Here’s The Trailer For Zombie Tidal Wave


In case you were wondering what SyFY was going to do now that the Sharknado franchise has concluded …. well, here’s your answer!

Zombie Tidal Wave features underwater zombies, just like one of my favorite horror movies, Shock Waves.  Shock Waves was a rather disturbing film, the type of thing that inspires nightmares.  Zombie Tidal Wave looks like it might be a little bit more light-hearted.

Here’s the trailer!

Lifetime Film Review: The Wrong Mommy (dir by David DeCoteau)


If there’s anything that I’ve learned from my long history of watching Lifetime films, it’s that having a real job just isn’t worth the trouble.

Just consider what Melanie (Jessica Morris) goes through in The Wrong Mommy.  She’s got a real job.  She also has a handsome husband (Jason-Shane Scott), an adorable daughter (Jillian Spitz), and a mother (Dee Wallace) who enjoys going on exotic cruises.  Melanie also has a really nice and really big house, the type of house that would probably be the “slightly more than you’re willing to pay” house on an episode of House Hunters.  But can she enjoy it?  No, of course not!  It’s all because she’s got a real job.  She can’t pick up her daughter after school.  She can’t go out at night.  She can’t do anything because she’s got a real job.

However, during the first few minutes of The Wrong Mommy, Melanie gets some good news!  She’s been promoted!  She’s now a senior executive or whatever it is that you get promoted to when you’ve got a real job.  Along with having real responsibilities, Melanie is also about to get a real assistant!

Here’s another thing that I’ve learned from my long history of watching Lifetime films, as well as from my own past experience in the administrative professional field.  Be very careful about hiring an assistant.  Especially if she only has one obscure reference on her resume.  Even if she’s willing to babysit your daughter for you, be careful.  Don’t look the other way when she flirts with your husband.  And, for the love of everything holy in this world, don’t tell her the one secret that could lead to you losing a big account!

Unfortunately, Melanie doesn’t exercise caution about any of that and, as a result, she ends up hiring Phoebe (Ashlynn Yennie).  Even before Phoebe shows up for her interview, we’ve already seen her following Melanie around town and spying on her.  In fact, even before the opening credits conclude, Phoebe is breaking into Melanie’s house and planting spy cameras.  We know better than to trust Phoebe and soon, Melanie discovers that she made a mistake hiring her.  However, it may be too late to do anything about it….

Now, to the film’s credit, Phoebe isn’t just some random psycho bitch trying to ruin someone else’s life.  It turns out that she has a backstory, one that actually does involve Melanie.  I won’t spoil anything by revealing it but it’s a pretty good backstory.  Ashley Yennie appears to be having a lot of fun in the role of Phoebe.  If you’re going to be in a Lifetime movie, you definitely want to play the villain.  They usually get all the good lines and get to wear all the pretty clothes.

Like most of Lifetime’s “Wrong” films, this one was directed by David DeCoteau, who know exactly the right tone to take for a film like this.  He plays up the melodrama while never allowing the film to take itself too seriously.  (Just check out the scene where Dee Wallace shouts out the film’s title.)  As with all the “Wrong” films, Vivica A. Fox shows up as a no-nonsense authority figure.  (This time, she plays Melanie’s boss.)  The great Eric Roberts also shows up for a few minutes, playing a sleazy client.  Roberts doesn’t have much screen time but, as usual, he makes memorable use of what he gets.

The Wrong Mommy is an enjoyably silly film.  It doesn’t take itself too seriously and neither should you.

Here’s That Trailer For Cats


Okay, so apparently, some people find the just-released trailer for Cats to be kinda creepy.

Speaking for myself, the trailer pretty much looks like what I would expect a film version of Cats to look like.  I mean, the entire point of the stage production is that everyone dresses up like a cat and sings their heart out!  The cat costumes and the makeup are a part of the production so I don’t know what everyone’s complaining about….

Well, okay, I will admit that I cringed when Rebel Wilson showed up but that’s just because it was so inevitable that Rebel Wilson would be in this movie.  She’s like the female version of James Corden and …. oh wait, he’s in the film too?

Listen, I’m going to say it right now.  Cats is going to be great.  Well, maybe not great but it’s definitely going to be something that you’re going to want to be able to tell your children that you witnessed firsthand.  A friend of mine hasn’t done shrooms in like ten years but he’s planning on indulging for one night only, the night that he sees this film.  That’s type of cultural phenomena that Cats has the potential to be!  (That said, he won’t be seeing the movie with me because I don’t want to be around if he has a bad trip.  I’m never really sure what my exact obligation is in a situation like that.)  Some people are going to hate this film but I like the whole idea of the film encouraging people to believe in something more than just pure cynicism,  I just wish the film starred actual cats.

