What Lisa Watched This Morning #204: Your Family Or Your Life (a.k.a. April’s Flowers) (dir by Tom Shell)


The morning, I watched the latest Lifetime Movie Network premiere, Your Family Or Your Life!

Why Was I Watching It?

Your Family or Your Life premiered last night on the Lifetime Movie Network but, because it was All Saints’ Day, I spent yesterday with my sisters, singing Shakira songs, not watching anything on television, and basically staying completely offline.  However, I did set the DVR because a non-Christmas related Lifetime premiere is going to be a rarity from now through December.

When I got home this morning, I promptly watched Your Family Or Your Life.

What Was It About?

David Meyer (Alexander Carroll) is a former alcoholic who is now a successful attorney.  His work has led him to discover some illegal shenanigans concerning Erica Hearns (Angelica Bridges).  Hoping to say out of prison, Erica sends Ed (Eric Michael Cole), the world’s most incompetent hitman, to kill David.  Ed manages to make David’s death look like a suicide but David’s widow, Kathy (Jennie Garth) is not convinced.  For that matter, neither is David’s stepdaughter, April (Luca Bella).  Kathy’s best friend, Michelle (Alexandra LeMosle) has some suspicions as well!  Like I said, Ed’s not very good at this.

So now, Ed and Erica have to figure out a way to silence all of the people who don’t think that David committed suicide.  Fortunately, for them, they’ve got an inside player.  Little does April suspect that her boyfriend, Damon (David Gridely), is actually one of Erica’s relatives!

What Worked?

Jennie Garth is just the greatest!  Depending on how old you are, you either know her primarily from Beverly Hills 90210 or What I Like About You.  This film had a 90210-style plot with a What I Like About You attitude and it was fun to watch Garth do things like beat up a burglar with a baseball bat.  Garth brought a lot of energy to her roll.

Angelica Bridges was entertaining as the villain.  Her frustration with Ed was wonderfully performed.  When she realized that Ed had basically screwed up a very simple murder, I think anyone who has ever been a supervisor could relate to her frustration.

The mother-daughter relationship between Kathy and April felt very realistic, especially when it came to Kathy’s immediate dislike of Damon.  That might be because Luca Bella actually is Jennie Garth’s daughter.

What Did Not Work?

I regret that the film made it clear, from the start, that David had been murdered.  I would have preferred a more ambiguous approach, one that left you wondering if David actually had been murdered or if maybe Kathy really was just seeing what she wanted to see.

I also regret that the film did NOT feature the following dialogue:

“Your family or your life!”

“I’m thinking about it!”

“Oh my God!  Just Like Me!” Moments

I also keep a baseball bat near my bedroom door, just in case I ever have to use it.  I don’t think I could wield it as decisively as Jennie Garth does, though.

Lessons Learned

If you’re going to hire a hitman, spend a little extra and get one who is actually good at his job.  Otherwise, things just get too complicated.

What Lisa Watched Last Night #203: Designed to Kill, a.k.a. Deadly Runway, a.k.a. Fatal Fashion (dir by Doug Campbell)


Last night, I turned over to the Lifetime Movie Channel and I watched a movie that has many names.  When it was originally released on Netflix last year, I believe it was called Deadly Runway.  According to the imdb, it’s also known as Fatal Fashion.  Lifetime aired it under the title Designed To Kill.

Well, no matter which title you want to go with, I watched it!

Why Was I Watching It?

How can I review it without watching it first?  This isn’t rocket science, people!  Beyond that, though, I was in the mood for a good Lifetime melodrama.  Of course, right now, Lifetime is currently only showing Christmas movies from here to eternity.  So, if you want to see the type of Lifetime film that we all know and love, you’re only place to turn is the Lifetime Movie Network.

What Was It About?

Basically, it’s a murderous remake of Pygmalion!

