Friday's trip to Hasting's offered up several interesting titles, and I quickly picked three that looked like fun. Seldom have I seen three movies jump from just plain awful to pretty darned good to downright excellent in such perfect order as these three titles did - and I watched them in the right order, too!
First of all, there was the painfully bad LIZZIE.
Any time that you see Corbin Bernsen AND Gary Busey in the same film, you can always bet that it's going to be a bad movie. Especially when it also contains a cameo by a porn starlet! (Aurora Snow). The sad part about this movie is that with just a little reworking, it could have been GOOD. The setup was excellent for the first 20 minutes or so, but then after 40 minutes of setup you're wondering: When do the fireworks start? After an hour of setup and foreshadowing, you start to yawn, and when the punch comes in the movie's final ten minutes, it's simply too late and you wonder why on earth you wasted an hour and a half of your life on this dreck. Synopsis? OK, if you insist: Lizzie Allen is troubled by nightmares and poor sleep habits, compounded by her insistence on mixing her sleeping pills with wine. She has recently moved into her childhood home, but she has blocked the memories of what happened there. Now she is seeing things, experiencing fugue states, and generally making life miserable for her rather unlikable boyfriend Jason. Then when her new neighbor Maggie shows up, the pace of events begins to accelerate, and it is painfully clear that there are evil forces at work in this house - which incidentally stands near the onetime home of famed axe murderess Lizzie Borden. All in all, this movie doesn't make much sense, although the flashback scene of the Lizzie Borden murders is entertaining - especially hearing a drunk Gary Busey (is there any other kind?) tell his chambermaid after he rapes her: "There! I squirted you! Now you have my baby inside you!" But not even Corbin Bernsen as a psychiatrist and Gary Busey as Lizzie Borden's Dad can redeem this painfully bad film.
One of my daughters was so bored by this film she went to bed, but her sister decided to stick it out and watch the next one with me, a compelling European horror film called DARK TOUCH.
What does evil look like? An interesting question this movie poses, and then proceeds to answer. Eleven year old Neve is the sole survivor of a horrific attack that left her entire family dead. Police suspect a gang of drug-crazed bandits, but no strangers have been seen in the quiet Irish town. Neighbors Natalie and Lucas take Neve in, and social worker Tanya Collins tries to build a relationship with her, but the girl remains aloof and - for lack of a better word - creepy. Then strange stuff starts to happen, and we are not clear at first whether Neve is manifesting telekinetic power or is simply losing touch with reality. But by the end of the movie it is apparent that this innocent child has been warped into something truly evil by her ordeal, and that all who befriend her place themselves in grave danger. This movie is very well done, and I have never seen a child character so menacing and so pitiful at the same time. I highly recommend this one!
After two movies on Friday night, we took a break on Saturday evening. But tonight we put in the last film I had rented, a magnificently creepy ghost story called HAUNTER. Abigail Breslin plays Lisa, a lovely young 15 year old in the year 1984. She is trapped on the day before her birthday, in a nightmare scenario where she lives out the same day with her family over and over and over again - it's like GROUND HOG DAY from hell, with no ability to change the routine or to break out of it. But finally she hears voices calling from the dark corners of the house, and she realizes that what has happened to her and her family has happened before . . . and will happen again. The Pale Man's lust for blood did not end with his death, and it will not end with Lisa's.
This movie is a tour de force of creepiness. It builds slowly but relentlessly to a satisfying crescendo, and the slowly unraveling mystery is truly terrifying at times. I cannot recommend HAUNTER highly enough!