Anyway, here’s the trailer.  Taylor Swift’s in it so you know the movie’s going to be a financial success no matter what the critics say.

Lifetime Film Review: Trapped Model (dir by Damian Romay)


If there’s anything that can definitely be said about Lifetime films, it’s that they always feature the nicest houses.

Take Trapped Model, for instance.  Now, this film is also known as The Model Murders and A Model Kidnapping so, right away, you know that it’s not going to be a happy story about how wonderful it is to be a model.  No, this is a film about a young woman named Grace (Lucy Loken) who runs away to Florida so that she can have her picture taken by a seemingly reputable photographer named Hunter (Wes McGee).  Hunter, of course, is charming at first but he soon turns out to be a total sleaze who, with the help of his assistant Nicole (Katherine Diaz), takes Grace prisoner and forces her to strip on camera for a worldwide audience of pervs and incels.  That’s a nightmarish story, one that’s made all the more disturbing by the fact that it’s very plausible.  I mean, I’ve met more than a few real-life Hunters and I saw pieces of all of them in Wes McGee’s unnerving and menacing performance.  And yet, as I watched the movie, I couldn’t stop thinking about how nice Hunter’s house was.

I mean, seriously!  This place was huge and it had a pool and, even more importantly, it was totally spotless.  Remember that mansion where Al Pacino kept his mountain of cocaine in Scarface?  That place had nothing on Hunter’s home.  In the film, Hunter used his mansion to give himself legitimacy.  Grace was lured into trusting Hunter by all of his visible signs of success.  Now, of course, those of us in the audience knew better.  We’ve seen enough Lifetime films to know better than to trust anyone who is as superficially charming as Hunter.  But still, even though we were all like, “Don’t trust him!  Don’t agree to stay overnight!  Stay out the guest house!,” it was impossible not to appreciate that house.

“Wow,” I exclaimed as I watched the film, “Maybe it’d be worth getting kidnapped just to live in that house!”

“That’s not funny, Lisa Marie!” came the replies and technically, I guess it wasn’t.  Still….

The other thought that I had as I watched Trapped Model was that it was unfortunate that Grace wasn’t Liam Neeson’s daughter.  I mean, we all know that no one gets away with kidnapping a member of the Neeson family.  Unfortunately, Grace has to depend on the investigative skills of her mother (Kiki Harris) and her boyfriend (Seth Goodfellow), neither one of whom has been trained to thwart kidnappings.  Instead, they have to go to the police, who turn out to be fairly ineffectual.  Usually, I kind of roll my eyes at the incompetent cops who populate Lifetime films but, in this case, the film made good use of the trope.  As soon as Grace is kidnapped, it’s obvious that she’s going to have to be the one to figure out a way to escape her captors.  You find yourself cheering her every success and dreading her every setback.

For the most part, Trapped Model was just as impressive as Hunter’s house.  This was a well-executed melodrama, featuring brisk direction from Damian Romay and excellent performances from Lucy Loken, Wes McGee, and Katherine Diaz.  In the end, Trapped Model is one of the better Lifetime films that I’ve seen this year and I’m not just saying that because of the house.

Lifetime Film Review: Stalked By My Doctor: A Sleepwalker’s Nightmare (dir by Jeff Hare)


Look out everyone!  Dr. Beck is back!

Played by Eric Roberts, Albert Beck is the anti-hero at the center of the Stalked By My Doctor films.  He was once a brilliant heart surgeon, up until he grew obsessed with one of his patients and was forced to go on the run.  That happened in 2015’s Stalked By My DoctorStalked By My Doctor was so successful that it has inspired, to date, three sequels.  Each film features the same basic plot, in which Dr. Beck assumes another doctor’s identity, becomes obsessed with another patient, and ends up murdering the usual collection of dumb boyfriends and nosy coworkers.  Ever since the third film, Dr. Beck has spent a lot of time talking to himself, which the franchise usually represents literally by having two Doctor Becks appear on screen at the same time and arguing with each other.  The real Dr. Beck usually wears a suit and a lab coat and is prone to thinking that he’s finally going to find true love.  The imaginary Dr. Beck wears a Hawaiian shirt and is always holding a tropical drink.  Of course, this means that you get twice as much Eric Roberts as advertised!

And indeed, Eric Roberts is the main reason why this franchise has thrived.  Lifetime is full of movies about stalkers but only the Stalked By My Doctor franchise features Eric Roberts at his most demented.  (We make a lot of jokes about Eric Roberts on this site but the truth of the matter is that he’s actually a very good actor and he’s given some very good performances over the course of his long career.  If nothing else, he’s a more consistently interesting actor than his better-known sister, Julia.)  In the role of Dr. Beck, Eric Roberts never makes any attempt to be the least bit subtle and that’s exactly why the films work.  If you take every creepy doctor and touchy-feely male friend that you’ve ever had to deal with and combined them into one ubercreep, the end result would be Dr. Beck.  He’s arrogant.  He’s condescending.  He’s got the creepiest smile in the world.  And yet, despite his personal issues, he’s also a lot of fun to watch.  Eric Roberts always seems like he’s having fun in these movies as he discovers new ways to communicate the fact that Dr. Beck is an absolute creep.

