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


“He was the wrong stepfather!” Principal Higgins (Vivica A. Fox) announces towards the end of The Wrong Stepfather and she’s got a point.

Admittedly, Craig (Corin Nemec) might seem like a nice guy.  He’s a college guidance counselor who specializes in helping out single moms who are worried that their daughters might not be able to get into college.  Craig will do anything to help out.  He rewrite an admissions essay.  He’ll change grades.  He’ll do just about anything.  Craig is all about family and nothing brings a family together like someone getting into a good college.  Of course, sometimes might break the law or violate the code of ethics in his quest to get everyone into college but that’s just to make sure that no one ever snitches on him.  I mean, that makes sense, doesn’t it?  It’s all about family!

Unfortunately, Craig is so into family that it sometimes leads to him going a little bit crazy.  Yes, Craig is a bit unhinged.  Sarah (Sydney Malakeh) suspects as much as soon as she meets Craig but, unfortunately, Craig is dating her mom (Krista Allen) and everyone else seems to be crazy about him.  Everyone seems to believe that Craig will make the perfect stepfather!  Everyone except for Sarah that is.

The Wrong Stepfather is not only an entry in Lifetime’s Wrong series but it’s also basically a remake of the classic thriller, The Stepfather.  Corin Nemec steps into the shoes of Terry O’Quinn, playing the role of the friendly guy who has anger issues and is just a little bit too obsessed with creating the perfect family.  Nemec does a pretty good job with the role.  Nemec’s a naturally likable actor so any film that features him as a villain will automatically feel a bit subversive.  Nemec’s best scenes are the ones where he intimidates the high school guidance counselor, Mr. Crane (William McNamara).  Nemec and McNamara are two pros when it comes to handling Lifetime melodrama and it’s fun to watch them play off of each other.

As for the rest of the film, I enjoyed it.  You pretty much know that Craig is going to be bad news as soon as he shows up but that sense of familiarity is one of the things that makes a film like this fun.  You don’t necessarily watch a Lifetime film to be surprised.  Instead, you watch them with the knowledge that you will always be one step ahead of the other people in the film.  Sydney Malakeh and Krista Allen make for a believe mother-and-daughter team and it must be said that, for a family that’s apparently struggling financially, they live in a very nice house.  Never underestimate the importance of a nice house in a Lifetime film.  It’s one of the reasons why so many of us watch them!

Anyway, Craig may indeed be the wrong stepfather but he’s the right villain for this movie.  Watch it the next time you’re wondering how you’re ever going to be able to pay for college.  Maybe the wrong stepfather could help you out!

Natural Enemy (1996, directed by Douglas Jackson)


This one’s pretty dumb.

William McNamara plays Jeremy, who was given up for adoption 24 years ago and has never gotten over it.  After killing his adoptive parents, his birth father, someone’s mistress, and a private investigator played by Tia Carrere, Jeremy wants to celebrate his 25th birthday by killing his birth mother, Sandy (Lesley Anne Warren).  However, Jeremy wants to draw out Sandy’s suffering so he comes up with a plot so complex that it’s hard to believe that anyone could actually pull it off.

After Jeremy finds out that Sandy’s new husband, Ted (Donald Sutherland, massively slumming), is the head of a small brokerage firm, Jeremy reads every book that he can find and somehow become an expert on the stock market.  Even though Jeremy could have a high-paying job with any firm, he wants to work for Ted’s little firm.  Ted hires Jeremy and Jeremy proceeds to worm his way into Ted and Sandy’s life.  Jeremy also frames Ted for securities fraud, which leads to Ted losing his job and being blacklisted by all of Ted’s highly ethical Wall Street colleagues.  (Yes, I managed to write that with a straight face.)  Despite the fact that Jeremy is obviously disturbed and that Ted and Sandy’s life starts to fall apart from the exact moment that Jeremy becomes a part of it, only Ted and Sandy’s son, Chris (Christian Tessier), suspects that there’s something strange about Jeremy.

This is one of those dumb revenge thrillers that is dependent upon everyone in the movie being as dumb as possible.  Even Jeremy turns out to be dumb.  After killing almost everyone that he meets, Jeremy suddenly decides to keep one person alive and, of course, that decision comes back to haunt Jeremy in the end.  Jeremy is smart enough that he can trick people into believing that he’s a brilliant stock broker but he’s dumb enough to make an obvious mistake.  Of course, everyone else is dumb enough to to not catch on to the fact that Jeremy is a sociopath so the mass dumbness evens out in the end.

