Postmortem (1998 DTV)

Single-malt embalming fluid?

US / 101 minutes / color / Imperial Entertainment, Filmwerks Dir: Albert Pyun Pr: Gary Schmoeller, Tom Karnowski Scr: John Lowry Lamb, Robert McDonnell Cine: George Mooradian Cast: Charles Sheen, Michael Halsey, Ivana Mílíčevíć, Stephen McCole, Gary Lewis, Dave Anderson, Leigh Biagi, Phil McCall, John Yule, Ian Hanmore, Ian Cairns, David Walker, Zuleika Shaw, Hazel Ann Crawford, Pauline Carville, Rab Affleck, Suzanne Carlsson, Lisa Earl, Carol Findlay, Erin Mooney, Alan Orr, Jenny Hughes.

This is not, let’s say it at the outset, a good movie. It’s a movie in which the lead actor, despite having built up an international reputation for spending much of his time falling over while under the influence, fails to convincingly portray falling over while under the influence. He portrays sobriety even less convincingly, which I suppose says . . . something.

Charles Sheen as James MacGregor.

James MacGregor (Sheen), after a stellar career of tracking down serial killers, has dropped out of the San Francisco PD because of acute depression and general burnout, and has written a bestselling true-crime book, Mind Crash, about an especially vile serial killer of children, Albert Smith. Now MacGregor is living in a cottage on the outskirts of Glasgow, Scotland, hoping to find himself at the bottom of a Continue reading

The Night Strangler (1973 TVM)

“Around the necks of both victims there was a residue of rotted flesh as if they’d been strangled by . . . a dead man!”

US / originally aired cut to 74 minutes; later releases have full 90 minutes / color / ABC Circle Dir & Pr: Dan Curtis Scr: Richard Matheson Cine: Robert Hauser Cast: Darren McGavin, Jo Ann Pflug, Simon Oakland, Scott Brady, Wally Cox, Richard Anderson, Margaret Hamilton, John Carradine, Nina Wayne, Al Lewis, Virginia Peters, Ivor Francis, Kate Murtagh, Diane Shalet, Anne Randall, Francoise Birnheim, Regina Parton.

“This is the story behind the most incredible series of murders to ever occur in the city of Seattle, Washington . . .”

It all begins with a belly dancer. A belly dancer who calls herself Merissa (Parton) when she gyrates on the stage of Seattle niterie Omar’s Tent but whose given name is Ethel Parker.

Regina Parton as Merissa.

But such niceties don’t matter to her any longer because she’s dead—dead in a Seattle back alley, her throat crushed by Continue reading

Burden of Evil (2012 TVM)

How can a cop cope with the serial killer who murdered her husband?

Canada / 90 minutes / color / Incendo, Dir: Michel Monty Pr: Jean Bureau, Serge Denis, Josée Mauffette Scr: Tom Gates Cine: Daniel Villeneuve Cast: Natalie Zea, Ron Lea, Ricky Mabe, Graham Cuthbertson, Michael Ironside, Vincent Hoss-Desmarais, Alexandra Valassis, Andrew Johnston, Chad Connell, Éleonore Lamothe, Ellen David, Jennifer Morehouse, Mark Hauser, Tarah Schwartz, Alex Weiner, Bobby Lamont.


Natalie Zea as Detective Caitlyn “Kate” Conner.

A couple of years ago, Detective Caitlyn “Kate” Conner (Zea) managed to identify the serial killer Kyle Randall (Mabe), whose m.o. was to kill—to “butcher”—men who’d abandoned their families; unfortunately, she was never able to nail him.

Today her husband Jamie (Connell), also a cop, is lured by Randall into a deserted warehouse, where Randall shoots him the back, killing him, then seemingly allows himself to be caught.


From a position aloft, Kyle (Ricky Mabe) . . . Continue reading

Taste of Evil, A (1971 TVM)

Was someone trying to drive her . . . insane?

US / 71 minutes / color / Aaron Spelling, ABC Dir: John Llewellyn Moxey Pr: Aaron Spelling Scr: Jimmy Sangster Cine: Arch Dalzell Cast: Barbara Stanwyck, Barbara Parkins, Roddy McDowall, William Windom, Arthur O’Connell, Bing Russell, Dawn Frame.

