had a bit of a subversive side, as well.  Hunter may be a psycho but you still kind of find yourself on his side, if just because everyone else in the movie is so judgmental of him and how he makes his living.  Owen’s family is extremely wealthy and all of his friends are extremely privileged.  When they start giving Hunter a hard time about being a stripper (with one of them even throwing a dollar bill at him), you can’t help but feel a little bit bad for him.  (Of course, then he starts killing people and you’re like, “Okay, never mind….”)

My favorite character was Taryn, who was not only a good dancer but also the greatest best friends that one could possibly hope for.  She got all the best lines.  My personal favorite was, “We’re going to get in this car and plow his ass down!”

What Didn’t Work?

It all worked.  This was Lifetime at its best.

“Oh my God!  Just like me!” Moments

A Lifetime film set in a dance studio?  To be honest, almost the entire film was an “Oh my God!  Just like me!” moment.  I related to Taryn.  I’d like to think that, if there was a psycho wandering around outside, I too would be smart enough to grab a knife before going outside.

The last Bachelorette Party that I went to had a stripping fireman, just like this movie.  However, I don’t think he ever killed anyone.  Actually, rumor has it that he was a real fireman who had too much to drink that night.  Who knows?  Life is indeed a crazy tapestry.

Lessons Learned

Beware of strippers bearing gifts.

Cleaning Out The DVR: Lethal Admirer (dir by Craig Goldstein)

I recorded Lethal Admirer off of Lifetime on April 15th.

My friends and I have long debated which episode of Boy Meets World is the worst.

My friend Jen has often said that the worst episode was the one where Eric wanted to adopt a kid and she has a pretty good point, there.  Some others have said that the worst episode was the one where Cory acts like an immature jackass when his mom dares to give birth on a day that he wanted to spend exclusively with Topanga and, again, I think they have a valid point.

Speaking for myself. I’ve narrowed it down to two possibilities.

First off, there’s the episode where Shawn joins a cult and Cory starts grabbing him and going, “This is a hug, Shawn!  THIS!  THIS IS A HUG!”  The other one is the episode where Cory and Topanga crash a complete stranger’s wedding and Cory makes their special day all about him.

You know which one I’m talking about.  Cory and Topanga know no one at the wedding.  The only reason that they’re there is so they can get ideas for the own wedding.  Still, Cory feels the needs to stand up during the ceremony and give a lengthy speech about how creepily obsessed he is with his fiancée and how he hopes that the newlyweds will be as much in love with each other as Cory is with Topanga.

The worst thing about this scene is that everyone at the wedding is touched by Cory’s speech.  Nobody says, “And you are?”  No one questions why some strange teenager is making the ceremony all about himself.  No one asks why Cory is suddenly the world’s authority on love.  Add to that, beyond Cory being incredibly self-centered, it’s just an extremely awkward moment.  I mean, it’s bad enough to crash someone’s wedding but then to interrupt with some halfassed speech about yourself?  You feel embarrassed for Cory, for everyone at the wedding, and especially for Topanga.

Well, believe it or not, Lethal Admirer contains a scene that is just as thoroughly awkward as Cory’s wedding speech.  This scene also takes place at a wedding.  Unlike Cory and Topanga, Lloyd (Drew Seeley) is not crashing the wedding.  He was actually invited to attend by his friend and former co-worker, Megan (Karissa Lee Staples).  The only reason Megan invited Lloyd to come with her is because her boyfriend, Chris (Brian Ames), broke his leg when he fell off a ladder.  Megan considers Lloyd to be a friend and even wants to set him up with her sister (Courtney Hope).  However, Lloyd is convinced that Megan loves him.  As Lloyd explains it, his mother has always told him that he has to take big chances and Lloyd does just that at the wedding reception.

And, oh my God!  Anyone who has ever had a friend declare their love at the worst possible moment will be cringing with flashbacks!