Probably the most interesting thing about this movie is that, somehow, Donald Sutherland ended up starring in it.  Even great actors have to put food on the table and hopefully, Sutherland ate well as a result of starring in Natural Enemy.

What Lisa Watched Last Night #187: The Wrong Cruise (dir by David DeCoteau)


Last night, I watched the latest Lifetime premiere, The Wrong Cruise!

Why Was I Watching It?

Well, the obvious answer is that it was on Lifetime and I always watch Lifetime original films.  I’m running a little bit behind in reviewing all of them and, for that, I apologize.  Hopefully, I’ll be able to get caught up next week!

The other reason that I was watching The Wrong Cruise was because it was a “wrong” movie.  As any regular Lifetime watcher knows, there are several different genres of Lifetime movies, each with their own quirks and rules.  There’s the “Killer” movies, which usually feature Barbie Castro.  There’s the “at 17” movies.  There’s the “Deadly” movies.  And then there’s the “Wrong” movies.  Several of these films — including The Wrong Cruise — were directed by David DeCoteau and usually featured Vivica A. Fox and William McNamara in memorable supporting roles.  The “Wrong” movies are always a lot of fun.

What Was It About?

Ever since her father died, teenager Sky Tanner (Sidney Nicole Rogers) has been acting out.  After throwing a punch at track meet, Sky finds herself on the verge of being expelled from school!  Uh-oh!

Fortunately, for Sky, it looks like she’s about to get a break from the stress of dealing with high school.  Her mother, Claire (Vivica A. Fox), is booked on a cruise to Mexico and there’s no way that Claire’s going to leave Sky home alone.

At first, it seems like the perfect vacation!  Claire meets a man named Dante (Andres Londono).  Sky meets a teenage boy named Rico (Adrian Quinta).  Love is in the air!  Dante is charming and quite insistent that Claire go sailing with him.  As for Rico, he’s willing to buy drinks for the underage Sky and he’s more than happy to show Sky around Mexico.

If, at this point, you’re saying, “I don’t trust either of them!,” you’re not alone.  After you’ve seen enough Lifetime films, you know better than to trust any charming stranger.  Add to that, while Sky is drinking with Rico and Claire is flirting with Dante, there’s a creepy ship’s mate (played by William McNamara) who seems to be determined to keep an eye on both of them.  What’s up with that?

What Worked?

This one was a lot of fun, largely because Vivica A. Fox and Sidney Nicole Rogers were totally and completely believable as mother and daughter.  Every time that Claire said something overprotective and Sky reacted by sighing and rolling her eyes, the more you found herself believing in their characters.  When they inevitably ended up getting into trouble, the stakes felt real because the mother/daughter relationship felt real.

Londono and Quinta both did work as Dante and Rico but the film was ultimately stolen by William McNamara.  For such a handsome actor, he’s really good at playing creepy Lifetime movie villains.

What Did Not Work?

I would have liked to have spent a little more time on the cruise ship.  For a film called The Wrong Cruise, it seemed like the boat was a little underused.  Then again, maybe I just want to go on a cruise…

“Oh my God!  Just like me!” Moments

I didn’t run track in high school but, if I had, I would hope that I would have had just as combative an attitude towards my competitors as Sky had towards her’s.

Also, like Sky, I spent a lot of my teenage years rolling my eyes at overprotective parental figures.

Lessons Learned

Never get out of the boat.

2017 in Review: The Best of Lifetime


Today, I continue my look back at the previous year with my picks for the best of Lifetime in 2017!  Below, you’ll find my nominations for the best Lifetime films and performances of 2017!  Winners are starred and listed in bold!

(As a guide, I used the credits for the imdb.  If anyone has been miscredited or let out, please feel free to let me know and I’ll fix the error both here and, if I can, on the imdb as well.)

Best Picture

Drink Slay Love, produced by Tina Pehme, Kim Roberts, Sheri Singer, Bella Thorne

From Straight A’s to XXX, produced by Austin Andrews, John Bolton, Anne-Marie Hess, Tina Pehme, Kim Roberts, Sheri Singer

Four Christmases and a Wedding

New York Prison Break: The Seduction of Joyce Mitchell, produced by Deen Dioria, David Manzanares, Ron Schmidt, Judith Verno, Frank von Zerneck.

