Bad Ronald (TV Movie 1974) Poster

(1974 TV Movie)

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Another decent 70's made for TV film.
yenlo20 September 1999
Another one of the made for TV films that appeared on the ABC Movies of the Week. Perhaps by today's standards it does not have the impact that it did when it came out in 74. However for a made for TV movie the story is intriguing and a level of suspense exists which keeps the viewer interested in finding out what will happen next. Most of the 70's made for TV films consisted of original unique stories with good acting and were all presented in a 90-minute format. All in all they including this one still seem head and shoulders above the made for TV movies of the 90's.
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like an Anne Frank-Norman Bates mixture
staytherelass29 April 2004
Many fans of 70s tv horror revere this obscure and neat movie from 1974.And with good reason!Ronald is a shy young man with a wild imagination who lives with his twisted mother.After he accidentally kills a neighborhood girl and buries her,his ma surmises Ronald should hide in a plastered-over room until things settle down.Ma dies and Ronald stays put,drilling peepholes into every room.By this point he's quite deranged and when a new family with pretty daughters moves in,look out!Scott Jacoby is great as Ronald and the whole movie is very creepy.I've seen other movies that borrowed elements of BR(hider in the house,christina's house),but none reached the eerie level of this one.
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Captures perfectly youthful feelings of loneliness and isolation
Ollyda10 December 2006
I watched this TV movie in January 1979 on television in England one weekday afternoon when I was off school. I was 15 years old and having a miserable time in my life. Bad Ronald captured perfectly my feelings of loneliness, isolation, being trapped and retreating into myself. You can imagine that I identified closely with Ronald's experience and the film made a lasting impression on me as it seems to have done on others. A couple of years ago I did manage to get hold of it on video and saw for the first time in a quarter of a century. Happily I can watch it now with much greater detachment. The director Buzz Kulik is better known, I believe, for Brian's Song but Bad Ronald deserves to be remembered too.
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An effectively creepy 70's made-for-TV killer kid horror flick
Woodyanders9 February 2007
Warning: Spoilers
Gawky misfit teen Ronald (a truly spooky and unnerving performance by Scott Jacoby; the gimpy magician in "The Little Girl Who Lives Down the Lane") accidentally kills a bratty little girl. He's subsequently hidden in a secret room of an old Victorian house by his sickly, smothering mother (a wonderful portrayal by "Planet of the Apes" film series regular Kim Hunter) in order to avoid being arrested by the authorities. Mom dies and a new family -- father Dabney Coleman, mother Pippa Scott, and their three hottie daughters Cindy Fisher, Cindy Eibacher and Lisa Eibacher -- move into the swanky and enormous abode. Ronald loses his grip on reality and disappears into an elaborate fantasy world created by his own warped overactive imagination. One fateful day he comes out of his clandestine hideaway hole to terrorize the hapless adolescent lasses when the parents leave for the weekend.

One of the all-time classic 70's made-for-TV horror psycho thrillers, "Bad Ronald" 's extremely fantastic and far-fetched premise is made reasonably credible and totally compelling by journeyman TV show veteran Buzz Kulik's capable direction (along with his episodic TV show credits, Kulik also helmed the enjoyable Burt Reynolds private eye picture "Shamus" and the underrated Steve McQueen action vehicle "The Hunter"). Fred Karlin's effectively eerie score and a top-rate cast make this feature a cut above average TV movie fare. Popping up in especially nice bits are John Larch as a shrewd homicide detective and John Fiedler as a friendly real estate agent. Yeah, this film is fairly preposterous, but thankfully Jacoby's unforgettably creepy and disturbing character keeps the show gripping and harrowing right down to its thrilling climax. Jacoby's role as a murderously messed-up teenage nerd deserves a place right alongside "The Bad Seed" 's Patty McCormack and the Udvarnovsky brothers from "The Other" in the All-Time Scary Killer Kids Hall of Infamy.
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Made for TV cult classic!
The_Void11 October 2006
On the face of it, Bad Ronald doesn't look like it has much going for it, but despite some silly plot devices and the fact that it was made for TV back in the seventies; this is actually a very decent little cult gem. The film capitalises on the idea of creepy old houses being haunted; only this time the house at the centre of the tale is not inhabited by ghosts, but rather by the psychopathic son of the previous owner. The premise works from what is probably the most obvious plot device ever, as we watch the title character; an odd young man obsessed by the fantasy world that he himself has created, accidentally murder a young neighbourhood girl. That's just the start of the chain of events, and when he comes home to tell his mother that he's killed a girl and buried the body in a shallow grave, she immediately decides that he must convert the downstairs bathroom into a secret hideout. He stays there while his mother brings him food, but tragedy strikes when she dies in hospital, leaving Ronald on his own. It's not long before a new family moves in, and Ronald isn't moving out...