Oh, you doubt me?  Well, consider this — Jennifer Higgins (Linsey Godfrey) — is given a job at the local high school, teaching a class about fashion.  David (Joshua Hoffman) ends up in her class, hoping that he can practice his skills as a photographer.  David is awkward, shy, wears glasses, has no fashion sense, and his hair is almost always a mess.  Jennifer takes one look at him and decides to prove that she can turn anyone into a super model.  Next thing you know, David has new clothes, a new haircut, and a new career.  He almost gets a new girlfriend until Jennifer gets jealous and pushes her off a ledge.

See, there are a few differences between Jennifer and Henry Higgins.  Some of them are obvious.  Jennifer is a woman and is flirtatious.  Henry was a man and a bit of a prick.  But perhaps the biggest difference is that Jennifer Higgins has a tendency to get obsessed with her models and, as mentioned above, Jennifer’s willing to kill people.

Anyway, David is enjoying his new life as a model and Jennifer is enjoying being his mentor but then it turns out that David’s friend, Caitlyn (Ellen Michelle Monohan) has model potential as well!  How will Jennifer handle it when Caitlyn and David are soon appearing on covers together?

What Worked?

Oh Hell, it all worked.  This was so over the top and fun and melodramatic that there was no way not to love it.  Linsey Godfrey was wonderfully insane as Jennifer Higgins and Monhan and Hoffman made for a very adorable couple.  This movie was a lot of fun.

And before anyone starts nitpicking this film or debating whether or not the plot fully made sense, allow me to remind you that if you’re taking a film like this seriously, you’re doing it wrong.  This film was designed to deliver pure entertainment and that’s exactly what it does!

What Didn’t Work?

It all worked!

“Oh my God!  Just like me!” Moments

I related to Caitlyn, mostly because we both have red hair, bad eyesight, and a low tolerance for alcohol.

Lessons Learned

Henry Higgins could have been worse.

What Lisa Watched Last Night #197: My Daughter’s Ransom (dir by Doug Campbell)


On Thursday, I watched the first Lifetime film of 2019, My Daughter’s Ransom!

(a.k.a. My Daughter’s Ransom)

Why Was I Watching It?

New year, new lifetime movies!  Every year brings changes but one thing that will never change will be my love for these films and the enjoyment I get from reviewing them.

What Was It About?

Rachel (Scottie Thompson) has a good life.  Her husband, Tony (Matthew Pohlkamp), is a successful businessman who is on the verge of finalizing a big deal.  Her daughter, Lindsey (McKinley Blehm), is intelligent enough to know all about the theories of Charles Darwin.

Unfortunately, Rachel also has an ex-boyfriend named Carter (Lucas Kerr).  Carter’s just been released from prison and, as quickly becomes apparent, his incarceration did not lead to rehabilitation.  After spending months stalking Rachel and her family, Carter kidnaps Lindsey at the zoo.  If Rachel doesn’t do everything that Carter orders her to do, he’ll kill her daughter.

As Rachel tries to figure out a way to save her daughter, she also has to keep following Carter’s orders, which are not only increasingly outlandish but also increasingly dangerous for both Rachel and everyone that she loves….

What Worked?

As anyone who has spent any time watching the channel can tell you, the theme of abduction is a popular one when it comes to Lifetime movies.  That’s because these films deal with the fears that every parent has, not only that your child will be abducted but that you’ll be powerless to rescue them.  My Daughter’s Ransom did a good job of making that fear feel real, especially in the early moments when Rachel was desperately running around the zoo, looking for her daughter.  (The camera holds Rachel in a tight close-up while she searches for her daughter, emphasizing Rachel’s desperation to find her.)

For a film like this to work, you need a good villain and Lucas Kerr did a great job making Carter into the type of creepy, hissable bad guy who you just couldn’t wait to see get his comeuppance.  In the role of Rachel, Scottie Thompson also did great work and it was impossible not to sympathize with her as she tried to get someone to notice that she was in trouble without Carter figuring out what she was doing.

In fact, the entire cast did a great job.  My two favorite supporting characters were Gina (Davida Williams), the wife of Tony’s business partner, and Skates (Erika Fong), Tony’s secretary.  Neither one of them was willing to put up with any nonsense.  Personally, I think we need a sequel where Gina and Skates team up and solve crimes.