The Rachels, produced by Paige Lauren Billot, Margaret H. Huddleston, Maggie McFarren, Hannah Pillemer, Rebecca G. Stone.

Running Away, produced by Dureyshevar, Jeff Faehnle, Jack Nasser, Jacob Nasser, Joseph Nasser, Bri Noble.

Sea Change. Produced by Sharon Bordas, Alec Chorches, Adam Fratto, Steven Gilder, David MacLeod, A.J. Mendez, Shawn Piller, Lloyd Segan, Stephanie Slack, Fernando Szew

Secrets in Suburbia, produced by Kristopher McNeeley, Jacobo Rispa, Damian Romay, Stephanie Slack, Fernando Szew.

The Watcher in the Woods, produced by Simon Barnes, Alexandra Bentley, Andrew Gernhard, Jennifer Handorf, Paula Hart.

* Web Cam Girls, produced by Tom Berry, Pierre David, Hank Grover, Sheri Reeves, Ken Sanders, Noel Zanitsch* 

Best Director

* Doug Campbell for Web Cam Girls

Michael Civille for The Rachels

Vanessa Parise for From Straight A’s to XXX

Damian Romay for Secrets in Suburbia

Brian Skiba for Running Away

Stephen Tolkin for New York Prison Break: The Seduction of Joyce Mitchell

Best Actor

James Franco in High School Lover

Zack Gold in Psycho Brother-in-Law

Stephen Graybill in Web Cam Girls

Timothy Granderos in The Twin

Ted McGinley in Fatherly Obsession

* Ryan Patrick Shanahan in Sinister Minister

Best Actress

Barbie Castro in Boyfriend Killer

Holly Deveaux in Running Away

Sedonna Legge in Web Cam Girls

* Penelope Ann Miller in New York Prison Break: The Seduction of Joyce Mitchell

Heather Morris in Psycho Wedding Crasher

Haley Pullos in From Straight A’s to XXX

Best Supporting Actor

Francois Arnaud in High School Lover

Joe Hackett in Web Cam Girls

William McNamara in Running Away

Patrick Muldoon in Boyfriend Killer

Judd Nelson in From Straight A’s to XXX

* Daniel Roebuck in New York Prison Break: The Seduction of Joyce Mitchell

Best Supporting Actress

Madison Iseman in The Rachels

Anjelica Huston in The Watcher in the Woods

* Tonya Kay in Web Cam Girls

Paula Trickey in Running Away

Ashley Wood in Wicked Mom’s Club

Lorynn York in Web Cam Girs

Best Screenplay

From Straight A’s to XXX. Anne-Marie Hess.

New York Prison Break: The Seduction of Joyce Mitchell. Stephen Tolkin.

The Rachels. Ellen Huggins.

* Running Away. Sheri McGuinn.

Secrets in Suburbia. Damian Romay.

Web Cam Girls. Stephen Romano.

Best Cinematography

Drink Slay Love. Vic Sarin.

Four Christmases and a Wedding. Mike Kam.

Off the Rails. Denis Maloney.

Running Away. Patrice Lucien Cochet.

* Sea Change. Jackson Parrell.

Ten: Murder Island. Richard Clabaugh.

Best Costuming

* Drink Slay Love. Liene Dobraja.

From Straight A’s to XXX. Liene Dobraja.

The Lost Wife of Robert Durst. Tina Fiorda.

New York Prison Break: The Seduction of Joyce Mitchell. Maria Bentfield.

The Rachels. Courtney Stern.

Stage Fright. Monique Hyman.

Best Editing

* From Straight A’s to XXX. Rob Grant.

Four Christmases and a Wedding. Paul Ziller.

New York Prison Break: The Seduction of Joyce Mitchell. Mark Stevens.

The Rachels. Brett Solem.

Sea Change. Matthew Anas.

Web Cam Girls. Jordan Jensen.

Best Makeup and Hairstyling

Drink Slay Love. Jessica Green, Catherine Long, Alysha McLoughlin, Sahar Sharelo.

The Lost Wife of Robert Durst. Lorna Bravo, Kelly Grange, Shelly Jensen, Mary Renvall, Melissa Sahlstrom.

* New York Prison Break: The Seduction of Joyce Mitchell. Claudia Breckenridge, Daniel Casillas, Nicole Gabaldon, Pepper J. Gallegos, Madeline McCue, L. Taylor Roberts

The Rachels. Taylor Bennett, Austin Cuccia.