Of course, it’s not just that Lloyd has no clue about how to socially interact with people.  It’s also that Lloyd’s a little bit crazy.  In fact, he’s just crazy enough to have killed both Megan’s former boyfriend and her current boss.  Remember that ladder that Chris fell off of?  Well, that was no accident.  Nor was it an accident that, after Megan moved across the country, Lloyd suddenly showed up in her new city.  Lloyd is obsessed with Megan and Megan, for whatever reason, is pretty much clueless until it’s too late.

It’s a typical Lifetime movie scenario but Lethal Admirer is distinguished by a script that makes the very wise decision not to take itself too seriously.  It never becomes a full-blown comedy like A Deadly Adoption but the script of Lethal Admirer features enough one-liners and random nonsequiturs to indicate that the filmmakers were determined to have a little bit fun with the typical Lifetime formula.  I especially liked the interactions between Megan and her sister.  Their relationship rang true.

Also ringing true was the character of Lloyd, who was definitely strange but also just charming enough that you could legitimately accept the idea of Megan wanting to be his friend.  Drew Seeley provided an indelible portrait of a nerd scorned in this film.  His little smile when Megan assured him that he could pass for an intellectual hipster was both deeply creepy and kind of sweet at the same time.

Lethal Admirer was a good Lifetime flick.  If nothing else, it should be shown to everyone as an example of what not to do at a wedding.

2016 in Review: The Best of Lifetime

Today, I continue my look back at the year 2016 with the best of Lifetime!  Below, you’ll find my nominations for the best Lifetime films and performances of 2016!  Winners are starred and listed in bold!


Best Picture
Bad Sister, produced by Robert Ballo, Timothy O. Johnson, Rukmani Jones, Ken Sanders
The Cheerleader Murders, produced by Sharon Bordas, Arthur Edmonds III, Hannah Pillemer, Fernando Szew, Jennifer Westin
Girl in the Box, produced by Stephen Kemp, Charles Tremayne, Thomas Vencelides
Inspired to Kill, produced by Johnson Chan, Michael Fiefer, Douglas Howell, Stephanie Rennie, Vincet Reppert, Nathan Schwab, Tammana Shah, Shawn Tira
Manson’s Lost Girls, produced by Nancy Bennett, Kyle A. Clark, Lawrence Ducceschi, Joan Harrison, Jonathan Koch, Stephen Kronish, Steven Michaels, Lina Wong
Mommy’s Little Girl, produced by Tom Berry, Steve Boisvert, Neil Bregman, Cinthia Burke, Christine Conradt, Curtis Crawford, Pierre David, Donald M. Osborne, Andrew E. Pecs
*A Mother’s Escape, produced by Sharon Bordas, Lori Bell Leahy, Michael Leahy, Kristofer McNeeley, Fernando Szew
My Sweet Audrina, produced by Dan Angel, David Calvert-Jones, Harvey Kahn, Kane Lee, Tom Mazza, Mike Rohl, Jane Startz
The Night Stalker, produced by Matthew R. Brady, Patrick G. Ingram, Michel Rangel, Alisa Tager
The Wrong Car, produced by Mark Donadio, Miriam Marcus, Molly Martin, Michael O’Neil

Best Director
Doug Campbell for Bad Sister
Megan Griffiths for The Night Stalker
*Blair Hayes for A Mother’s Escape
David Jackson for The Cheerleader Murders
Leslie Libman for Manson’s Lost Girls
Mike Rohl for My Sweet Audrina

Best Actress
*Tara Buck in A Mother’s Escape
India Eisley in My Sweet Audrina
MacKenzie Mauzy in Manson’s Lost Girls
Alyshia Ochse in Bad Sister
Karissa Lee Staples in Inspired To Kill
Addison Timlin in Girl in the Box

Best Actor
Zane Holtz in Girl in the Box
Lou Diamond Phillips in The Night Stalker
*Eric Roberts in Stalked By My Doctor: The Return
Antonio Sabato, Jr in Inspired To Kill
Jason-Shane Scott in The Wrong Roommate
Jeff Ward in Manson’s Lost Girls