What Did Not Work?

It all worked!  My Daughter’s Ransom got the year off to a good start.

“Oh my God!  Just like me!” Moments

Much like Rachel, I once had a weakness for bad boys.  Actually, now that I think about it, I still do.  That said, the character I most admired was Skates because it didn’t matter how much Carter ordered Rachel to yell at her and threaten to fire her, Skates wasn’t going to let anyone stop her from doing her job.

Lessons Learned

Bad boys never change.

What Lisa Watched Last Night #196: Killer Vacation (dir by Tamar Halpern)


Last night, I watched the latest Lifetime Movie Network premiere, Killer Vacation!

Why Was I Watching It?

Because it was new and it was on the Lifetime Movie Network, of course!

Also, I watched it because the Christmas season has begun, which means that Lifetime is mostly going to be showing holiday movies for the next few weeks.  I absolutely love Christmas movies but, even during the holidays, there are times when you just want to see an over-the-top melodrama about someone trying to go on vacation without dying.  Killer Vacation offered a beak from the relentless holiday cheer so, of course, I was going to watch it while shopping online for Christmas decorations.

What Was It About?

Lindsey (Alexa Havins) is having an affair with her boss, Jake (Jacob Young).  Unfortunately, Jake’s married.  He swears that he’s getting divorced but Lindsey can’t help but notice that he still wears his wedding ring.  When Lindsey learns that she’s pregnant, Jake suggests that they go on a vacation together.  Soon, they’re at a resort in New Mexico and strange things are happening!

Could it have anything to do with the fact that Jake’s wife is wandering around the resort as well?  And what about the passive-aggressive private detective who keeps popping up at the most awkward possible moments?  And then there’s that handsome and overly friendly yoga instructor.  Is he trying to help or does he have ulterior motives?

One thing’s for sure.  This vacation is taking a deadly turn!

What Worked?

Never underestimate just how big a factor wish-fulfillment is when it comes to understanding the appeal of a good Lifetime film.  When a Lifetime film has the word “vacation” in the title, that means that the film is promising you lot of pretty scenery and a nice resort.  On that front, Killer Vacation definitely delivered!  New Mexico looked beautiful and I really liked the hotel where Jake and Lindsey were staying.

(In fact, that hotel reminded me of Paradise Hotel.  Remember that old reality show?  I used to watch marathons of it on the much-missed Fox Reality Channel.  The fact that we only got two seasons of Paradise Hotel is a crime!)

What Did Not Work?

At times, Lindsey seemed almost too dumb to be believed.  I mean, don’t get me wrong.  We’ve all been there.  At some point, we’ve all fallen for the wrong guy and ignored all of our friends telling us we were making a mistake and accepted some pretty flimsy excuses for some unforgivable behavior.  So, it’s not that I couldn’t sympathize with Lindsey but seriously, it took Lindsey a really long time to reach the point that most people would reach right away.  Myself, I would buy a plane ticket home as soon as I suspected that my married lover had tried to push me off a cliff.  Maybe that’s just me.

As well, the identity of the murderer was just a bit too obvious.  The film did attempt to introduce some red herrings but it was pretty obvious who the killer was going to turn out to be.

“Oh my God!  Just like me!” Moments

I related to the scene where Lindsey slipped on a mountain path and nearly fell to her death.  That’s one reason why I rarely go to the desert because I would totally end up being the girl who got distracted and accidentally walked over the edge of a cliff.

Lessons Learned

Never pass up the opportunity to take a free yoga class!  Seriously, your life might depend upon it!

What Lisa Watched Last Night #195: Long Lost Daughter (dir by Christopher James Lang)


On Friday night, I watched the latest Lifetime premiere, Long Lost Daughter!

Why Was I Watching It?

First off, let me just say that, considering what the folks on the East Coast have had to deal with over the past two weeks, I feel really guilty about complaining about getting a little bit of rain in Texas.  (And it’s not really a complaint because, to be honest, I love stormy weather!)

