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Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Not on Lifetime: "Intimate Agony"

Before the Lifetime network scared kids out of sex with movies like "She's Too Young," network television was keeping grown-ups out of bed with gems like 1983's "Intimate Agony." Both movies deal with the dangers of sexually transmitted diseases, but "Intimate Agony" is definitely a more memorable film considering its all-star cast.

This movie originally aired on ABC (when networks aired plenty of cool made-for-TV flicks) and featured Anthony Geary (a big star at the time thanks to "General Hospital) as Dr. Kyle Richards. He arrives to a community in the Hamptons and makes a shocking discovery ... nearly everyone has herpes!! His playboy buddy Tommy (Mark Harmon in an awesome role) has no doubt been spreading them to his tennis pupils. Married businessman Nick (Brian Kerwin) also has them ... and he's married to a very pregnant wife. Real estate mogul Dave Fairmont (Robert Vaughn perhaps creating a blueprint for Donald Trump) discovers his teen daughter is infected. And Dr. Richards' possible love interest Marsha (the always amazing Judith Light) finds out that her last lover has given her this STD.

Richards wants to create an awareness campaign, but money hungry Fairmont thinks that a herpes scare will impact his real estate deals! The kindly doctor also wants to counsel those who have been infected, but that's easier said than done. Once diagnosed with the disease, everyone feels like the walking dead. Still, Dr. Richards knows that education is the key to preventing and coping with the disease.

Honestly, I never saw myself spending an afternoon watching a movie about herpes, but "Intimate Agony" is pretty good! Yes, it's a bit on the soap opera-side considering its sudsy leads (Geary, Light, Harmon), but it's well made with compelling stories that are linked together. And it's never too preachy ... letting Geary's good guy doctor lead the discussion on the consequences of venereal diseases.

I remembered when this movie popped up on TV back in the early 80s ... with a stern "Parental discretion is advised" warning. This was just before AIDS/HIV was in the headlines, so the thought of a herpes story may seem outdated. Still, the material is handled with a mix of sensitivity and melodrama. As the headlines suggests, this is not on Lifetime (but could be). It's actually on YouTube! See below for a link to the full feature. The quality isn't exactly HD, but check it out anyways. It definitely holds up thanks to solid acting from the star players.

Sunday, July 24, 2016

REVIEW: 'Indiscretion'

Sex and politics don't mix. It's pretty certain that anyone connected with public office needs to keep it in their pants. Last night's Lifetime premiere of "Indiscretion" is proof of that!

Directed by John Stewart Miller, "Indiscretion" is a steamier than usual Lifetime flick about an affair gone wrong ... and deadly! Is there really any other way for these things to turn out on Lifetime?

Mira Sorvino is Veronica Simon, the gorgeous wife of rising political star Jake (the ageless Cary Elwes). Together, they're parents to super teen Lizzy (Katherine McNamara). So, the Simons are one big happy family, right? Well, Jake's run for the senate is leaving Veronica feeling somewhat neglected and Lizzy is definitely in need of of some parental guidance.

Enter Victor (Christopher Backus), a charismatic artist who meets Veronica at a party then promptly seduces her. Victor and Veronica enjoy a two-day fling, and she finally comes to her senses and realizes she belongs with her family. Well, Victor is in love! Really! After two days of awesome sex, he believes that they belong together ... forever!

So, it's not long before the long-haired artist begins popping up at the least convenient times. He also shows her a whacked out sculpture he made in her likeness. Oh ... he's also a former soldier who knows how to handle a gun. Things get even more tense when he befriends would-be senator Victor.

This movie is like a cross between "Fatal Attraction" and "Unfaithful." And it's sexier than the average Lifetime movie. It probably helps that the sexy leads (Sorvino and Backus) are married! And the surprise ending is definitely a departure from the usual Lifetime fare.

Good acting all the way around in this movie. Sorvino is awesome the wife caught between a rock and hard body, and Backus is perfect as the psycho, oversexed artist. Elwes does a solid job as the unassuming politico. McNamara and Sorvino are a credible mother-daughter combo with the former shining as the rebel kid.

"Indiscretion" is on again today at 6 p.m. (CST) ... and likely later this week. It's definitely a smart and sexy thriller with a solid cast. Check it out...but not with the kids in the room.

"Indiscretion": Directed by John Stewart Miller; Starring Mira Sorvino as Veronica; Cary Elwes as Jake; Christopher Backus as Victor; Katherine McNamara as Lizzy

Sunday, July 17, 2016

REVIEW: "Honeymoon from Hell"

Admittedly, I am sold on this movie for the title alone! The original title "The Legend of Alice Flagg" probably wouldn't fly with most Lifetimers, so "Honeymoon from Hell" does the trick perfectly!

