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Wednesday, May 23, 2018

EXCLUSIVE: 'Killer Island' Review

A murder in paradise ... a relationship on the rocks ... and a mystery to be solved. All of this adds up to another "Killer" movie from actor/director/producer/writer Barbie Castro.

Castro fans know her from Lifetime classics "Boyfriend Killer," "Girlfriend Killer," Patient Killer," and "Assumed Killer." Well, she's back with "Killer Island," which will be available on video-on-demand starting this weekend ... and likely to become a Lifetime staple on the near future.

Castro was generous enough to offer LM Mental, an EXCLUSIVE first look at this gem, and it's a fine addition to Castro's "Killer" repertoire.

Castro stars as the emotionally scarred Ashley. She's trying to give unfaithful hubby Mike (Brian Goss) another chance. What better place to rekindle a romance than an island resort? Well, Ashley and Mike are in for an adventure as their paradise getaway is the scene of a murder mystery. Two women are murdered on the island, and signs point to resort maintenance man Johnny (Miguel Fasa) as the possible killer. The often-inebriated fix-it man has some serious issues, but he has a job thanks to Uncle Jim (Jordi Vilasuso), one of the resort's managers.

Unfortunately for Johnny, Ashley is pulled into the mystery when she finds the anklet of one of the victims. When she leaves it in her room, Johnny steals it. Bad move! Ashley becomes suspicious and slowly but surely is drawn into the mystery of two missing coeds on the island!

Solving a mystery isn't what Mike had in mind for this vacation, but he's trying to make amends for past infidelities. Ashley has another helper in bartender Gordon (Brian Patrick Clarke), a longtime friend of Ashley's and resort know-it-all. Complicating matters is that the island harbors a painful memory for Ashley.

So, there's a lot going on in this movie, but leave it to expert director Alyn Darnay and veteran screenwriter Christine Conradt for reining everything in and delivering a smart thriller with plenty of red herrings -- not to mention an action-packed climax.

The film is a showcase for Castro, who expertly handles her role. She's definitely credible as a woman with a tortured past and feels a sense of obligation to helping solve this murder mystery. And, she has plenty of scenes to showcase her athletic prowess -- particularly during a climactic chase. And Fasas is a highlight as Johnny, a guy with plenty of secrets. He does an excellent job creating a character on the edge. Supporting cast members also shine, including Goss (a familiar face from Castro's "Girlfriend Killer") as Ashley's flawed knight, and Vilasuso as the suave Jim. It's also awesome to see veteran TV actor Clarke ("Eight is Enough," "General Hospital," "Bold and the Beautiful") back in action as friendly bartender Gordon, a guy who's ready to serve up a beer and some clues to the mystery.

No word on when this debuts on TV ... but if you can't wait, look for it on video on demand. Until then, pack your bags for an awesome getaway courtesy of Castro and company.

"Killer Island:" Directed by Alyn Darney; Starring Barbie Castro as Ashley, Brian Goss as Mike, Miguel Fasa as Johnny, Brian Patrick Clarke as Gordon, Jordi Vilasuso as Jim, Jackie Moore as Kelsy, Jacy King as Deena.

Tuesday, May 15, 2018

Review: 'The Wrong Daughter'

A little research can go a long way. The protagonists in "The Wrong Daughter" learn this lesson the hard way when a mother tries to connect with the daughter she gave up for adoption ... and winds up contacting a psychopath.

"The Wrong Daughter" was among this month's "Don't Mess With Mommy" premieres, and it was a mother of an awesome movie.

In this movie, we meet Kate (Cindy Busby) and Joe (Jon Prescott), a super couple who have it all...except for a child. Unfortunately, they are unable to conceive. Joe manages to track down Danica, the daughter that Kate once gave up for adoption.

Danica, however, is actually Samantha (Sydney Sweeney) a disturbed young lady. She stole the identity of the real Danica (Sierra Pond) before getting kicked out of a home for girls. Well, Kate and Samantha (posing as Danica) begin to bond. As their relationship blossoms, her friendship with business associate Melissa (Kelsey Griswold) takes a turn. Samantha is insanely jealous of her friendship with her and begins to sabotage it.

Samantha does a good job of covering her tracks, but as you might guess, a few people are on her trail -- Melissa, neighbor Ivan, Ms. Hanson (April Bowlby), and the real Danica. Samantha, however, has plenty of time to wreak havoc by committing murder, ripping off homeless people and destroying gardens. Of course, all of this could have been avoided with a DNA test or proof of ID. Instead, Kate's going by a mere social media meeting!!

