Change Your Image
Upload An Image
Crop And Save
No Doubting Thomas
Handsome, muscular Olympic gymnast Kurt Thomas (as Jonathan Cabot) does a routine on the high bar. Meanwhile, a man dressed like he's escaped from a modern hospital runs from horsemen who appear to be from medieval times. The running man is hit by an arrow while Mr. Thomas does a routine on the parallel bars. Believe it or not, the modern Thomas exists in the same time period as the characters in the chase scene. The story takes place in the present, but it moves to a faraway land. Thomas is recruited to go to this "Most Dangerous Game" land and win a contest. He is given an extraordinarily beautiful female partner, Tetchie Agbayani (as Princess Rubali). Thomas flips for her and everyone else...
"Gymkata" is meant to combine Thomas's "Gymnastics" with "Karate" as a martial arts sub-genre movie. Thomas and his co-star are very attractive. The emphasis is on action, but the story is very weak. Most of the story involves Thomas being given contrived situations in which to show off his gymnastic feats...
The most absurd sequence occurs after the first hour...
Thomas is in what appears to be a crumbling old village. Mysterious clocked figures appear in windows and doorways. One male beckons Thomas and shows his firm, naked buttocks. Thomas declines the encounter, which may have been telegraphed by the gymnast's coolness, in an earlier scene, toward a fawning gay attendant. Thomas makes his way to a town center, finds a pummel horse and begins gymnastically taking down people. The crumbling town citizens look like they wandered in from a film hybrid directed by the love child of Frederico Fellini and George Romano. For these approximately 20 minutes, "Gymkata" director Robert Clouse makes this otherwise boring film quite visually arresting...
******* Gymkata (5/3/1985) Robert Clouse ~ Kurt Thomas (the bizarre, approximately 20-mintute old town section)
**** Gymkata (5/3/1985) Robert Clouse ~ Kurt Thomas, Tetchie Agbayani, Richard Norton, Edward Bell (whole film)
Great Plains (2016)
Hit the Road, Mama
Showing bruises on her face and thigh, Oklahoma blonde Tara Buck (as Murel) is driving to California with her seven-year-old son Spencer Mabrey (as Kipp). They are attempting to separate from Ms. Buck's bearded, beer-drinking husband Damon Carney (as Tommy). He is an abusive husband and step-father. Making the journey difficult, Mr. Carney has accused Buck of kidnapping his step-son and the police are searching for the bruised, blonde mother. Desperate to protect her son, Buck visits relatives while trying to avoid the police and her husband...
"Inspired by a true story," this drama plays alongside other "Lifetime TV" stories, but it is not at all like the channel's celebrated "psycho killer" genre movies. This is a thoroughly serious domestic abuse story. Director Blair Hayes and his cast bring Buck and the characters she meets to life quite realistically. Each segment in "A Mother's Escape" arrives in time to help move what is essentially a slow, low-budget drama. The story could have been done as a higher budgeted feature film. It does not distinguish itself in stark realism, but impressively attempts.
****** A Mother's Escape/ Great Plains (7/21/2016) Blair Hayes ~ Tara Buck, Spencer Mabrey, Damon Carney, Beth Grant
Bad Twin (2016)
After her crazy sister is committed to an institution for the mentally ill, wealthy radio talk-show therapist Haylie Duff (as "Jen" Burgess) accepts guardianship of her pretty twin nieces. The 15-year-old twins "Olivia" and "Quinn" are played by one actress, mature-looking Grace Van Dien. The girls are not only strikingly beautiful and mature-looking, but also pout in in creepy, trouble-signaling ways. They sometimes dress like super-models and other times like they're Amish. In either case, they stand out in the messy home kept by unhinged mama Jacy King (as Cassandra Lynn Murphy). One of the twins is revealed to be creepier than the other and becomes the "Bad Twin" referred to in the title. You won't believe what she does, or maybe you will...
Watch for youngest "My Three Sons" classic TV comedy actor Barry Livingston help Ms. Duff as a kindly doctor...
