A man and his wife find themselves stranded in a small western town. He discovers that a strange force has turned the residents into zombies, and runs into a beautiful woman who he believes is the key to the mystery.
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Mount Angel, a small New England community inhabited mostly by seniors, is beset with a serial killer; the bachelor chief of police and his kooky assistant figure out the murderer's motive. "Isn't it Shocking?", an ABC movie-of-the-week scripted by mystery writer Lane Slate and directed by John Badham, is full of talent, yet it fizzles out somewhere along the way. The teleplay, the handling and the performances are all offbeat, yet not odd or unusual enough; the scenario is tinged with black comedy, but it isn't funny enough; and, worst of all, there's no guesswork needed in these killings because neither Slate nor Badham is interested in making the film a mystery (the killer is revealed to us right off). Alan Alda has the perfect dryly-eccentric manner for a role like this; if he were comically frazzled, it would add too much weight to the material (he gives the proceedings the cautiously light touch it needs). But there's no sympathy for the elderly victims (the first of whom, a woman, is found stripped), and the succession of funeral services is too gloomy. Badham doesn't provide any sting (or, conversely, any dark humor) to the narrative; he's determined to bend this thing towards the bizarre but, like the pun in the title, he lacks taste and finesse.
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