Taste of Evil - 0 opener

“Once upon a time there was a family who lived in a big house all by itself in the middle of great big woods. There was Mommy. She was very beautiful. Everyone loved her—especially Uncle Harold. He wasn’t my real uncle—just make-believe. Mommy made people laugh, because she was so happy herself. Then there was Daddy. He was very handsome and very kind. Everybody was mad about him. And last of all, because she was the youngest, there was Susan. She had no brothers or sisters, so she was on her own a lot. But she didn’t mind it, because she had her own special house in the woods that her daddy had built for her when she was a very little girl . . .”

Continue reading

Pretty Poison (1996 TVM)

Canada, US / 89 minutes / color / National, TCF Dir: David Burton Morris Pr: Iain Paterson Scr: Brian Ross Story: She Let Him Continue (1966) by Stephen Geller and screenplay by Lorenzo Semple Jr. for Pretty Poison (1968) Cine: Francis Kenny Cast: Grant Show, Wendy Benson, Lynne Thigpen, Michelle Phillips, Steve Adams, Dorothee Berryman, Walter Bolton, Doug Lennox, James Rae, Frank Schorpion, Ted Whithall (i.e., Ted Whittall).

Pretty Poison 1996 TVM - 2 Sue Ann decides to fall in with Dennis's plans

Wendy Benson as Sue Ann.

Anne Billson was recently talking on her MULTIGLOM blog about the original version of this movie, PRETTY POISON (1968) dir Noel Black, with Anthony Perkins, Tuesday Weld and Beverly Garland, and I was reminded that I had a copy of the 1996 TVM remake somewhere but had never actually watched it. To my astonishment, I found it almost immediately—see, I am Mr. Organization after all—and decided to remedy my ignorance.

Years ago, after a savage beating from his father, Dennis Pitt (Show) started a housefire that incinerated his parents; he insists that, while the arson was deliberate, the incineration was accidental in that he thought they were out. (This info is revealed late in the movie; however, since we know from the outset he committed some pretty heinous crime, the details are a mere confirmation.)

Pretty Poison 1996 TVM - 1 Janet Azenauer has high hopes of Dennis

 Janet Azenauer (Lynne Thigpen) has high hopes for Dennis.

Now he’s being released from the Kenneth M. Gordon Correctional Facility for the Criminally Disturbed, somewhere in Massachusetts, and his parole officer, Jane Azenauer (Thigpen), couldn’t be more delighted. In a plot point that’s Continue reading

Red Wind (1995 TVM)

A fine, and often overlooked, Philip Marlowe incarnation

US / 60 minutes / color with bw credits / Mirage, Propaganda, Showtime Dir: Agnieszka Holland Pr: Stuart Cornfeld, William Horberg Scr: Alan Trustman Story: “Red Wind” (1938 Dime Detective) by Raymond Chandler Cine: Robert Brinkmann Cast: Danny Glover, Kelly Lynch, Dan Hedaya, Ron Rifkin, Miguel Sandoval, Nick Sadler, Ralph Ahn, Bennet Guillory, Tyrin Turner, Valeria Golino.

Red Wind 1995 - 0 opener

This was the final episode of the HBO/Showtime series Fallen Angels (retitled Perfect Crimes when shown in the UK), created by William Horberg, which ran for two seasons, in 1993 (six episodes) and 1995 (nine episodes). The stories were based on works by classic or, in a couple of cases, modern masters of the hardboiled. Most of the episodes were about a half-hour long; this series envoi runs for double that.

The Santa Ana—the Red Wind—is covering everything and everyone in Southern California with dust, not least PI Philip Marlowe (Glover). Seeking relief in a beer in a near-deserted bar across the street from the hotel where he lives, he has his evening ruined when the drunk at the end of the bar, Al (Sadler), suddenly stands up and puts a bullet through the head of a guy called Waldo Ratigan (Guillory), who has just stormed in looking for a blonde in a bolero jacket.

Red Wind 1995 - 1 Lew Petrolle welcomes Marlowe to his bar

Lew Petrolle (Tyrin Turner) welcomes Marlowe to his bar.