This movie is a nice debut for director Ben Meyerson, who crafts a capable made-for-TV thriller that's over-the-top yet very entertaining. Sweeney is definitely credible as the clingy, crazy Samantha. Sweeney shifts gears from a sweet teen to a tantrum-throwing freak at the drop of a hat. And Busby also delivers the goods as a woman desperate to be a mother.

Watch this movie back-to-back with "Mommy Be Mine" (also starring Sierra Pond) for a double dose of mom-obsessed teens. Or, watch it on its own. "The Wrong Daughter" is definitely the right choice if you're seeking a fun viewing experience.

"Wrong Daughter": Directed by Ben Meyerson; Starring Sydney Sweeney as Samantha, Cindy Busby as Kate, Jon Prescott as Joe, Sierra Pond as Danica, April Bowlby as Ms. Hanson, Kelsey Griswold as Melissa, Jesse Pepe as Ivan; Delpaneaux Wills as Det. Willis

Saturday, May 12, 2018

Review: 'Mommy Be Mine'

It's Mother's Day Weekend!! Time for plenty of awesome "Mommy" and "Daughter" movies on Lifetime ... all part of the annual "Don't Mess With Mommy Week" hosted by the awesome Wendy Williams!

Last night, the Lifetime Movie Network premiered its latest classic "Mommy Be Mine" and it didn't disappoint.

Ava Sambora (daughter of Lifetime vet Heather Locklear and rocker Richie Sambora) stars as Summer, a teen queen with a great mom (Arianne Zucker). She's popular and smart ... pretty much living the teen dream until she meets new kid Cara (Sierra Pond in an excellent performance). Cara has some mommy issues. She doesn't have one and has a habit of killing other moms and daughters who don't reciprocate her affections.

Guess what! Cara begins leeching on Summer and mom's relationship ... spending the night, delivering gifts, calling Summer's mother, "Mom," and pretty much becoming an annoyance. Summer's friends know Cara's a trainwreck, and soon, some of them show up dead! Summer begins to play internet detective and discovers the truth about Cara. Unfortunately, it may be too late for her, mom, and mom's new boyfriend Steve (Shawn Christian) and summer's love interest Jason (Cameron Gellman).

Sambora delivers a great debut and is picture perfect as the sensitive teenager, who feels slighted by her mother's busy schedule. She's sweet in all of the right scenes but emerges as smart and tough to take on Cara.

The real star of this movie though is Sierra Pond, who shines as the psychotic Cara. She may be one of the creepiest Lifetime villains in a while. Her nice smile turns to a sinister scowl at the drop of a dime. And she expertly captures the essence of a woman obsessed. She also can destroy cupcakes and swing a mean baseball bat! We don't really get a good sense of Cara's motivations other than than she is nuts, but Pond has a field day with this role. She's charismatic, credible and charming (when hiding her sinister intentions).

Director Sean Olson effectively handles this thriller, providing ample time for character development and building the suspense to a boiling point.

All in all, a GREAT Mother's Day movie courtesy of our friends at MarVista! Highly recommended.

"Mommy Be Mine": Directed by Sean Olson; Starring Ava Sambora as Summer, Sierra Pond as Cara, Ariane Zucker as Lianne, Shawn Christian as Steve, Cameron Gellman as Jason, Megan McGown as Tori, Taylor Blackwell as April

Friday, May 11, 2018

Review: 'Dangerous Seduction'

Okay, I haven't blogged in a while ... BUT with a pair of premieres on Lifetime last week, I realized I needed to get back into the swing of things.

And with a title like "Deadly Seduction" (aka "The Queen of Sin"), how could I resist?

So, this movie is pretty crazy even by Lifetime standards. It begins with a murder mystery when a bloodied woman is run over by a speeding vehicle in a park. Cousins Posy Pinkerton (Christa B. Allen) and Laura (Amber Goldfarb) are frequent runners in the park and are questioned by nice guy cop Detective Dagliesh (Sergio Di Zio).

Posy, a medical illustrator, has other problems to contend with. She's a gorgeous young woman with a secret wild side...and a dud of a doctor fiancee. When she's not sketching medical stuff, Posy has created a character that reflects her inner desires ... The Queen of Sin. She even makes a costume (kind of a steampunk lingerie get-up) to wear.

Well, Dr. Dud is less than interested in getting kinky. Posy becomes intrigued with a traveling businessman named Jack (Richard de Klerk), who is tied to the park murder. They flirt, meet for drinks/dinner ... and thus, begins the dangerous seduction.

Jack is a henchman for perverse millionaire Alexander Gorser (Dean Armstrong), who likes to prance around in his undies when not drugging and killing co-eds. Well, Alex sets his sights Posy and assigns his A-Team of stooges to fetch her -- Jack, Stella (Inga Cadranel) and Charlie (Marc Thibaudeau).