There are two things that I especially like about the Stalked By My Doctor films:

Number one, they take place in a world where someone who looks and sounds like Eric Roberts can somehow evade detection despite making absolutely no effort to disguise his appearance or change his voice.  For instance, in the franchise’s fourth film, Stalked By My Doctor: A Sleepwalker’s Nightmare (which aired on Lifetime this weekend), we find Dr. Beck working as a server at a roadside diner.  As in the previous films, he’s still frequently distracted by wild fantasies and elaborate schemes for revenge.  But what’s hilarious is that Dr. Beck is apparently one of the most wanted men in America but none of the customers at this seemingly busy diner ever says, “Hey, that mysterious server looks just like that murderer who was all over the news!”  To the film’s credit, it also makes it clear that the film itself is in on the joke.  We’re supposed to enjoy the rather odd sight of Eric Roberts pouring coffee and awkwardly flirting with his customers.  We’re not supposed to worry about whether or not it’s a plausible development.

Number two, I love the fact that there’s literally nothing that Dr. Beck cannot do.  Seriously, Dr. Beck has got to be the most brilliant medical mind of all time because there’s not a single field of medical care that he cannot conquer.  When we first met Dr. Beck, he was a heart surgeon.  In the fourth film, he steals the identity of a specialist in sexsomnia.  He manages to do all of this without missing a beat or giving himself away.  All you have to do is give Dr. Beck a lab coat and he can basically do anything!

This time around, Dr. Beck is obsessed with the niece (Angeline Appel) of one of his patients, Michelle (Emilie Ullerup).  Once again, Dr. Beck is breaking hearts and ending lives while, at the same time, arguing with his Hawaiian shirt-wearing alter ego.  And again, there’s murder, love, and melodrama.  It wouldn’t be a Stalked By My Doctor movie, otherwise!

And it’s all lot of fun.  Just when you think that the franchise has run out of gas, Eric Roberts adds another layer of quirkiness to his performance and you find yourself enthralled again.  As I hinted at above, the best thing about the Stalked By My Doctor films is that they know that they’re ludicrous and they make no apologies for being what they are.  Much like A Deadly Adoption, the Stalked By My Doctor films poke fun at the Lifetime format while still showing enough respect for the audience that no one watching is going to feel as if they’re being condescended to.  The film is totally over-the-top and silly but it’s Eric Roberts so who cares?  What else would you expect?  Are you not amused?

When watching Stalked By My Doctor: A Sleepwalker’s Revenge, keep an eye out for Felissa Rose.  Rose plays one of Beck’s colleagues.  Horror fans know her best from her starring role in the original Sleepaway Camp.  Her casting is one of those touches that sets Stalked By My Doctor: A Sleepwalker’s Revenge apart from other Lifetime films.

In its way, the Stalked By My Doctor franchise has the potential to be Lifetime’s equivalent of the Sharknado films.  Personally, I can’t wait to see where Dr. Beck turns up next!

 

Lifetime Film Review: The Wrong Boy Next Door (dir by David DeCoteau)


“Don’t trust your neighbor,” proclaims the tagline for The Wrong Boy Next Door and that’s certainly true when it comes to Lifetime films.

Seriously, in a Lifetime movie, your neighbor is either going to be a seemingly nice woman who is going to end up trying to steal your baby or else a really hot guy who never wears a shirt and who is secretly plotting to kill you and your friends.  In the case of The Wrong Boy Next Door, we get the hot psycho who is always wandering outside without a shirt on.  John (Travis Burns) may be intriguing but he’s also dangerous.  It might be fun to watch him while he’s out in his garage but if he starts watching you back …. look out!

The Wrong Boy Next Door really does capture an essential truth.  Bad boys are sexy and the more dangerous the better.  While watching the film, it was easy for me to yell that Katie (played by Calli Taylor) was making a huge mistake by trusting John but, honestly, I probably would have made the same mistake back when I was in high school.  First off, there’s the fantasy of being the one girl who can reform a bad boy.  Secondly, there’s the fact that, when you’re a teenager, you do stupid things because you think you’re smarter than you actually are.  I mean, really, that’s the whole appeal of being young.  It’s the only time in your life that you can get away with being totally dumb and irresponsible.  That’s why there are people in their 30s who are already feeling nostalgic for high school.