I'm probably overrating this film a little really, but the way that the story is delivered is completely undemanding, and that makes this a very fun film to watch. Too many films these days are too complicated, but Buzz Kulik's film focuses on the important elements, and the resulting film is very simple and easy to get into. The film isn't heavy on characterisation, but the central situation has more than enough to make up for this, and the character of Ronald is easy to get behind, despite the fact that he's the villain of the piece. The fact that it was made for TV is obvious as the film looks very cheap and the acting is largely diabolical, but I've seen a lot worse from theatrically released films. There's no blood and gore in the film, partly because it was made for television, and partly because the story really doesn't need any gore to succeed. Bad Ronald is a real bona fide cult gem; it may never achieve classic status, but its well worth tracking down and I highly recommend this film to anyone that gets their hands on it. I know I'll definitely see it again!
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You won't see this on the Hallmark Channel
lazarillo30 August 2004
I've been wanting to see this movie for a long time and I'm glad I finally did. This is a TV movie from the glory days before TV movies were all aimed at bored housewives, before you had a rampaging Delta Burke or somebody like that crusading against the drunk driver who sold drugs to her son, turned out her daughter, and molested her dog. I'd watch Lifetime and the Hallmark channel religiously if there was a remote chance they'd ever show something like this! Ronald is a creepy but at the same time oddly sympathetic teenager played by Scott Jacoby (yes, THE Scott Jacoby!). After he kills a neighbor girl, his doting mother hides him in secret room, but then she tragically dies and a new family with three teenage daughters moves in. The dad is played by a young Dabney Coleman WITH HAIR. The two older daughters were played by the sexy Eilbacher sisters, but the perverted Ronald falls in love with the youngest daughter (Cindy Fisher), who the camera leers at as much as he does (she keeps running up stairs dressed in a short tennis skirt--is this 70's made-for-TV kiddie porn?). When the girls parents go out of town, Bad Ronald makes his presence known and all hell breaks loose. There are no important social messages here, no familial problems are addressed, Delta Burke does not appear--it's just two hours (minus commercial breaks) of enjoyable trash.
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Bad Bad Bad Bad Boy!
Coventry19 June 2007
"Bad Ronald" enjoys quite an impressive cult reputation, despite "only" being a low-budgeted and made-for-TV film from the early 70's, so I simply had to check it out to see what all the fuzz is about. I can't deny "Bad Ronald" has something irresistibly special! The atmosphere is thoroughly unsettling and Scott Jacoby portrays a strangely menacing Ronald. There are no special effects or bloody massacres in this film, yet it's an engaging little thriller with a fairly original premise. Ronald is a geeky and slightly peculiar teenager who lives with his dominant and overly protective mother. He's obsessed with his personally created comic book universe, yet his mother insists on becoming a prominent doctor. When Ronald accidentally murders a young girl after she mocked him one too many times, his mother sees no other solution than to construct an extra lair in their house and hide him from the cops. Then when mommy doesn't return from the hospital one day after a routine operation, Ronald remains hidden in the house and new tenants move in. Slowly going insane from loneliness and paranoia, Ronald mistakes the new tenants' daughter for his comic book heroine. The script is a little too far-fetched to be plausible and it definitely contains too many improbabilities, like the bizarrely noisy neighbor Mrs. Shumacher, for example, and the fatal gal blather operation. But at least it's never boring or exaggeratedly ridiculous, so I'm certainly not complaining. Ronald's parental house provides the film with a uniquely sinister setting, complete with hideous wallpaper & furniture, peepholes and secret cupboard passageways. Especially considering it's a TV-production, "Bad Ronald" is well photographed, suspenseful and it approaches several themes that are appealing to fans of grim 70's exploitation. Recommended!
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lesliesho13 November 2002
I was eleven or younger when I watched his film. I had sat up late watching t.v. with my father (sometimes we would do that until it went off the air--remember those days?). He fell asleep and I ended up watching Bad Ronald, the last thing on that night, all alone.