That said, it rained all day Friday and it’s supposed to continue to rain through the weekend.  When I was driving home from work, the rain was so bad that I actually had to limit myself to 30 mph.  We’re under flash flood warning right now.  What better way to pass the time when you’re trapped inside by a storm than be watching a Lifetime movie?

What Was It About?

Cathy Rhodes (Molly Hagan) is a successful and acclaimed author of children’s books.  She’s written hundreds of stories about Mr. Poppins, a rabbit who can’t find his way home.  It’s made her a beloved figure in her small town but there are some who find Cathy and her husband (Bates Wilder) to be a little bit strange.  They whisper about how, 20 years earlier, Cathy’s 7 year-old daughter, Michelle, vanished.

Meanwhile, two new arrivals have come to town.  Jonathan (Richard Brancatisano) is an aspiring science fiction writer.  And his wife (Sofia Mattson) is going to help run the education center that Cathy has helped to fund.  It turns out that Jonathan’s wife is 27 years old and has no memory of her mother or her childhood.  And her name is …. Michelle!

Could Michelle be Cathy’s daughter?  That’s certainly what Cathy thinks and she’s willing to do anything to make sure that both her daughter and Mr. Poppins find their way home…

What Worked?

Molly Hagan may not be a household name but I can guarantee you that you would recognize her if you saw her.  She’s been in a countless number of films over the years and she is a truly great character actress.  She’s played so many different characters and she’s been totally convincing every time.  (I think her best-known recent film might be Sully, where she played one of the flight attendants who chanted, “Brace!  Brace!  Head down!  Stay down!”)  Anyway, Hagan does a great job as the Cathy Rhodes, making her both frightening and sympathetic.

Also giving a good performance was Bates Wilder, who played Cathy’s somewhat creepy husband.  Both he and Hagan keep you guessing.

Speaking of keeping you guessing, this film had an ambiguous ending that I absolutely loved.  I won’t spoil it but it was handled very well.  It’s the type of ending that I wish Lifetime would try more often.  Sometime, it’s not necessary to spell everything out.

What Did Not Work?

Could Michelle and Jonathan have been anymore unlikable?  Michelle acted like moving from the city to a small town was the equivalent of moving to a different country.  When Cathy mentioned she was making a casserole, Michelle’s smug response of, “Casserole!” was enough to make me decided that I wouldn’t ever want to know someone like Michelle in real life.

As for Jonathan … well, I lost all sympathy for him when he announced that, for him, being a writer was about business and not art.  “No one ever reads Proust anymore,” he said, at one point.  What a jerk!  Michelle, at least, kinda redeemed herself as the film progressed.  But Jonathan …. well, once a jerk, always a jerk.

“Oh my God!  Just like me!” Moments

Whenever Michelle got annoyed with Jonathan, I was like, “Oh my God!  I feel the exact same way!”

Lessons Learned

Don’t insult Proust.

What Lisa Watched Last Night #193: House of Darkness: New Blood (dir by Patrick DeLuca)


Last night, I watched the latest Lifetime Movie Network premiere, House of Darkness: New Blood!

Why Was I Watching It?

The main reason I was watching it was because it was on Lifetime.

That said, I was also intrigued by the fact that Lifetime was premiering a horror film.  In the past, horror has been one of the few genres that Lifetime has usually avoided.  It’s only been rather recently that Lifetime started to show movies that could even be considered a part of the horror genre and, as a horror aficionado, I’m curious to see what this development will lead to.

Of course, another big reason why I was watching it was because it’s been raining nonstop since Thursday so, for once, I actually spent a Friday night at home.  There’s nothing like watching a horror movie while surrounded by rain, thunder, and lightning!

What Was It About?

Judd (Liam McNeill) has asked Brooke (Kate Stone) to marry him!  Yay!

There’s only a few problems.  For one, Brooke’s creepy son, Dylan (Jake T. Getman), doesn’t seem to like Judd that much.  Secondly, Brooke has yet to meet Judd’s mother, Elaine (Hilary Momberger-Powers).  Elaine, it turns out, lives in a big house out in the country, a house that’s full of secrets and — you guessed it — darkness!  When Judd takes Brooke and Dylan out to the house, Elaine doesn’t seem to be happy to see any of them.  Judd says that it’s just a symptom of Elaine’s dementia but is that all there is to it?