And this was a great movie to spend a Saturday night with! It's one of Lifetime's horror thrillers (which I love) and is set at a beautiful estate in South Carolina. It begins with a tour guide explaining the story of Alice Flagg, a woman who died brokenhearted. Her ghost is the stuff of legend and factors heavily into the plot. Julia (Lexi Govagnoli) and Rivers (Adam Hagenbuch) are newlyweds are celebrating their nuptials at a gorgeous bed and breakfast run by the kindly Hazel (Catherine Hicks in a great performance). Also on site are bikini clad lush Janelle (Cameron Richardson), simple-minded hired hand Bear (Christian Brunetti), abusive supervisor Walter (Douglas Scott Streater) ... oh, and a possible supernatural entity, Alice Flag (Ciara Flynn).

Julia (who just learned that she's pregnant) is haunted by dreams of Alice ... and even a few near brushes with death ... possibly caused by this ghost. Everyone thinks she's stressed. Hazel tries to calm her down with chamomile tea, and husband Rivers is trying to soothe her anxieties ... while not looking at Janelle's hot bod. Complicating matters is the fact that a hurricane is aimed for this bed and breakfast.

So, is Julia losing her mind? Is Alice Flagg really a malevolent force? Or ... is something else happening here? This is one of those movie that's hard to review without offering spoilers. Let's just say that there are several twists and turns. Check out the encore presentation today at 4 p.m. (CST).

Director Jake Helgrin (who also co-wrote the screenplay) does a fine job of keeping viewers guessing and setting a creepy vibe at the rural B&B. Credit the cast, however, with making this a fun ride. Hicks is great as Hazel, the kindly host with a few secrets of her own. And Richardson is spot on as the obnoxious babe with a constant flow of cocktails. Rounding things out is the Giovagnoli as the confused, conflicted Julia. She definitely personifies a bride on a "honeymoon from hell" as she is unsure when to reveal her pregnancy to her groom ... and is tormented by the possible presence of Alice Flagg.

Is it a coincidence that "Honeymoon from Hell" debuted the same weekend as the new "Ghostbusters" movie? Probably...BUT I'll admit, I dozed off during the second half of "Ghostbusters" but stayed awake through this movie. Don't let that dissuade you from seeing the fomer, but definitely give this movie a chance this afternoon or on subsequent viewings on LMN.

"Honeymoon from Hell": Directed by Jake Helgren; Starring Lexi Giovagnoli as Julila; Catherime Hicks as Hazel; Adam Hagenbugh as Rivers; Christian Brunetti as Bear; Douglas Scott Streater as Walter; Tony Zazella as Deputy Dunn

Monday, July 11, 2016

Lifetime Classics on LMN Today!

Today's the day to revisit the golden age of Lifetime movies! Before plots centered around ill-fated online romances or seductive teens, many Lifetime movies focused on biopics of abused spouses or crimes of passion.

A few highlights of today's classic marathon include:

7 a.m. (CST) "A Woman Scorned: The Betty Broderick Story" - The title says it all! Back in the 1990s, Broderick's husband left her for a younger woman. Let's say that she didn't take it well! Meredith Baxter drops her "Family Ties' supermom image and transforms into Broderick, a crazed, vengeful wife.

11 a.m. (CST): "Mother, May I Sleep With Danger": This is the movie that set the pace for contemporary Lifetime movies! It has it all -- an obsessed stalker, a gorgeous co-ed, a lake house hideaway! Ivan Sergei is Billy (or Kevin), a handsome psycho. Tori Spelling is Laurel, the goody two-shoes college student who falls for him. When he becomes a little clingy, she cools things off ... but that just burns up the nutty Billy. Can't watch it this morning? Record it! It's a classic.

3 p.m. (CST): "Deadly Vows"- I don't know about you, but I'd be satisfied if I was married to Peggy Lipton (who plays Nancy Weston in this excellent movie). That's not enough for Gerald McRaney's character Tom. He's attracted to the equally pretty but younger Bobbi (Josie Bissett). She's fairly naive and falls for him too. Tom can't juggle two women, so he decides to get rid of one ... or both of them. McRaney is great as the small town Lothario with murder on his mind.

These are just three of the classics on LMN today. Check out the full schedule online. 

Sunday, July 10, 2016

Review: Hidden Truth

Last night, Lifetime premiered "Hidden Truth," a typical Lifetime thriller. It's not exactly a whodunnit, but is kind of a flashback to old school "Columbo" episodes with the killer revealed and a an ensuing cat and mouse detective game.

Zoe (Diana Hopper) has it tough. The 16-year old's mother was murdered and her father (Brendan McCarthy) was the prime suspect. She is a pretty self-sufficient teen, but she still has a guardian, aunt Jamie (Sarah Lind). Zoe has a few secrets though ... including an affair with married stud and restauranteur Michael (Shawn Christian). When she tries to break it off, Michael reacts badly ... killing her and dumping her body in a lake.