Best Supporting Actress
*Toni Atkins in My Sweet Audrina
Eden Brolin in Manson’s Lost Girls
Zoe De Grande Maison in Pregnant at 17
Beth Grant in A Mother’s Escape
Ryan Newman in Bad Sister
Zelda Williams in Girl in the Box

Best Supporting Actor
Blake Berris in Wrong Swipe
Rogan Christopher in Pregnant at 17
*Rhett Kidd in The Wrong Car
Christian Madsen in Manson’s Lost Girls
William McNamara in The Wrong Roommate
James Tupper in My Sweet Audrina

Best Screenplay
Bad Sister, Barbara Kymlicka
*The Cheerleader Murders, Matt Young
Girl in the Box, Stephen Kemp
Mommy’s Little Girl, Christine Conradt
A Mother’s Escape, Mike Bencivenga, Blair Hayes, Kristofer McNeeley
My Sweet Audrina, Scarlett Lacey

Best Cinematography
The Cheerleader Murders, Denis Maloney
Mommy’s Little Girl, Bill St. John
*A Mother’s Escape, Samuel Calvin
My Sweet Audrina, James Liston
The Night Stalker, Quyen Tran
The Wrong Car, Terrence Hayes

Best Costuming
Girl in the Box, Barb Cardoso, Tania Pedro
Manson’s Lost Girls, Dorothy Amos
*My Sweet Audrina, Farnaz Khaki-Sadigh
The Night Stalker, Rebecca Luke
The Red Dress, Sophie Pace
Toni Braxton: Unbreak My Heart, Mary McLeod

Best Editing
The Cheerleader Murders, Eric Potter
Girl in the Box, Julian Hart
Manson’s Lost Girls, Josh Hegard
*A Mother’s Escape, Travis Graalman
My Sweet Audrina, Charles Robichaud
The Night Stalker, Celia Beasley

Best Makeup and Hairstyling
Girl in the Box, Claudia Breckenridge, Jen Fisher, Oriana Rossi, Alex Rotundo, Collette Tolen
Killing Mommy, Cinthia Burke, Christie Capustinsky, Kevin Crawley, Kirsten Fairfield, Margaret Harding-Crawley, Corey J. Stone
*Manson’s Lost Girls, Jenni Brown Greenberg, Randi Mavestrand, Kelly Muldoon, Natalie Thimm
A Mother’s Escape, Jenny Hausam, Toni Mario
My Sweet Audrina, Alannah Bilodeau
Toni Braxton: Unbreak My Heart, Tara Hadden-Watts, Alexandra Holmes

Best Original Score
911 Nightmare, David Findlay
*The Cheerleader Murders, Cladue Foisy
Inspired To Kill, Brandon Jarrett
A Mother’s Escape, Todd Haberman
My Sweet Audrina, Graeme Coleman
The Wrong Car, Ed Grenga

Best Production Design
Bad Sister, Lia Burton, Danielle Lee
Girl in the Box, Andrew Berry, Jere Sallee
*Manson’s Lost Girls, Cynthia E. Hill, Linda Spheeris
A Mother’s Escape, Zackary Steven Graham
My Sweet Audrina, Tink, Janessa Hitsman
Toni Braxton: Unbreak My Heart, James Robbins, Courtney Stockstad, Amanda Christmas

Best Sound
*Center Stage: On Pointe
The Cheerleader Murders
Honeymoon from Hell
I Have Your Children
Inspired to Kill
Toni Braxton: Unreak My Heart

Best Visual Effects
Final Destiny
House of Darkness
The Inherited
Little Girl’s Secret
The Watcher

Congratulations to all the nominees and thank you for keeping us entertained in 2016!

Want to see my picks for the best of Lifetime in 2015?  Click here!

And if you want to see my picks from 2014, click here!

Tomorrow, I’ll continue my look back at 2016 with the 16 worst films of the year!