The bar owner, Lew Petrolle (Turner), calls the cops, who arrive in the form of the savage, corrupt, bigoted Detective-Lieutenant Sam Copernik (Hedaya) and his good-cop counterpart Detective Ybarra (Sandoval). Copernik’s a bull whom it’s easy to dislike; not only does he rob Waldo’s corpse of all the money and valuables he can find on it, he has strong opinions, as he tells Ybarra: “What is this town coming to? A spic cop and a nig private detective.”

Red Wind 1995 - 2 Copernik examines Marlowe's credentials

Copernik (Dan Hedaya) examines Marlowe’s credentials.

Having told the cops all he knows, Marlowe is on the way back to his hotel room when he runs into the blonde with the bolero jacket, Lola Barsaly (Lynch). He advises her to keep out of things, and she takes refuge in his room. She’s there when Continue reading

Midnight’s Child (1992 TVM)

Kate’s not wanted any more,
Gonna throw her out the door.

US / 89 minutes / color with some bw / Victoria Principal, Jeff Myrow–David Gottlieb, Polone, Hearst Dir: Colin Bucksey Pr: Kimberly Myers Scr: David Chaskin Story: Jeff Myrow, David N. Gottlieb, David Chaskin Cine: Anthony B. Richmond Cast: Marcy Walker, Cotter Smith, Olivia d’Abo, Elissabeth Moss, Jim Norton, Judy Parfitt, Roxann Biggs (i.e., Roxann Dawson), Mary Larkin, Jeff Nowinski, Pierrette Grace, Nicole Prochnik, Jake Jacobs, Matt Corey, Stephanie Shroyer, Beth Bjork.

Midnight's Child - 0 opener

For most of its running time this rather neat made-for-television movie presents itself as a psychological thriller, an interesting riff on the likes of The HAND THAT ROCKS THE CRADLE (1992), but in the later stages it fairly abruptly morphs into something quite different.

It’s the end of term at the Roman Catholic St. Helena Akademy in Stockholm, and young Anna Bergman (Grace) has fixed up a job as an au pair in distant California. On her final night at the school she gets a note from her room-mate, Kirsten Grossbaum (d’Abo), asking to meet in the science lab for a surprise. The surprise is that Kirsten beats her over the head with a pestle, then organizes a gas explosion so that Anna is burnt to unrecognizability. Using Anna’s passport and a knack for disguise, Kirsten then flies out to take Anna’s place as au pair to high-powered executive Kate Cowan (Walker) and her struggling-professional-illustrator husband Nick (Smith), looking after their nearly-eight-year-old daughter Christina “Chrissy” (Moss).

Midnight's Child - 1 The real Anna Bergman (Pierrette Grace)

 The real Anna Bergman (Pierrette Grace).

Midnight's Child - 2 Kirsten looks back at the mayhem she's caused

Kirsten (Olivia d’Abo) looks back at the mayhem she’s caused.

“Anna” has a fearsome first day, the breaking of the washing machine being the highlight. Kate manages, however, to Continue reading

Hei$t, The (1989 TVM)


Pierce Brosnan stars in a highly entertaining caper!

vt The Heist
US / 97 minutes / color / Chris/Rose, HBO Dir: Stuart Orme Pr: Rick Rosenberg, Bob Christiansen Scr: William Irish Jr, David Fuller, Rick Natkin Story: William Irish Jr Cine: George Tirl Cast: Pierce Brosnan, Tom Skerritt, Wendy Hughes, Noble Willingham, Tom Atkins, Robert Prosky, Stephen Apostolina, Ben Mittleman, Nino Surdo, Shelton Redden, Roger Hewlett, Joseph Carberry, Fats Williams, Art Frankel, Andrew Barnicle, Fred Bailey, Luisa Vargas.

The Heist 1989 - 0 opener

Four years ago, security-firm boss Neil Skinner (Brosnan) was caught reentering the US from Mexico with a small fortune in stolen emeralds that he didn’t know he had. Now he has served his time and is determined to return to San Diego to reclaim his security company and the girl he left behind from the business partner who set him up, Ebbet Berens (Skerritt).