All I know is, I couldn't stop watching until the end, and I have never forgotten this movie. It scared me so much that I was afraid to get up and turn the t.v. off when it was over, and I still have a surprisingly clear recall of the film more than twenty years later. Surely this says something about the power of the idea, if nothing else.

Ronald's fantasy world was a big stand-out to me, as was the horror of his position, unexpectedly deserted by the only person who loved him.
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Creepy concept not a Horror movie though. Still, worths a watch.
insomniac_rod4 March 2006
Warning: Spoilers
I can't believe that this movie hasn't reached a "cult" status or even a wider fan database. The movie has an unique creepiness given by it's "made for t.v." label. The plot is more dramatic than scary but works perfect for a Horror movie (like Black Christmas or When A Stranger Calls) but very toned down.

**SPOILERS** In the likes of "Psycho", Ronald finds in his mother trust, friendship, and love. Unlike Norman Bates, Ronald is a wimp and seems totally unable to cause damage.

It all starts with Ronald and his mother celebrating his birthday. Mother makes him his favorite food and spend together a good time. The scene is sad for me because it displays a sad boy whose only friend is his sick mother (it's shown in a scene that she takes too many pills). That day, Ronald seems "happy" and self-confident on himself so he decides to ask out the hottest girl from school. He goes to her snobby house and asks her out but she rejects him in a rather mocking way. She was swimming in her pool with some friends. Sad Ronald, on his way home pushes by accident a mean girl from school who was riding on her bike. Ronald tries to help her getting up but she refuses and starts insulting him. Ronald ignores her but she goes too far by calling he and his mother "freaks". He tells her to apologize but she refuses; both struggle and ends with the blonde girl falling to the ground and hitting her head with a rock (very fake scene). Scene cuts to Ronald telling his mother that he killed and buried a girl. After several thoughts, Mother comes with the idea that he should hide from society while things "cool" a little. You know the rest. Ronald and his mom build a wall over the bathroom door and create a secret room. Ronald has plenty of space there so there's no problem. The way to access the room is from a secret door from the furniture room. Police comes to Ronald's home and discover his jacket with blood and a letter that Ronald himself wrote. The letter said that he apologizes to his mother because he did "something terrible". Brilliant Ronald didn't think about the consequences of his letter. Things seemed to be working on wheels until mother needs urgent surgery and leaves town. She says that it would only take a week for her to return. The week passes and mother didn't return. Ronald suspects because the phone rang once but it wasn't clear if it was mother who called. Anyways, soon before her death; mother sold the house "as quick as possible" in order for them to leave town. As Ronald learns that his mother died, new owners settled in the house. A couple and their three hot (I mean HOT) daughters are the new owners.

Crazy Ronald seems to be very busy working on his "fantasy" world called Atranta where he's the prince looking for his princess Fandetta or something like that. Ronald seems to be losing his mind and now looks more like he's a psycho. Soon after the new people arrive, they notice that food among other things (like a personal diary) disappear. The girls say that they feel a negative vibe in the house and that strange noises happen in the night.

Things start to get ugly when Mrs. Schumacher (the nosy neighbor) dies of a heart attack and hits her head with the ground after seeing Ronald sneaking in the kitchen. Ronald buries her. Then, he goes nuts and kidnaps the hot Babs (who wears through the movie hot mini skirts, thank you Babs). Then, he kidnaps Duane (the brother of the girl he killed time ago). What will happen to Ronald? Who will stop Ronald and how?