Having watched the film, I can say that Katie is one of the greatest Lifetime heroines ever.  From the minute the movie starts, she’s getting in trouble.  First, she gets caught vaping at school and this leads to her being suspended for a few days.  It’s during that time that she first spots John walking around outside.  She invites him inside and, two minutes later, they’re kissing.  Then, when Katie returns to school, one of her teachers spots her checking her phone in class.  When the teacher demands the phone, Katie throws it at her and literally knocks the teacher to the ground!  (The school’s principal later says that the teacher looks like she got hit in the face by a baseball.)  Go Katie!

So now, Katie’s under house arrest!  That means that she has to wear one of those ankle bracelets that beeps if you leave your front yard.  The detective in charge of Katie’s house arrest is played by none other than Vivica A. Fox so you know that if Katie breaks the rules, she’s going to be in a lot of trouble.  Unfortunately, being stuck in her house is kind of a problem because Katie suspects that John might be as good a guy as he’s pretending to be.  But how can she investigate without going outside!?

The Wrong Boy Next Door was a hell of a lot of fun, largely due to Calli Taylor’s energetic and sympathetic performance as Katie and Travis Burns’s menacing turn as John.  As is typical of Lifetime’s “Wrong” films, director David DeCoteau kept the action moving at a brisk pace and Vivica A. Fox brought her usual flair to yet another no-nonsense authority figure.  All in all, The Wrong Boy Next Door is one for which to keep an eye out.

Film Review: Payday (dir by Daryl Duke)


First released way back in 1972, Payday tells the story of Maury Dann (played by the late, great Texas actor, Rip Torn).

Maury is a country singer.  He sings songs about wholesome values and good country girls.  His music isn’t exactly ground-breaking but his fans still love him and it’s easy to see why.  The movie opens with Maury performing in a small, country club and his charisma is undeniable.  He has a good singing voice and he easily dominates the stage.  Between songs, he flashes a friendly but slightly mischievous smile.  After his performance, he is perfectly charming when he meets his older fans.  And, when he meets a younger fan, he takes her outside and has sex with her in the backseat of his Cadillac.  He does this while her boyfriend is wandering around the parking lot looking for her.

Maury is a man who is in control when he’s on stage.  However, when he’s off-stage, the real Muary comes out.  When he’s not singing and basking in the applause of his fans, Maury is …. well, he’s a total mess.  Actually, mess doesn’t quite do justice to just how screwed up Maury Dann is.  He cheats on his girlfriend.  He pops pills constantly.  He treats the members of his band with a casual cruelty.  When Maury’s off-stage, that charming smile changes into a rather demented smirk.  Just when you think Maury’s done the worst possible thing that he could do, he does something even worse.

Payday follows Maury as he is driven through the South, singing songs and ruining lives.  Along the way, he gets into a fight with his mother and then a fight with his ex-wife and eventually, a fight with the boyfriend of that younger fan from the start of the movie.  We watch as Maury drinks, bribes DJs, and frames his employees for all sorts of crimes.  It’s an episodic film about a man who seems to understand that he’s destined to self-destruct no matter what he does.

Payday is very much a film of the early 70s.  Though the film may be about a self-destructive country star, it’s hard not to suspect that — as with most of the films from that era — Maury and his adventures were meant to be a metaphor for America itself.  Country Western is a uniquely American genre and by showcasing the damage that Maury does to everyone around him, the film seems to be suggesting that Maury’s sins are also America’s sins.  The people who idolize Maury and make him a star despite all of his flaws are the same people who reelected Richard Nixon and supported sending young men to die in Vietnam.

It’s all a bit much for one film to carry on its shoulders and spending two hours with Maury Dann is not exactly a pleasant experience but the film works because of the performance of Rip Torn.  When Torn died earlier this week, there was a lot of discussion about which performance was his best.  Quite a few people on twitter cited his roles in Defending Your Life and The Larry Sanders Show.  I personally mentioned The Man Who Fell To Earth and Maidstone.  But if you really want to see what made Rip Torn such a great actor, you simply must watch Payday.  Maury is a jerk with little in the way of redeeming qualities but Torn gives such a fearless and cheerfully demented performance that it’s impossible not to get caught up in his story.  As much as you want to look away, you can’t because Rip Torn keeps you so off-balance that you cannot stop watching.  Torn is smart enough to play Maury with just enough self-awareness that the character becomes fascinatingly corrupt as opposed to just being a self-centered jerk.

Finally, Payday simply feels authentic.  The film was made way before my time but I’m a Southern girl who has spent enough time in the country to know that the backroads of rural America haven’t changed that much over the past few decades.  At times, while watching Payday, I felt like I was back on my granduncle’s farm in Arkansas, walking through high grass and listening to the cicadas while watching the sun go down.

Payday is definitely a film that’s worth the trouble to track down.  Watch it and appreciate the fearless genius of the great Rip Torn.