Secrets in Suburbia. Andrea Ahl, Trevor Thompson

The Watcher in the Woods. Chloe Edwards.

Best Score

Drink Slay Love. Justin R. Durban

Fatherly Obsession. Aiko Fukushima.

Sea Change. Shawn Pierce.

* Story of a Girl. Travis Bacon.

Ten: Murder Island. Ceiri Torjussen.

The Watcher in the Woods. Felix Bird.

Best Production Design

New York Prison Break: The Seduction of Joyce Mitchell. Will Albarz, Anthony Medina.

Running Away.   Vincent Albo, Rose Beltran

Secrets in Suburbia. Brendan Turrill.

Ten: Murder Island. Eric Whitney, Caley Bisson.

Tiny House of Terror

* Web Cam Girls. Catch Henson, James W. Thompson Jr., Katherine Bulovic, Valerie Munguia

Best Sound

Britney Ever After

Drink Slay Love

From Straight A’s to XXX

Sea Change.

Under the Bed

* The Watcher in the Woods

Best Visual Effects

* Drink Slay Love

Fatherly Obsession

Sea Change

Stalker’s Prey

Ten: Murder Island

The Watcher in the Woods

And there you have it!  Those are my picks for the best of Lifetime in 2017!  Thank you for your indulgence!  On Friday, I’ll be concluding my look back at 2017 with my picks for the 26 best films of the year!

Previous entries in the TSL’s Look Back at 2017:

  1. 2017 in Review: Top Ten Single Issues by Ryan C
  2. 2017 in Review: Top Ten Series by Ryan C
  3. 2017 In Review: Top Ten Collected Edition (Contemporary) by Ryan C
  4. 2017 In Review: Top Ten Collected Editions (Vintage) by Ryan C
  5. 2017 in Review: Top Ten Graphic Novels By Ryan C
  6. 25 Best, Worst, and Gems I saw in 2017 by Valerie Troutman
  7. My Top 15 Albums of 2017 by Necromoonyeti
  8. 2017 In Review: Lisa Marie’s Picks For the 16 Worst Films of 2017
  9. 2017 In Review: Lisa Marie’s Final Post About Twin Peaks: The Return (for now)
  10. 2017 in Review: Lisa Marie’s 14 Favorite Songs of 2017
  11. 2017 in Review: The Best of SyFy by Lisa Marie Bowman
  12. 2017 in Review: 10 Good Things that Lisa Marie Saw On Television in 2017
  13. 2017 in Review: Lisa Marie’s 12 Favorite Novels of 2017
  14. 2017 in Review: Lia Marie’s 10 Favorite Non-Fiction Books of 2017

A Movie A Day #332: Surviving The Game (1994, directed by Ernest R. Dickerson)


Jack Mason (Ice-T) has been living on the streets of Seattle ever since the death of his wife and daughter.  When Cole (Charles S. Dutton), the friendly man at the soup kitchen, tells Mason that he can get him a job, the suicidal Mason accepts.  It turns out that a group of wealthy men are going on a hunting trip and they need a guide to lead them through the wilderness.  Mason accepts but, upon arriving, he discovers that the men (who are played by Rutger Hauer, F. Murray Abraham, William McNamara, John C. McGinley, and, of course, Gary Busey) are actually planning on playing the most dangerous game and hunting him for the weekend.

There are definitely better versions out there of Richard Connell’s famous short story.  One of the best, John Woo’s Hard Target, was released a year before Surviving the Game.  Both films share the idea of rich men hunting down the homeless for fun.  Surprisingly, it is Woo’s film that seems to take the idea, with all of its societal implications, more seriously.  Surviving the Game may present Jack Mason as being a suicidal homeless man but there is never any doubt that he is actually Ice-T, everyone’s favorite rapper and all-around badass.  But it’s precisely because Ice-T has such a recognizable persona that Surviving the Game is a guilty pleasure.  There is never any doubt that Ice-T can survive the game because Ice-T is the fucking game.  Matching Ice-T every step of the way is a rogue’s gallery of recognizable character actors, all of whom bring a different type of crazy to the proceedings.  When a movie delivers the spectacle of Ice-T being hunted by and then hunting Gary Busey and Rutger Hauer, it is easy to forgive whatever plot holes might be present in the script.