Previous Entries In The Best of 2016:

  1. TFG’s 2016 Comics Year In Review : Top Tens, Worsts, And Everything In Between
  2. Anime of the Year: 2016
  3. 25 Best, Worst, and Gems I Saw In 2016
  4. 2016 in Review: The Best of SyFy

Cleaning Out The DVR Yet Again #9: Inspired To Kill (dir by Michael Feifer)

(Lisa recently discovered that she only has about 8 hours of space left on her DVR!  It turns out that she’s been recording movies from July and she just hasn’t gotten around to watching and reviewing them yet.  So, once again, Lisa is cleaning out her DVR!  She is going to try to watch and review 52 movies by Wednesday, November 30th!  Will she make it?  Keep checking the site to find out!)


Wow, it’s Antonio Sabato, Jr. again!

That’s right, Inspired To Kill co-stars Antonio Sabato, Jr.  Interestingly enough, the previous movie that I watched in my effort to clean out the DVR, Remote Paradise, also co-starred Antonio Sabato, Jr.   Also interestingly enough, both Inspired to Kill and Remote Paradise feature Sabato playing an enigmatic, older man who has an affair with a lonely and insecure woman.  In both films, it turns out that Sabato is not exactly who he first appears to be.  (If you want, feel free to insert your own joke about Sabato endorsing Donald Trump here because I’m too lazy to come up with one.)  Perhaps not coincidentally, both films were directed by Michael Feifer and both films premiered on the Lifetime Movie Network.

(For the record, I recorded Inspired To Kill off of LMN on November 13th.)

Inspired To Kill tells the story of Kara (Karissa Lee Staples), a self-described aspiring writer who is recovering from a personal trauma.  (Her boyfriend was murdered, which is definitely one way to get out of a relationship.)  Having fled the painful memories of her former life in New York City, Kara is now living in Los Angeles and everything should be perfect….

Except, it’s not!

Yes, Kara may be living in L.A. but everyone knows that, if you want to be a real writer, you have to live in NYC.

Yes, Kara has been accepted into a prestigious creative writing program but her professor (Jay Pickett) is a total sleaze who keeps trying to hit on her.

Yes, Kara has managed to land a job as a barista but her boss (Daniel Booko) is a demanding jerk.  He even gets upset when she misses work for several days in a row.

Yes, Kara has met the cute and charming Jason (Matthew Atkinson) but Jason sometimes seems oddly hesitant about pursuing a relationship with her.  (Plus, Jason wants to be a lawyer, which means that, when the revolution does come, he might be on the wrong side.)

Yes, Kara is renting a room from the fun-loving Charlie (Olivia d’Abo) but Charlie is also a heavy drinker and can be a bit self-absorbed.  Charlie’s solution to every problem is to go out, get drunk, and pick up a college student … actually, Charlie might have the right idea…

And yes, Kara has finally managed to meet her idol, the true crime writer P.K. Reese (Antonio Sabato, Jr) but there seems to be something a little bit off about him.  He’s supportive of her as a writer but, at the same time, he gets upset if anyone other than him reads her work.  He says that he wants to meet her friends and yet, he goes out of his way to avoid them.  And when more and more people in her life start to suddenly die, Kara finds herself wondering if maybe her new lover was somehow involved…

You’re probably thinking that you’ve got Inspired To Kill all figured out but there’s a big twist that occurs towards the end of the film.  Now, I have to admit that I figured out the twist, largely because I’ve seen so many Lifetime films that it is now basically impossible to fool me.  But, even with that in mind, the twist was still pretty clever and actually, a lot of fun in its wonderfully implausible way.  I mean, if you’re expecting the twist to actually make any sense than you have no business watching a Lifetime movie in the first place.  Don’t worry about logic.  Just sit back and enjoy the film.

Anyway, I rather liked Inspired To Kill.  It’s an enjoyable and well-acted little thriller, one that will keep you entertained.  It’s the type of unapologetically crazed and lurid melodrama that reminds me why I fell in love with the Lifetime Movie Network in the first place.  Inspired To Kill is a lot of fun.  Keep an eye out for it!