Soon, Brooke is hearing weird noises, seeing dark shadows, and having terrible nightmares.  Judd says that it’s probably just a side effect of the sleep aid that she’s taking but Brooke isn’t too sure.  Is it all in Brooke’s head or has she truly discovered …. A HOUSE OF DARKNESS!?

What Worked?

There were a few effectively creepy moments.  The house was big and spooky and full of ominous atmosphere and Hilary Momberger-Powers did a good job as Elaine.  She kept you guessing and off-balance.

What Did Not Work?

House of Darkness ran into the same problem that’s haunted a lot of made-for-TV horror films.  It’s difficult to maintain suspense when you the story has to come to a stop every 15-to-20 minutes for a commercial break.  Every time that I found myself starting to get invested in the storyline, it was suddenly time for that Humira commercial where that guy meets his girlfriend’s parents for the first time.

The fact that it was on television also meant that the horror often had to be a bit low-key.  There was one hanging scene that was effectively horrific but otherwise, the film often felt a bit too restrained to be fully effective.

“Oh my God!  Just like me!” Moments

I know that it’s usually said that people are stupid for not just leaving an obviously haunted house but, to be honest, I’d probably stay even longer than Brooke did.  I mean, it’s not every day you get to deal with the paranormal.

Lessons Learned

Always check the lights before moving into a new house.

Cleaning Out The DVR: Deadly Shores (dir by Fred Olen Ray)


(I recorded Deadly Shores off of the Lifetime Movie Network on August 24th!)

Oh my God, isn’t life just perfect!?

That’s what Anna (Carly Schroeder) should be asking herself.  After a whirlwind courtship and engagement, Anna has just married Richard Palmer (Phillip P. Keene), a famous mystery novelist!  Not only is she a newlywed and it appears that she might soon also be newly rich.  Her parents died mysteriously years ago and she stands to come into a lot of money!

Of course, nothing is ever as perfect as it seems.  Her psychiatrist seems to be concerned about Anna acting too impulsively and he worries that she’s marrying Richard without even knowing him.  When Anna arrives at her new home, she is struck by how coldly she’s treated by the housekeeper.  Anna soon starts to feel that everyone is comparing her unfavorably to Richard’s previous wife, the one who died mysteriously at the lighthouse.   And when Anna discovers that Richard has apparently incorporated his first wife’s death into his latest book, she is not amused.  Even worse is how Richard reacts when Anna dares to wear a necklace that once belonged to dead wife.

And then there’s Beth (Kristin Minter), who seems friendly enough except that she’s awfully close to Richard.  Of course, their closeness could have something to do with the fact that she’s Richard’s mistress.  You know what they say: Just because you’re paranoid doesn’t mean that they’re not out to get you.

And, make no mistake about it, people are out to get Anna.  However, what no one realizes is that Anna has got secrets and shadows in her past as well…

With all of the gothic scenery and the insecure wife and the hostile housekeeper, I was expecting Deadly Shores to just be another version of Rebecca.  And, certainly, the first hour or so has much in common with that classic film.  However, in the best grindhouse tradition, there’s a big twist that occurs during the final seven minutes of the film, one that totally turns the entire movie upside down.  I won’t ruin the twist but I will say that it was a hugely satisfying one.  In the end, Deadly Shores reminded me of one of those strange movies that Joan Crawford and Olivia de Havilland would have made for William Castle or Robert Aldrich back in the 1960s.

Deadly Shores is one of the many movies to have been directed by the prolific Fred Olen Ray.  What his films often lack in budget, Ray makes up for in pure entertainment.  Ray does a pretty good job directing this one, playing up the ominous atmosphere and giving Carly Schroeder enough room to go enjoyably over-the-top in the role of Anna.

All in all, Deadly Shores is an entertaining Lifetime film and one to keep an eye out for.