One final note: Surviving the Game was directed by Ernest R. Dickerson.  Dickerson got his start of Spike Lee’s cinematographer so it’s not surprising that Surviving the Game looks great.

 

What Lisa Watched Last Night #164: Running Away (dir by Brian Skiba)


After I watched Deadly Sorority, I watched the second Lifetime premiere of the night, Running Away!

Why Was I Watching It?

I nearly missed Running Away, which would have been a shame.  After being disappointed with Deadly Sorority, I was seriously tempted to go down to my neighbor’s 3-day Cinco de Mayo party.  But, somehow, my cinematic instincts knew that I should take the time to watch Running Away.  I’m glad that I did because Running Away is one of the best Lifetime films of the years so far.

What Was it About?

Peg (Paula Tricky) is a single mother, struggling to raise two rebellious daughters even as the bank attempts to take her home away from her.  However, salvation comes in the form of Richard (William McNamara).  Richard is never quite clear about what he does for a living but he’s rich.  He has a great (and big) house.  He drives a red sports car and has no problem about honking the horn at people crossing the street and shouting, “Yeah, you better be watching!”  He’s more than a little creepy but he appears to worship the ground that Peg walks on.  Add to that, when he asks her to marry him, he gives her a really nice ring.

After the wedding, Peg’s two daughters have differing reactions to Richard.  The youngest, Lizzie (Madison Lee Brown), loves their new home and decides that Richard isn’t as bad or as creepy as he originally seemed.  Maggie (Holly Deveaux) knows that Richard is a creepy perv, the type who walks in on her when she’s in the shower and who, when he discovers that she’s been drinking beer, uses the knowledge for sexual blackmail.  Being molested and abused by her stepfather, Maggie resorts first to self-harm and then to running away.

Maggie finds herself living with a drug dealer and his traumatized girlfriend.  Both Richard and Peg are searching for her but both have different plans for what to do when they find her.

What Worked?

I know that the plot probably sounds extremely melodramatic and, in a way, I guess it was.  But, that’s okay.  This is a film that used melodrama to make a very real and important point about the consequences of abuse.  This a very well-done and very heartfelt film.

It took me a while to recognize William McNamara, who gives an all-too realistic performance as the monstrous Richard.  When we first meet Richard, the film wisely plays up his dorkiness.  We know he’s a bad guy but we’re still shocked by just how bad and dangerous he ultimately turns out to be.  Paula Trickey also does a good as Peg, portraying her with a combination of regret, disillusionment, and, as the same time, a cautious hope for the future.  However, the film really belongs to Holly Deveaux, who gives an empathetic and compelling performance of Maggie, one that reveals both her pain and her inner strength.

What Did Not Work?

I have to admit that, towards the end of the film, I kind of rolled my eyes when one final secret about Richard was revealed.  At that point, he was already such a bad guy that revealing the reason why he was so rich felt like overkill.  Other than that, though, I would say that the entire films worked.

“Oh my God!  Just like me!” Moments

As someone who was an angry, rebellious, and often self-destructive teenager, I related to Maggie.  Holly Deveaux’s performance captured all of the emotions.  Though the whole movie, I was cringing as I had flashbacks to all the times that I was tempted to get on a bus and go wherever it took me.

(Seriously, for about a year and a half, I had this ludicrously romanticized fantasy about getting on a bus, traveling to random towns, and spending a year filling up my notebooks with my thoughts on America.  After I talked about it one too many times, my sister Megan drove me down to the Greyhound station in downtown Dallas and we spent an hour watching people get on and off buses.  The sights and the smells — well, mostly the smells — of actual bus living pretty much ended that fantasy.)

Lessons Learned

You can’t run away from your problems but you can beat them over the head with a baseball bat.

Lisa Cleans Out Her DVR: The Wrong Student (dir by David DeCoteau)


Y’all know that I usually avoid politics like the plague but this is just something that needs to be said:

The U.S. Government could stand to learn a little from a good Lifetime film.  A good Lifetime movie is not expensive (and usually can be viewed for free).  A good Lifetime movie does not demand that the audience watch it but instead, provides a good reason for you to sacrifice 90 minutes of your time.  A good Lifetime movie does not attempt to rob you of your individual freedoms and, in fact, it celebrates your right to talk back to the screen.  A good Lifetime movie delivers exactly what it promises.  A good Lifetime movie does not talk down to its audience.  A good Lifetime movie goes out of its way to keep its audience entertained.  If the U.S. government was more like a Lifetime movie, we wouldn’t have spent the past 17 years dealing with one tedious situation after another.  If the U.S. government was more like a Lifetime movie, life would be a lot more fun and twitter far less annoying.

