Raymond (Dean Stockwell) has just escaped from a mental hospital and he has only one thing on his mind. Raymond wants revenge. Having looked over the past events of his life, Raymond has figured out that things started to go downhill for him when he failed a test in high school. He blames his failure on his old teacher, Mary Bloomquist (Jane Wyman).
At the same time that Raymond is escaping, Mary is planning her retirement. She’s decided that she no longer wants to teach. The job just doesn’t seem worth it anymore. But Raymond has other ideas. Raymond wants her to give him the same test that he failed ten years before. And this time, Raymond wants her to pass him or else.
The Failing of Raymond is a made-for-TV movie from 1971 and it features a good performance from Jane Wyman and a great one from Dean Stockwell. The film ultimately hinges on one question. Did Raymond really fail that test or did Mary fail Raymond?
Eagle Lake, a mountain resort town in California, has a problem. It’s almost tourist season and there is a sniper stalking through the night, using his rifle to pick off citizens and painting messages like “The First” and “The Second” in the snow. It’s up to police chief Sam McNeill (Andy Griffith) to figure out the killer’s motives and capture him before the vacation season begins! To catch the killer, McNeill is going to have to investigate his friends and neighbors, all of whom have secrets that they don’t want to have revealed.
1974 was a busy year for Andy Griffith. Best-known for playing the folksy and reassuring Sheriff Taylor for over ten years on The Andy Griffith Show, Griffith tried to change his image by appearing in three unexpectedly dark made-to-TV movies. In Pray For The Wildcatsand Savages, Griffith played the villain. In Winter Kill, he’s back in a more familiar role. He is once again playing a lawman, though this one carries a gun and doesn’t have time to sit on his porch and play the guitar while Aunt Bea makes dinner. Instead, he’s getting pressure from all sides to capture a psycho sniper who, at the start of the movie, shoots an old woman after throwing pebbles at her bedroom window. Eventually, the sniper even ends up kidnapping Chief McNeill’s girlfriend! This never happened in Mayberry!
Winter Kill is a pretty good mystery. It’s not strictly a horror film but the sight of the masked sniper, making his way through the night and coldy gunning down unsuspecting victims is scary enough that it might as well be. Andy Griffith was surprisingly tough and gritty as Chief McNeill. He might be a good guy in this movie but you still know better than to mess with him. The rest of the cast is made up of television regulars but keep an eye out for a youngish Nick Notle playing a cocky ski instructor.
Winter Kill was actually meant to be a backdoor pilot for a show where Chief McNeill would battle crime on a weekly basis. Though that didn’t happen, the concept was later retooled and became a short-lived series called Adams of Eagle Lake.