This movie is as crazy as it sounds, but it's definitely must-see Lifetime TV. Allen is pretty good as Posy, who is desperate to spice up her love life. The real stars of this movie are the villains. Cadranel is excellent as the sexy and psychotic Inga. And, Thibadeau is equally effective as the steely-eyed heavy.

The plot is definitely original, and the film builds to an effective (and creepy) climax. This is part "50 Shades of Grey,"  part horror film, and highly recommended. I am not seeing this on the immediate Lifetime or LMN schedules, but it is likely to be included in a marathon of "Seduction"-themed films ("Nanny Seduction," "Lethal Seduction," etc.) in the not too distant future.

"Dangerous Seduction": Directed by Jean-Francois Rivard; Starring Christa B. Allen as Posy; Richard de Klerk as Jack; Amber Goldfarb as Laura; Dean Armstrong as Gorser; Marc Thibadeau as Charlie; Inga Cadranel as Stella 

Sunday, January 28, 2018

Review: 'Deadly Inn'

Talk about a real Motel Hell! The bed and breakfast in "Deadly Inn" (which premiered last week on Lifetime" is not the place to go for relaxation. Guests expecting some R&R at this place find M&M (murder and mayhem)!

Blame it all on a guest named Beth (played expertly by Aria Pullman). Her name is actually Iris, and she once resided in the gorgeous mansion that is the titular inn. She's off her rocker and was institutionalized after accidentally killing her daughter. After that tragedy, interior designer Robin (Angie Patterson) and her adopted daughter Ava (Kate Mina Lin) purchase the place and transform it into a rural getaway. Helping out is hunky handyman Drew (Chad Michael Collins).

Beth (aka Iris) arrives to the hotel fresh from the local mental ward. She is still grieving for her daughter and fixates her maternal obsessions on Ava. One problem ... Robin! So, Beth proceeds to whip up all kinds of plans to screw things up for Robin and her plans to make the mansion a successful B&B. Her plans become jeopardized when a mystery author arrives to the manor and may blow her cover.

Well, Beth is a super psycho. She obliterates anyone who gets in the way of a possible mom-daughter connection with unsuspecting Ava. She's armed with spiders and paperclips ... and won't hesitate to file a false sexual harassment claim. Meanwhile, poor Robin is clueless that the dead guests and other mishaps are caused by Beth (Iris).

This movie is awesome from the get-go. Solid performances from the cast, particularly dueling leads Pullman and Patterson. It's a bit predictable, but director John Murlowski knows how to handle tele-thrillers like this one. He's the guy who delivered previous Lifetime classics like "Fatal Defense" and "Bad Twin."

Of course, there are some loose ends that the audience is asked to overlook ... including how a designer, handyman and little girl transform a dusty mansion into a spectacular bed and breakfast! This is the kind of project that would require teams of home renovation professionals!

Regardless, make plans to check in to "Deadly Inn" the next time it airs on Lifetime or LMN. It's a top notch made-for-TV pic with a memorable hotel of horrors.

"Deadly Inn": Directed by John Murlowski; Starring Aria Pullman as Beth/Iris, Angie Patterson as Robin, Chad Michael Collins as Drew, Kate Mina Lin as Ava

Saturday, January 27, 2018

Review: ' Cocaine Godmother'

There was a lot of hype leading up to last week's Lifetime premiere of "Cocaine Godmother." The biopic of notorious coke queen Griselda Blanco had been anticipated by many. For some, Oscar winner Catherine Zeta Jones was the selling point. Others may have been fans of 2006 documentary "Cocaine Cowboys," which focused much attention on Blanco's violent exploits.

The buzz continued on Twitter, and it was a bit mixed. Some Tweeters complained that the movie was all over the place. Others were in awe of Jones' portrayal of Blanco.

Well, Jones was pretty good as the erratic, drug addled crime lord, but the movie did seem a bit disjointed at times. It starts off (literally) with a bang as an adolescent Blanco is used as a prostitute by her abusive mother in Colombia. When a john doesn't pay up, a young Blanco shoots him dead. That's the audience's introduction to the titular character, who makes her way to the U.S. as an entrepreneurial drug smuggler. She woos gangsters and earns favor from drug lord Pablo Escobar. She also picks up a girlfriend Carolina (Jenny Pellicer).