This is a technically successful film for director John Murlowski and his crew. When a single performer is cast as twins, it's fun to try to watch for the instances when "special effects" or a double are used to get both characters on screen. She never really seems like the poor, troubled teenagers she is directed to portray, but Ms. Van Dien handles a range of emotions well. Both the effects and Mr. Murlowski's direction are quite skillful, and Alix Reeves' story gets you involved enough in the drama to suspend disbelief about the single twins. Everyone seems to manage their role without being particularly believable. Very little would lead me to believe any of the conspiring actresses would allow themselves to be trapped in an enclosed area with a swarm of bees.
**** Bad Twin (12/29/2016) John Murlowski ~ Haylie Duff, Grace Van Dien, Jacy King, Scott Bailey
Zombie Honeymoon (2004)
The Rocky Marriage Picture Show
Church bells ring morbidly, but New Jersey newlyweds Tracy Coogan and Graham Sibley (as Denise and Danny Zanders) are very happily married. Bounding out of the church, they take off in their "Just Married" car with Mr. Sibley at the wheel and Ms. Coogan bobbing her head in his lap. The honeymoon goes well, although one kiss does seem like a foreshadowing bite. With a little "Endless Summer" (1966) music, Sibley goes surfing. While the couple relaxes on the beach, an ugly zombie emerges from the ocean. He falls full front on Sibley and spews dark vomit down his throat. It appears like Sibley may die from the encounter. Coogan is happy when her husband miraculously recovers, but the couple faces a zombie challenge...
Neatly written and directed by David Gebroe, "Zombie Honeymoon" is essentially a love story. The horror and gore are present, but Mr. Gebroe does not focus on fright. This sort of monster drama recalls the supernatural characters explored by Dan Curtis on TV in "Dark Shadows" and Anne Rice in her "Vampire Lestat" novels. Explicitly, Mr. Gebroe's script identifies being a zombie as "an affliction." The couple must deal with the potentially monstrous condition and make it work in their marriage, or not...
Coogan and Sibley perform well and we understand their plight. Still, there is very an audience can invest in their characters. He likes to surf, she likes oral sex and they got married. They like Portugal, too. That's all great, for them. Generally, we are spectators and do not participate in their interests and activities. A couple of exceptions are among Mr. Gebroe's highlights. He intimately opens a scene by panning Coogan's legs as she dozes in her underwear, then discovers her groom sick in the bathroom. In this sequence, we are brought seductively and effectively into the drama. Lastly, near the end of the film, Coogan has a brief, dreamy vision of Sibley which shows a romanticism that should have been part of the story's opening.
***** Zombie Honeymoon (10/23/2004) David Gebroe ~ Tracy Coogan, Graham Sibley, Tonya Cornelisse, David M. Wallace
The Perfect Stalker (2016)
The Perfect Explanation
Highly-strung Danielle Savre (as Grace) receives some bad news. Her husband feels their sessions with a psychiatrist are not working and he wants to permanently end the marriage. Prone to spontaneous temper tantrums, Ms. Savre has something called HPD. HPD is short for Histrionic Personality Disorder (looked it up). A tragic mishap results in Savre moving from her small town to the relatively big city of Philadelphia. She wants to make a fresh start. Savre quickly goes grocery shopping and sees a strikingly good-looking older man, with great hair. The man is successful professor and writer Jefferson Brown (as Robert Harris). No, he doesn't sport the trendy "neatly trimmed beard" look, but the hair is perfect. Savre feigns dropping her groceries in order to meet him...
Savre wants to seduce and marry Mr. Brown, but there is one problem. Brown loves his live-in girlfriend Krista Morin (as Erin Stevens)...
"The Perfect Stalker" scores points with its early reference to what they call HPD, which is an honest to goodness (or badness) condition. This helps explain the hundreds (or soon to be) of unhinged "Lifetime" TV movie characters. They demonstrate "erratic behavior, unwillingness to accept criticism," are "overly dramatic, emotional," and, best of all (for TV movie purposes), they act out sexually after becoming obsessed with a targeted mate. This is the basic plot for these stories, which are sometimes "based on a true story." Now, it all makes sense. Curtis Crawford and his crew are responsible for dozens of these formula movies. This one is above average, due to a well-balanced but necessarily unhinged lead performance by Savre. Her last attempt is a titillating delight.