Not the best way to respond to a break-up, but Michael doesn't seem to care. Jamie is on the case though, and so is Sheriff Underwood (Parker Stevenson). Jamie's definitely a better detective than the local cops, so Michael's goose is cooked, right? Well, Michael's no fool. He is one step ahead of everyone, throwing the cops off his scent. Jamie, however, braves death threats and murder attempts to find out the truth.

So, there's not a lot of mystery in this thriller since we know who the culprit is. It's just a matter of finding out whether he'll get away with it. Lind is effective as the amateur detective aunt, who is undaunted in her investigation. Christian is the scene stealer  though as the remorseless Michael. Throw in ex-Hardy Boy Stevenson as the befuddled cop, and you have an above average Lifetime movie mystery.

I did find it hard to believe that in a small town no one would have known about Michael and Zoe's fling. Likewise, how the heck did Stevenson's character become sheriff? He's as effective as Barney Fife.

Look for a few Lifetime cliches including a chase through the woods and a remote lake setting. Still, the setting (Mammoth Lake, California) is absolutely gorgeous!

It's pretty predictable, but serves its purpose as a sturdy weekend thriller. Judge for yourself and let me know what you think.

"Hidden Truth": Directed by Steven R. Monroe; Starring Sarah Lind as Jamie, Shawn Christian as Michael; Parker Stevenson as Sheriff Underwood; Brendan McCarthy as Pace; Dianah Hopper as Zoe; Heidi Fielek as Layla; Brittany Underwood as Natalie

Saturday, July 9, 2016

Not on Lifetime: 'The Maddening'

I never thought I'd see Burt Reynolds in a horror movie. Well, I recently saw "The Maddening" on Showtime Beyond. And what a horror it is!

This movie has all of the trappings of a non-traditional Lifetime thriller ("Kept Woman," for example). But it also has an all-star cast of sorts: Reynolds, Angie Dickinson, Mia Sara, Josh Mostel. So, it's definitely worth watching, right?

Well, if you like star-studded sleazefests, this movie is definitely for you! And if you're a Reynolds fan, he is pretty awesome in this movie!

The movie begins with an idyllic family - The Osbornes - faced with some conflict. Cassie (Sara) wants David (Brian Wimmer) to spend less time on the road with his job and more time at home. Daughter Samantha (Kayla Buglewicz) agrees! When David is faced with another extended stint away from home, Cassie packs up and heads to her sister's house with Samantha in tow. She learns the first lesson in traveling through rural areas ... always fill up with gas before you hit the road! She stops in at a backwoods garage owned by the charming, macho Roy Scudder (Reynolds). Not long after departing, she experiences car trouble. Well, she's driving a classic 1950s Thunderbird, so it's obvious that this old thing would have problems, right? Well, Roy's handiwork may have had something to do with her troubles, so it's fortunate that he drives up to tow the car to his house and fix it. Second lesson of driving through the middle of nowhere: Don't let anyone tow your car to their home garage! Once at Roy's creepy swamp estate, Cassie and Samantha meet Scudder's wife Georgina (Dickinson), a total space case and their kid (?) Jill (Candace Huston). That's pretty much where the horror begins for poor Cassie and Samantha. They may have been better off visiting "The House of 1,000 Corpses" if not the Chainsaw family's home. Roy takes them prisoner, locking up Cassie (whom Georgina thinks is her sister) and letting Jill have Samantha as playmate (i.e. punching bag). It's up to David to help her, but he's about as useless as any Lifetime husband! Throw in a comic relief detective (Mostel) and you have a masterpiece of creepy sleaze!

Now, I am somewhat biased toward anything with Reynolds. As a kid, this guy was among my idols with his signature laugh and tough guy image. There's no laughing in this movie though. Screaming, yes! Definitely no laughing...not even a giggle. Reynolds is actually pretty convincing as the psychotic, perverted Roy. He's a one-man terror in this movie, keeping Sara's character imprisoned and kicking around anyone who gets in his way. I can't say for sure that he liked making this movie because it's a huge departure from his typical good guy roles. And he is definitely bad in this movie ... the worst any character can be.

Sara also might be wondering how she wound up in this nightmare. She's thrown around, molested ... and bathed (by Dickinson)! It's definitely a far cry from the freewheeling "Ferris Bueller's Day Off," but she holds her own as the desperate Cassie who has a few tricks up her sleeve.

Dickinson is effective as the delusional Georgina, and Mostel is actually pretty funny as he stumbles through crime scenes in search of the missing Osbornes. Of course, there is an Ozzy joke in regard to the family...even though his name is spelled Osbourne. 

Check out this movie if you have the stomach for it. It's a bit on the wild side and in line with some of Lifetime's wilder fare. Don't judge...but I liked this! It's not Hitchcock, but it's a demented roller coaster rise with the always dependable Reynolds at the helm.