Blanco proves she is not a woman to be trifled with. She has her son's girlfriend's father murdered and shows no mercy towards anyone who crosses her path. Her drug empire grows and her sons (Matteo Stefan, Jose Julian, Spencer Borgeson) become her principal henchmen alongside wise hitman Rudy (Alejandro Edda). With power, however, comes recklessness and an addiction to cocaine. She obviously didn't watch "Scarface" (which came out around the same time as the real Blanco's bloody reign). 

Hot on Blanco's trail though are DEA agents who are equally tenacious and determined to end her reign of terror.

Jones is cool in this movie (think a less salcious Angie Dickinson in "Big Bad Mama") with wild eyes, random tantrums and an indecipherable accents. Pellicer is understated as the girlfriend in the wings, who watches her lover spin out of control.

Blanco's story would have been better served in a mini-series, but this movie is a nice detour from traditional Lifetime fare.

"Cocaine Godmother": Directed by Guillermo Navarro; Starring Catherine Zeta Jones as Griselda Blanco, Raul Mendez as Dario Sepulveda, Juan Pablo Espinosa as Alberto Bravo, Jenny Pellicer as Carolina

Saturday, January 20, 2018

Review: 'Deadly Delusion'

Haylie Duff is one of this blogger's favorite Lifetime regulars, and she doesn't disappoint in "Deadly Delusion" (originally titled "The Lease"). This thriller premiered last Friday and airs again today at 3 p.m. (CST) on Lifetime.

Duff stars as Julia, a woman in therapy. She's being treated by the Spock-like Dr. Leary (related to Timothy?) played by the always awesome Teri Polo. She's also involved with the sensitive and hunky Shane (Mike Faiola), who has led their relocation to the west coast. He works in the movie industry as an executive and film director boss Robert (Louis Mandylor) helped find an incredible deal on a home and provides Julia with an awesome car. "Perks of the job, babe," Shane reassures her.

The house is incredible, but Julia, a professional photographer, constantly sees shadowy figures lurking in the background ... and finds a snake in the bathroom sink! The constant ticking of the house clock doesn't help her mental state. Shane wants to make sure she's on her meds as every time she cries for help, there's nothing to see. Julia will see someone in the house, scream her head off, and Shane will come dashing to the rescue. Then "poof"... no intruder! It looks like she's off her rocker, but she is convinced someone is stalking her. Her paranoia reaches an all time high when she comes home to find sexy BFF Annie (Melissa Mars) walking out of her shower!

So, what's really going on? Is Julia out of her mind? Is Shane going to tear a quad running to a false alarm? Is Annie doing more than showering at Julia's pad? What exactly is Dr. Leary prescribing??And why is Robert so generous? Oh...and there's the Arthur, the semi-creepy real estate guy ... and all kinds of wires running through the house (part of the electrical system...or something else??).

This movie starts a bit slow, then builds to a pretty cool (and creative) climax. Duff is the main reason to keep watching. She is very convincing as a troubled woman ... who loses credibility with every cry for help. The audience wants to root for her, but most of the time, she comes across as (the title states) delusional. Director Nadeem Soumah is no stranger to building small screen suspense. This guy has helmed classics like "Turbulence" and "Broken Promise" (both make the rounds on the Lifetime Movie Network), so he can deliver the goods when it comes to made-for-TV magic.

"Deadly Delusion" is a tightly-wound thriller the benefits from Duff's portrayal of a woman unraveling and fine supporting performances (particularly Mandylor's small but effective role).

"Deadly Delusion": Directed by Nadeem Soumah; Starring Haylie Duff as Julia, Mike Faiola as Shane, Melissa Mars as Annie, Louis Mandylor as Robert, Teri Polo as Dr. Leary, and Michael Rene Walton as Arthur

Saturday, January 6, 2018

Review: 'Blood, Sweat, and Lies'

It's January, and people will be hitting their respective gyms to shed holiday poundage or prep for dating season! No better time than now to watch a movie about a deranged physical trainer on the Lifetime Movie Network. "Blood, Sweat, and Lies" debuted last night and was a perfect premiere for the first Friday of 2018!

At the film's onset we meet a knife-wielding Melissa (Hannah Barefoot). She's not the killer...but probably felt like using a blade on her douche boyfriend Carter (Drew Roy), who dumps her. Let's try to forget that Melissa is a beautiful art gallery owner. She's still bummed out! Her BFF Leslie (Briana Lane) suggests she get back in the game and tighten it up at the gym. Again...let's try to overlook the fact that Melissa already is fairly athletic looking. She hits up the nearby fitness center, which looks like it's in a garage or loading dock. Pumped up trainer Trey (Adam Huber) takes an immediate interest in her and sells her on his services.