****** The Perfect Stalker (12/30/2016) Curtis Crawford ~ Danielle Savre, Jefferson Brown, Krista Morin, John Koensgen
Mommy, I Didn't Do It (2017)
The Wrong Woman Sequel
Four years after suffering through "The Wrong Woman" (2013), attractive single mother Danica McKellar (as Ellen Plainview) has left her job in the dentist's office. She has completed law school and is, presently, a very successful defense attorney. This is great news because the shrouded figure committing a murder in the opening minutes may be Ms. McKellar's 17-year-old daughter Paige Searcy (as Julie Anne Plainview). The college-bound young woman is suddenly arrested for the mysterious stabbing. Police don't mess around and Ms. Searcy is rushed to jail faster than you can say Jack Robinson. The police are convinced Searcy is guilty. She says, "Mommy, I didn't do it!" but can't help much with the case...
Nice to see veteran Veronica Cartwright as the main judge and "Cheers" to George Wendt in a small role...
The case is eventually solved and the mysterious murderer is positively identified. You'll have to watch to see if it's Searcy or someone else. Fast-talking police detective Jaleel White (as Gene Hamer) is convinced Searcy stabbed the teacher. His determination is inappropriately funny. Best girlfriend Caroline Sunshine (as Sylvie Garrett) is very supportive. She can't be cast as the unattractive best friend who is unable to attract boys when compared to Searcy, however. So, what was it about "The Wrong Woman" that warranted a sequel? Probably it was highly successful, commercially, meaning high ratings for the original and re-airings. Congratulations to director Richard Gabai and writer Leland Douglas.
*** Mommy, I Didn't Do It (1/1/2017) Richard Gabai ~ Danica McKellar, Paige Searcy, Jaleel White, Caroline Sunshine
Stalked by My Mother (2016)
Watching the Detective
In a Los Angeles-area library, a woman screams, "Maddy, Maddy!" Apparently, her daughter has been abducted. No, wait, it's only a nightmare. Over-protective mother Jennifer Taylor (as Claire) awakens. Her pretty blonde daughter Mia Topalian (as Maddy Beauregard) announces she is going out to a party in Westwood. When your teenage daughter says she's going to a party in Westwood, you tend to worry. After being assured there will be no drug-taking at the party, Ms. Taylor decides to follow Ms. Topalian anyway. "Booze, pot and guys trying to get in her pants," is how Taylor describes what she finds. Thanks to older friend Danielle Chuchran (as Gina West), 17-year-old Topalian hooks up with hunky 20-year-old Spencer Neville (as Tucker). Parked in a car, the handsome young man is easily coaxed out of his shirt, but mother Taylor arrives and spoils the fun...
Typically rollicking with derangement, "Stalked by My Mother" is another "Lifetime" TV movie from writer-director Doug Campbell. This one is interestingly plotted and would have benefited from a bigger budget, some story development and additional minutes (for pacing). The fast-motion and flashbacks are cheap and weigh it down. Also, most of the characters are not likable. Most notably, this is true for the mother, played by Taylor. Taylor emerges as the story's heroine and main character, but she's unlikable and stays that way. The story does hold your attention, with a few twists and turns. Midway, we're introduced to private detective Kevin Scott Allen (as Nick Fox). Drenched in alcohol and cheap cologne, "Nick Fox" is a highlight for Campbell and Mr. Allen. This supporting character is so engaging, he literally takes over the story during his time on screen.
**** Stalked by My Mother (9/26/2016) Doug Campbell ~ Jennifer Taylor, Danielle Chuchran, Mia Topalian, Kevin Scott Allen
His Secret Past (2016)
Whatever Floats Your Boat
While jogging, an attractive young blonde woman is attacked by a man concealed by a dark hoodie. In broad daylight. Fortunately, a handsome young man intervenes and scares off the attacker. The young woman is 18-year-old Gatlin Green (as Lily Becker). She has just discarded a cheating boyfriend and is looking forward to college. The young man is 20-year-old Austin James (as Mick Grant). He's new in town and lives on a boat in the marina. These two characters are mutually attracted, but Ms. Green's "true crime writer" mother Brigid Brannagh (as Jennifer) and others think our pretty protagonist should proceed very slowly with Mr. James. James is cute, heroic, polite and muscular with or without his shirt. He seems almost too perfect...