I found myself thinking about this as I continued to clean out my DVR by watching The Wrong Student.  I recorded The Wrong Student off of Lifetime on March 11th.  I’m glad I did because The Wrong Student epitomizes everything that I love about Lifetime.

Add to that, it’s a film that proves something that I’ve always suspected — soccer is the source of all evil.

Maddie (Evanne Friedmann) is a teenager who loves two things: soccer and the new soccer coach.  The new coach is Dominic (Jason-Shane Scott), who has amazing pecs and abs.  How in love with Dominic is Maddie?  Well, she’s so in love with him that she’s willing to do almost anything to keep him around.  Does that mean that Maddie is willing to poison the old soccer coach?  It sure does.  Does that mean that Maddie is willing to fake an injury so she’ll have an excuse to get naked in the locker room while a mortified Dominic hides his eyes?  Of course!  What about pretending to get drunk at a party and then begging Dominic to give her a ride home?  Hey, who hasn’t done that?  In fact, Maddie is so obsessed with Dominic that she’s even willing to murder her ex-boyfriend.

Maddie’s pretty, intelligent, and apparently her family has some money but she sure does have some issues.  Personally, I blame the soccer.

Amber (Kennedy Tucker) is also on the soccer team.  Amber is living with her Aunt Kelly (Jessica Morris).  Obviously, Amber knows that Dominic is too old for her but he’s exactly the right age for Kelly!  When Maddie realizes that Kelly and the coach are getting close, can you guess what happens?

Anyway, The Wrong Student is a lot of fun.  David DeCoteau has directed a lot of “wrong” films for Lifetime, including The Wrong Roommate and The Wrong Child.  He knows exactly how to make one of these films entertaining and The Wrong Student is an enjoyably self-aware melodrama.  Evanne Friedmann is wonderfully unhinged as crazy Maddie and Jason-Shane Scott looks great without a shirt on.  The Wrong Child is a wonderfully entertaining example of just how much fun a Lifetime movie can be.

Everything should be more like a Lifetime movie.

A Movie A Day #13: Ringmaster (1998, directed by Neil Abramson)


ringmaster-posterJerry Springer has been many things over the course of his long life.  Lawyer.  Anti-war activist.  Adviser to Bobby Kennedy.  Congressional candidate.  City councilman.  Brothel aficionado.  Mayor.  Journalist.  Commentator.  Talk show host.  Destroyer of culture.  Scourge of humanity.  Twice, he was a highly recruited candidate for the U.S. Senate but, both times, it was decided that there was no way a morally questionable television personality could actually win high political office in the United States.

(Yeah, about that…)

There is one thing that Jerry Springer has never been and that is a movie star.  However, that’s not for lack of trying.  At the height of his talk show’s popularity, Jerry Springer starred in Ringmaster.  Though he played a character named Jerry Farrelly and his show was retitled The Jerry Show, there was never any doubt that Jerry Springer was meant to be playing himself.

Who is Jerry Springer, according to Ringmaster?  He’s a sad and weary man who sleeps with his guests and worries that his raunchy show will be his only legacy.  After one show, he tells his staff that he will never again be elected to political office.  His staff laughs but Jerry didn’t sound like he was making a joke.  Why does Jerry do it?  Because he cares about America!  When a man in his audience starts yelling that Jerry and his guests are all going to Hell, Jerry gets in his face and let him know that his show is providing a voice for the people who live in the real America.

In Ringmaster, the real America is made up of people like trailer park nymphomaniac Angel Zorzak (Jaime Pressly) and her mother, Connie (Molly Hagan).  Angel and Connie appear on The Jerry Show after Angel sleeps with her stepfather (Michael Dudikoff, the American Ninja himself) and Connie gets revenge by sleeping with Angel’s boyfriend.  Also on the show is Demond (Michael Jai White), who cheated on his girlfriend with her two best friends and, the night before the show, cheats with Angel too.  Thanks to the show, Demond gets his comeuppance and Angel and Connie’s relationship is repaired.  The movie ends with mother and daughter back in the trailer park, talking about how their new neighbor has big feet.