Film Review: Wrong Swipe (dir by Matthew Leutwyler)


The image above is a still from a film called Wrong Swipe.  The women are sisters.  Anna (Anna Hutchison, who may be best known for playing doomed Jules in The Cabin In The Woods) is an uptight law school student who spends way too much time studying.  Her sister, Sasha (Karissa Lee Staples), decides that Anna desperately needs to get laid so she goads her into downloading the Swipe app.

What’s Swipe?

Well, for one thing, it’s an app with a really bad name.  But, beyond that, it’s kinda like Match.com for people who specifically want to run the risk of being stalked by a psycho.  If a user finds a profile that she likes, she “swipes” the profile.  The app uses the phone’s GPS to send you an alert whenever someone who you’ve swiped is nearby.

“Your crush is 100 feet away…”

So, Anna joins Swipe.  In order to make sure that her sister understand how it all works, Sasha decides to swipe some random guy’s profile.  That random guy just happens to be Todd (Blake Berris), the creepy guy who sits behind Anna in her criminal justice class.  Now, Todd thinks that Anna has a crush on him.

“You swiped me!” Todd says, at one point.

Anna goes on a few other Swipe dates.  She reconnects with a guy she vaguely knew in high school, Nate (Kevin Joy) but it turns out that Nate is kind of a jerk and plus, he attempts to drug her drink during their date.  Uh-oh, Nate’s not a good guy!

Then Anna meets Pete (Philipp Karner).  Pete is sweet and sensitive and handsome.  Anna and he have an immediate connection and, as you watch them together, you just know that they’re eventually going to end up in a commercial for Swipe.com.  Anna and Pete will be sitting in front of a fireplace.  Anna will say, “I joined Swipe.com and two days later, look what I found.”  And then Pete will say…

Well, actually, Pete won’t say anything.  Pete ends up getting murdered.  Sorry, Anna.  Could Pete’s murder be somehow connected to the anonymous threatening messages that Anna has been getting ever since she joined Swipe?

In case you hadn’t already guessed, Wrong Swipe is a Lifetime film.  It aired on February 13th, just in time for Valentine’s Day.  There are a few things that you can always be sure about when it comes to Lifetime films.  You can always be sure that men will be untrustworthy, mom will always be right, and the bonds of sisterhood will never be broken.  You can also always be sure that using any sort of technology will lead to grave misfortune.  I’ve lost track of how many Lifetime films I’ve seen about terrible things happening as a result of someone spending too much time online.

(It’s kinda like that film Disconnect, except more fun and less preachy.)

With Wrong Swipe, Lifetime exposes the dangers of online dating for the hundredth time.  At this point, Lifetime has gone from being Television For Women to being the “You Kids And Your Goddamn Gadgets!” Network.  That said, there’s a certain charm to how predictable it all is.  Lifetime is all about the melodrama and Wrong Swipe has plenty of that.  It may be familiar but it’s comfortable at the same time.

Wrong Swipe was probably at its best when it dealt with the bond between Anna and Sasha.  Their relationship reminded me of my relationship with my sisters.  At the same time, it was hard not to wonder how Anna could possibly have randomly met so many weird men in such a short amount of time.  One of them, of course, had to be weird because he was the psycho who was stalking her.  But the others were just red herrings who all happened to act like psychos even if they weren’t the psycho.  In fact, all of the men were so over-the-top in their suspicious behavior that it actually made it easy to figure out who the stalker was because he was the only suspect who wasn’t totally and completely obvious.

One final note: Wrong Swipe is unique for actually showing Anna doing a Google search.  Usually, Lifetime films will come up with a fake search engine for its characters to use but Wrong Swipe went ahead and just used google.  That said, Anna was not using quotation marks when she typed in her search terms so it probably took her far longer than necessary to find what she was looking for.

As for whether or not you should make it a point to see Wrong Swipe the next time it comes on TV … eh.  It’s nothing special but if you enjoy Lifetime films, it’s okay.