With the unwitting aid of the limo driver, Fred (Bailey, in a wryly amusing cameo role), who picked him up at the airport in the innocent belief he was business exec Mark Draper (Barnicle), Neil discovers that his company has been stolen from him by Berens—what used to be SB Security is now just B Security—and likewise his hot girl, Sheila Atkins (Hughes), now installed in Neil’s place as Continue reading

Borderline (2002 TVM)

Germany, US, South Africa / 90 minutes / color / ApolloMedia Filmproduktion, MPCA, MPCE. Dir: Evelyn Maude Purcell Pr: Adam Richman, David Lancaster, Brad Krevoy, Frank Hübner Scr: David Loucka Cine: Michael Brierley Cast: Gina Gershon, Michael Biehn, Sean Patrick Flanery, Rae Allen, Eddie Driscoll, Jon Huertas, Natasha Napoli, Daniela Napoli, Nick Boraine, Caitlin Frewen, Jennifer Steyn, Carolyn Balogh, Debbie Brown, Christopher Johnston, Millard Arnold, Louise Barnes, Danny Keogh, Angela Nemov, Andrew Brent.

Borderline 2002 - 0 opener

Ex-alcoholic criminal psychiatrist Lila “Dr. C” Coletti (Gershon) is being divorced by wealthy husband Paul (Boraine), now living with his girlfriend Jenny Kemp (Balogh); the only remaining issue is who gets custody of the children: Rebecca (Natasha Napoli) and her kid sister Sarah (Daniela Napoli). In court, the fact that Lila keeps irregular hours at the prison where she works, often being called late at night to deal with emergencies, is held against her, as is the fact that she hired one of her ex-patients, Ciro Ruiz (Huertas), to help do up the house she moved to with the kids after separating from Paul.

Borderline 2002 - 1 Paul comes to fetch the kids

A gloating Paul (Nick Boraine) comes to fetch the kids.

To her horror, Judge Thornquist (Brent) rules in favor of Paul, who promptly turns up at Lila’s home and takes the kids away. Lila straightway goes out to a local boozeteria, where Ciro spots her, joins her, sympathizes offer the loss of the kids, and tells her he knows what he would do if he were in her place. Lila, having a lapse from abstinence and having also popped a few tranks from prison supplies, tells him not to be so foolish and gets home somehow.

Borderline 2002 - 2 In the bar Ciro tells Lila how he'd react

In the bar Ciro (Jon Huertas) tells Lila how he’d react to the “theft” of the kids.

Borderline 2002 - 3 Lila, momentarily slipped off wagon, heeds Ciro

Lila (Gina Gershon), having had a few, listens intently.

That night someone breaks into Paul’s house and, after ushering the kids into a back room, murders Paul and then rapes and murders Jenny.

The crime is investigated by Detectives Macy Kobacek (Biehn) and Frank Hagen (Driscoll). As we soon discover, Continue reading

Shattered (2008 TVM)

US / 91 minutes / color with momentary bw / Somerville, Gravitas Dir & Pr & Scr: Chris St. Croix Cine: Matthew Dyer, Lou Chanatry, David Trenkle Cast: Lynnette Cole, Jennifer Spriggs, Amanda Bailey, Jennifer Kennard, Ryan C. King, Chris Cavolo, Spencer Moore, Brooke Sage, Eva Ramer, Tremesia Coleman, Savannah Meech, Danny Newborn, Ruth Davis.

Shattered 2008 - 0 opener

Four young women—Heather Jackson (Kennard), Regina (Cole), Claire (Spriggs) and Nikki (Bailey)—have been best buds since childhood, when they were dubbed The Wild Bunch: we see them briefly as children, played respectively by Ramer, Coleman, Meech and Sage. The four decide to pool their resources and buy a rundown bar in a rundown area of town. In a major breach with tradition in movies with setups like this, this is not a cue for them to take their clothes off at regular intervals; in fact, those seeking nudity should seek elsewhere, because there isn’t any.

Shattered 2008 - 4 Claire

Claire (Jennifer Spriggs).

There’s a bout of simulated sex, though. Heather, always the wildest of The Wild Bunch, is highly promiscuous: “I’m a guy with Continue reading