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Laura Hendricks (Jane Seymour) is an illustrator of children's books and college art teacher living in Lennox, California with her son Josh (Brian Bonsall) and separated from her husband Matt (Chris Mulkey). Attica New York prison inmate Garry Nicholson (Gregory Harrison) who is serving life for the murder of his wife and son, learns to read and becomes obsessed with Laura's book of Rumpelstiltskin, escapes during a riot where he kills a guard, Rak (Tommy Hinkley) and takes his clothes. Garry makes his way to Lennox and Laura, clearing obstacles like her neighbours hostile dobermann, her mechanic, a rival art teacher up for the same professorship Diana Gibson (Susan Hess), Vince (Terence Knox) who is Rak's brother and who has tracked him from Attica, Matt, and eventually kidnapping Josh.
Seymour's long hair is wavy here and she wears bohemian clothes suitable for an art teacher. Laura is not a role of any depth, and her best scene is probably when she bickers with Diana, who gets the professorship because of the wealth of her father. She isn't even allowed to react to a presumably naked Harrison when he models for her class, their romantic dinner scene seems more interested in displaying candles than showing any flesh, and her girlfriend talk with Marci (Peggy Rea) where Laura wonders how she could have been attracted to the unstable Garry, cuts away from Seymour's face.
The teleplay by Paul and Sharon Boorstin uses the Rumplestiltskin fairy tale, where Garry describes `helping' Laura in his own serial killing way as `turning straw into gold', and his rationale for kidnapping Josh is because he is her `first born' and she is being punished for not valuing what he has done. This is all fine though when Laura guesses Garry's name, as in the tale, it doesn't have any impact, though the conclusion's use of a wheat cutter is a nice touch. An expectation that Garry will be burned to death, the way he had burned his wife and child (though he claims the child's presence was an unintentional) isn't met, though fire in the Attica riot are what helps to free him. Garry's state of mind is interesting in the way he drops the gun after he shoots one person and walks away, and in the way he doesn't clean a bloodied carpet stain in his room, with Harrison's playing making his weakness at `madness' effective in a child-like way.
Director Bill L Norton uses zooms on Seymour when she sees Josh falls down a well in a nightmare and nearly fall in real time, Willie Nelson singing Someone To Watch Over Me in the romantic dinner, but titled camera towards the end for Garry's lunacy and Laura's anguish.
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