Not confirming anything, but "His Secret Past" means James' character. Of course, these TV movies are liable to pull a fast one on you...
Our first real clue may be the character not wanting to have his picture taken. Either James is miscast as an unattractive young man or he's secretly a picture picky actor. James does well in the role, with director Randy Carter growing him a smaller stature as compared to Green's tall, dark ex-boyfriend Alex Heartman (as Scott Ellison); note, he has no last scene. Also well cast is Green's concerned best friend Lindsay Bushman (as Kelly). Serving nicely as his own film editor, Mr. Carter makes the story and players smooth and natural. So, when the characters get rough, it means something. "His Secret Past" is routine but engaging. There is a lesson to be learned about calling 9-11 when you are in trouble. They put you on hold for a very long time.
***** His Secret Past (12/26/2016) Randy Carter ~ Gatlin Green, Austin James, Brigid Brannagh, Alex Heartman
The Wrong House (2016)
The Wrong Move
A handsome man, with a neatly trimmed beard, lurks around a house in the darkness. He seems to be attempting to break into the house, but he is interrupted by a phone call. Inside the house, we briefly see a dark figure creeping across the screen. This opening never really fits the rest of the story, although you could rationalize it with a line or two. "Inspired by a true story," the TV movie settles into place after the credits. The handsome man with the neatly trimmed beard is Tilky Jones (as Brian Lassiter). He moves into what looks like a dream house, with his attractive wife Clare Kramer (as Rebecca) and their adorable lemonade-selling pre-teen daughter Ashlyn Jade Lopez (as Maddy). Alas, a title like "The Wrong House" shouts trouble ahead...
This is competently guided by Sam Irvin and his crew. The direction is steady, holds interest, and we accept Mr. Irvin's putting women on counter-tops as a stylistic touch. The location and a supporting cast of instantly too-friendly neighbors give it a suitably phony atmosphere. Others in the cast include fitness trainer Allison McAtee (as Kathleen Strickland) and former "Melrose Place" mainstay Thomas Calabro (as Carter)...
What ruins the supposedly "true" story is the half-time decision by a major character to separate from her husband. Given the many incidents preceding the discovery of strange underwear in her bed, her decision is inexplicable. Since the character is presented as sane and intelligent, she should never be given a second chance. "The Wrong House" never addresses this character's sudden lack of cognition.
**** The Wrong House (12/26/2016) Sam Irvin ~ Clare Kramer, Tilky Jones, Allison McAtee, Thomas Calabro
The Lucy Show?
At his Los Angeles law offices, Herb's secretary is out sick. Eve (Eve Arden) arrives and persuades Herb (Herbert Rudley) she should serve as a temporary replacement. Very quickly, Kaye (Kaye Ballad) stops by and joins Eve in the office. The two women cause comic uproar and almost spoil a business deal. After lunching on Deviled eggs, Eve and Kaye allow Roger (Roger C. Carmel) to work in the office, too. He is unable to work at home without Kaye in the house. Naturally, Herb's office becomes a madhouse. In this episode, Eve and Kaye continue following Desi Arnaz and the series' writers (Bob Carroll Jr. and Madelyn Davis) "Lucy" antics. It's interesting to see them go for the concurrent "Lucy Show" situation, with each playing the ditsy secretary. Herb would have been great in the "Mr. Mooney" (Gale Gordon) role. Also, the Mothers-In-Law assist in the marriage of "Bachelor Father" boy Jimmy Boyd and "Dr. Pepper Girl" Donna Loren.
****** Herb's Little Helper (2/11/68) Elliott Lewis ~ Eve Arden, Kaye Ballard, Herbert Rudley, Roger C. Carmel