Guess what happens. Trey becomes infatuated with her and is committed to her workout goals. He also rigs her fitness watch, so he can track her every move -- even monitoring her heart rate while she sleeps!! Bad news for Trey the trainer. Melissa meets hot art patron Adam (Matt Cedeno), and sparks fly.

Trey begins screw things up for the budding couple and pushes his client to her physical boundaries. He also is a bit too touchy feely!! This dude loves to stroke Melissa's shoulders and get too close for comfort.

 Huber is excellent as the scheming creeper. His menacing gaze speaks volumes about Trey's obsession. Barefoot is equally awesome as Melissa, who is committed to pumping up in the gym and getting her love life back on track. Their chemistry as predator and unwitting prey is classic Lifetime fare. Cedeno is picture perfect as Melissa's prince in waiting, and Lane is solid as Melissa's suspicious buddy.

Amanda Bermudez' story rolls along nicely under director Lane Shefter Bishop's guidance. No dull moments (although a few predictable ones) in this movie. So, if you plan to hit the gym this new year and cut down on TV, watch this movie first! It may inspire you to put down the weights and hold that remote control a little tighter.

"Blood, Sweat, and Lies": Directed by Lane Shefter Bishop; Starring Hannah Barefoot as Melissa, Adam Huber as Trey, Matt Cedeno as Adam, and Briana Lane as Leslie

Friday, January 5, 2018

Review: 'Bad Sister'

I can't think of a better way to spend Sunday morning than watching a naughty nun wreak havoc on the Lifetime Movie Network. This Sunday, "Bad Sister" takes over the television pulpit at 8 a.m. (CST), and God help any non-believers.

This nugget premiered a few years ago, but I am just NOW getting to it on my DVR. It's definitely a doozy filled with the usual Lifetime plot elements -- sex, psychotic vixens, troubled teens, etc.

Jason Brady (Devon Wekheiser) is a kid with some problems. For one, he's enrolled at Parochial school, which may fuel his rebellious nature. He also is at odds with his parents and has a slightly troubled past. On the bright side, he's an internet sensation! The kid can play sentimental acoustical ballads like no other and has amassed quite an online following through his videos. One fan happens to be the incredibly crazy -- and equally sexy -- Laura (Alyshia Ocshe in a a great performance).

He's set to return to his uniformed high school life at Saint Adeline's Catholic School alongside his kid sister Zoe (Ryan Newman). Waiting for him is Laura ... or her alter ego, Sister Sophia.

Zoe is wise to the fact that Sister Sophia is a bit out of the ordinary for a nun. The red lipstick might be a dead giveaway. Still, Laura ... er, Sister Sophia manages to earn Jason's trust, as well as his eye.

Slowly but surely, she eliminates the competition, including teen queen Sara (Sloane Avery) by planting a joint on her, and seduces the confused lad. Parading around in red underwear (perhaps the only pair she owns) certainly helps her cause.

Jason is definitely freaked out at the thought of sleeping with a nun! And Sister Sophia doesn't help matters by stalking him and threatening to go public of a sex tape she made of their first encounter. Zoe is hot on Laura/Sister Sophia's trail though, and Sister Rebecca (Helen Eigenberg) is suspicious too.

The rest of the film is typical Lifetime stuff. The pyscho pseudo sister continues to make Jason's life awkward, and this poor kid is at his wit's end. Will Jason recover emotionally to record more music and make amends with his parents (Robert Leeshock, Lise Simms)? Or, will he be the slave of a fiendish fake nun?

It's easy to predict what will happen throughout this movie, and that's not a bad thing! Osche is absolutely perfect as the oversexed psycho. Her portrayal of a desperate, cruel and needy stalker is excellent. Her alluring eyes and flawless smile belie her character's sinister intentions. Good work from Werkheiser, who convincingly plays the teen rebel whose tough exterior is melted by Sister Sophia. And kudos to Newman, who makes an excellent teen sleuth, digging up the dirt on this imposter with a bad habit.

This thriller is brought to one of the high priest of Lifetime excellence, director Doug Campbell, who has helmed a host of Lifetime epics including "Stalked By My Mother," "Stalked By My Doctor," "Stalked By My Neighbor," and "Backstabbed" to name a few. So, we're treated to a fast-paced mix of thrills and chills.

"Bad Sister" is definitely a great Lifetime movie. Don't take my word for it. Check it out this Sunday before heading off to mass ... or stumbling in from a night of fun.

"Bad Sister": Directed by Doug Campbell; Starring Alyshia Ochse as Laura/Sister Sophia, Devon Werkheiser as Jason, Ryan Newman as Zoe, Robert Leeshock as Gavin Brady, Lise Simms as Cheryl Brady, Helen Eigenberg as Sister Rebecca.