The Spiral Staircase (2000 TVM)

Not so much a remake, more a sorry porridge!

Canada, US / 88 minutes / color / Shavick, Saban International Dir: James Head Pr: Shawn Williamson Scr: Matt Dorff Story: Some Must Watch (1933) by Ethel Lina White and (uncredited) The Circular Staircase (1908) by Mary Roberts Rinehart, plus screenplay by Mel Dinelli, Helen Hayes and Robert Siodmak for The SPIRAL STAIRCASE (1945) Cine: Gordon Verheul Cast: Nicollette Sheridan, Judd Nelson, Alex McArthur, Debbe Dunning, Christina Jastrzembska, Dolores Drake, David Storch, William McDonald, Holland Taylor, John Innes, Brenda Campbell, Candice McClure (i.e., Kandyse McClure), Dallas Thompson, Charles Payne, Kristina Matisic.


Although this movie claims in its opening credits to be a remake of Robert Siodmak’s classic period noir The SPIRAL STAIRCASE (1945), just about everything that distinguished the original movie from a run-of-the-mill murder mystery has been excised.


Despite all the plot-changes, this remake is ready to offer the occasional visual quote from Siodmak’s original.

Perhaps most importantly, the killer’s motivation has been altered. In the original, the killer has a psychotic detestation of disabilities in women; this puts our heroine, who’s a traumatic mute, in severe danger of being his next victim. Here the motive’s just the humdrum one of financial gain—there’s an inheritance up for grabs—and, when this motive is suddenly produced in the final minutes, it makes no sense, because we’ve been told the killer has been murdering and assaulting pretty young women at random for some while. Furthermore, the muteness of the central character has no real impact on the plot—in fact (and this is actually quite cleverly done), we’re a good few minutes into the movie before we realize she’s mute at all.


Helen (Nicollette Sheridan) hears a strange noise outside her bedroom.

Here’s the plot in short:

There’s a prologue in which a young girl (not properly identified in the credits) is walking home at night in Westport, Washington State, when she encounters Continue reading

In Cold Blood (1996 TVM)

US, Canada / 180 minutes / color with some bw / Pacific Motion, CBS Dir: Jonathan Kaplan Pr: Tom Rowe Scr: Benedict Fitzgerald Story: In Cold Blood (1966 “nonfiction novel”) by Truman Capote Cine: Peter Woeste Cast: Anthony Edwards, Eric Roberts, Sam Neill, Leo Rossi, Louise Latham, Gwen Verdon, Bethel Leslie, L.Q. Jones, Gillian Barber, Kevin Tighe, Don Davis, Margot Finley, Troy Evans, Robbie Bowen, Brad Greenquist, Tom McBeath, Stella Stevens, Ryan Reynolds, Lindsey Campbell, Emily Perkins, Campbell Lane.

In Cold Blood (1996) - 1 Perry watches with revulsion as Dick accosts a teenagerPerry (Roberts), repelled by yet another example of Dick’s predatory sexuality.

A remake of In Cold Blood (1967) that obviously tells much the same story—occasionally with snatches of the same dialogue—although with many differences in the details and in various matters of emphasis. Although, as in the earlier movie, the murders are shown in flashback toward the end of the movie, this flashback is proportionally very much shorter, while the aftermath of the killers’ capture is likewise given far less weight.

In Cold Blood (1996) - 2 Nancy chats with farmhand AlbertNancy Clutter (Margot Finley) chats with hired hand Alfred Stoecklein (Tom McBeath) on the eve of the murder.

Here we learn far more about the lives of the Clutters; by the halfway mark of what was first aired as a miniseries but what’s in essence a single very long movie, Perry Smith (Roberts) and Dick Hickock (Edwards) have not long invaded the farmhouse. The dynamics within Continue reading