Pressly and Hagan are the best thing about Ringmaster.  The worst thing is undoubtedly Jerry Springer.  For someone who has made a career in both politics and television, Jerry Springer turns out to be a terrible actor.  He sleepwalks through the movie with a please-kill-me look on his face, keeping his head down and muttering the majority of his lines.

According to Wikipedia, Ringmaster had a budget of $20,000,000 and grossed back less than half of that.  Why would people pay money to watch what they could see on TV for free?  Jerry Springer never became a senator or a movie star.  He continues to host his talk show and probably will until the end of time.

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!

mother-mural-lmn-620x325

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
*Flashback
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

Film Review: The Wrong Roommate (dir by David DeCoteau)


The Wrong Roommate

It’s always interesting to me when my favorite exploitation and grindhouse filmmakers end up making a movie for Lifetime.  It happens a lot more that you might expect and it’s always undeniably fun to see how they adapt their own sensibilities to the requirements of the network.  For instance, last year, Fred Olen Ray gave Lifetime both River Raft Nightmare and The Christmas Gift.

And then, in January of this year, David DeCoteau gave us The Wrong Roommate.  As far as Lifetime films are concerned, The Wrong Roommate is pure perfection.  It gives the viewer everything that she could possibly want from a Lifetime film.  There’s melodrama.  There’s romance.  There’s an untrustworthy ex-fiance.  There’s a mysterious artist who is both hot and dangerous and who has got like the most incredible abs.  There’s a big fancy house and lots of pretty clothes and there’s even a sex-positive best friend who is eager to help her BFF rebuild her life.  I enjoyed The Wrong Roommate when I first watched it and I enjoyed it when I rewatched it earlier today.  But as I watched The Wrong Roommate, I wondered how members of the typical Lifetime viewing audience would have reacted to seeing some of DeCoteau’s other 122 films, like Sorority Babes in the Slimeball Bowl-O-Rama or Bigfoot vs. D.B. Cooper.  

It’s DeCoteau’s background in B-movies that made him the perfect director for The Wrong Roommate.  Like many filmmakers, DeCoteau began his career working with Roger Corman and then later worked with Charles Band.  These are filmmakers who understood how to tell a story.  Above all else, Roger Corman and his best students all understood the importance of storytelling.  They understood the importance of keeping the audience entertained.

And, whatever else one may say about it, The Wrong Roommate is a terrifically entertaining film.

The film opens with a man getting run over by a car.  That man is Prof. Floyd and he’s played by Eric Roberts.  From the minute that I saw that Eric Roberts was going to be in The Wrong Roommate, I assumed that he would be playing another one of his trademark crazy stalker roles but instead, Roberts is one of the good guys here.  He’s actually playing a sympathetic character.  It’s clever casting because, even once it starts to become clear that he’s not going to kill anyone, you’re still uncertain about him because he’s played by Eric Roberts.  Eric Roberts as a good guy keeps the audience off-balance and tells them not to take anything for granted.

That said, Roberts only has a supporting role here.  The film is about Laurie Valentine (Jessica Morris).  Laurie has just broken up with her controlling jerk of a fiancee, Mark (William McNamara).  And now, she’s rebuilding her life.  Her best friend (Dominique Swain) has gotten her a job teaching at the local college.  And her older sister has invited Laurie to spend the summer at her mansion.  The only catch is that Laurie has to look after her rebellious 17 year-old niece, Ricki (Brianna Joy Chomer).

After moving in, Laurie discovers that there’s someone else living on the estate.  Alan (Jason-Shane Scott) is staying in the guest house.  Ricki has a huge crush on him and soon, so does Laurie.  And why not?  Alan has amazing abs, spends all of his time shirtless, and he’s an artist!  He specializes in wood work and there’s nothing sexier than a man who is good with his hands and his wood…

But, wait a minute!

If Alan’s so great, why does he stage a break-in at the house?

Why doesn’t he ever seem to be surprised when Mark drops by the mansion?

And, of course, we have to consider the fact that Alan has installed a secret webcam in Laurie’s bedroom so that he can watch her undress on his laptop.

Hmmmm…something might not be quite right….

You’ll probably be able to guess what’s going on within the first 30 minutes of the film but who cares?  This is a fun movie and David DeCoteau’s direction strikes a perfect balance between melodrama and parody.  The film looks great, the cast looks great, and I was jealous of that big house.  The Wrong Roommate is wonderful entertainment, in the best tradition of Corman, Band, and DeCoteau.