"Bad Ronald" is a dramatic movie with Horror tones. It's more of a dramatic story with some creepy scenes and scary ideas. The plot is very interesting and either makes you either hate or love the main character. The movie is creepy mainly because of it's "direct for t.v." status but it's not scary by any means. Check out the "eye" in the wall scene. Now, that's a scary scene. I like the movie very much because it shows you that Ronald behaves like that because of his mother and society. He's sort of a socially abused teen.
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One of the best teen performances ever!
udar559 November 2011
After accidentally killing a girl, teenager Ronald Wilby (Scott Jacoby) is hidden away from cops in a secret room in the house by his domineering mother (Kim Hunter). Poor Ronald is left all alone when she passes away. Sad Ronald finds the situation gets better and worse when Mr. Wood (Dabney Coleman) moves into the house with his wife and three daughters. Bad Ronald, whose mindset is becoming increasingly delusional, becomes fixated on the youngest daughter (Cindy Fisher) and begins to imagine she is the princess for the imaginary kingdom in his head. Highly effective TV-movie from director Buzz Kulik that is based on the novel by John Holbrook Vance. You do actually feel sorry for the boy and Jacoby gives a great performance, especially for a teen. The end is very rushed, but it is after all a TV movie. Expanded and it could be a top-notch thriller that still would work today. When I see something like this I wonder why Hollywood never tackles this kind of material for a remake (the French did a version in the early 1990s).
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movie of the week classic
skywardpictures13 October 2004
Warning: Spoilers
Bad Ronald was promoted heavily in the week preceding its air. The scene which included Ronald's eye peering back through the peephole at the girl who has just found it, replete with blood curdling horror-scream, is, with it's creepy soundtrack and wide angle distortion, one of the defining moments of teenage tele-voyeurism we have, and was shown at least fifty times to Americans before the movie aired, prompting many parents to quip "you're not watching that," before the full program air. But the effect worked and, although the film is a cheap derivation of Alfred Hitchcock's Psycho (1960), it's themes of forbidden lust and masturbatory existence trapped inside "one's own house" gave ABC the highest ratings for one of its MOW of that era (Nielsen). Kim Hunter of Streetcar Named Desire and Planet of the Apes fame does a classic turn as the clinging, insecure nag of a mother, protecting her mamma's boy "Ronald" whom she had too late in life ("mommy I killed the girl next door, she was making fun of me!") by walling-in a bathroom and giving him Carnation powdered milk to drink (a metaphor for her own menopausal "change" and long-dried bosom), which had just come onto the market and in reality was something else disgustingly tangible for America's teens to further identify. Ronald's existence, and later, his abandonment, inside his "room" is, essentially, one long "time-out" gone haywire, after he does THE dastardly deed of all deeds and doesn't come straight home like his mother said to. The film is more Revenge of the Nerds meets Psycho, than some of the other references here, but not to discount it's overall tone of fantastic Freudian self actualization deftly handed off by veteran director Buzz Kulick. Ronald takes the humiliating plunge into manhood by crashing through the wall of his room and into the arms of the police, crying out for his overbearing mum, as did Anthony Perkins in Psycho, and leaves us shaking our heads with a smile.
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Bad Ronald...classic Vance
ssully1 January 2005
Several people have commented on the bizarre fantasy aspects of this weird little movie...and for that we can thank the fantastic imagination of its author, the inimitable Jack Vance. Vance is better known as one of the most singular fantasy and sci-fi authors of the last fifty years -- his 'Dying Earth' stories are classics of the genre. Yet as far as I know, Bad Ronald is the only book of his ever made into a movie.

I'd love to see this come out on DVD, along with other classic ABC Movies of the Week like "Don't Be Afraid of the Dark" and "Crowhaven Farm".
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"Bad Ronald" : A 1970's TV Movie Must See
happipuppi135 September 2004
Warning: Spoilers
I viewed "Bad Ronald" on ABC back on Oct. 23rd,1974 and in repeated viewings after. I remember it quite well. Yes,Ronald is the stereo-typical idea of a high school nerd but he's not stupid in any sense. One day on his way home from school he meets up with a neighbor girl who kind of teases him and Ronald pushes her down after grabbing her by the face

....but she hits her head against the concrete. Ronald runs home to his mother and when she hears what he's done she panics and comes up with (what I still find absurd to this day)a plan to hide Ron in a small bathroom and(somehow in very short time)conceal it so no one knows it's there.

When the police come by the first time,she says he's run away from home. After that,time goes by and she feeds Ron on a tray through a wall opening. Some months later his mother passes on after finally going to the hospital for her gall bladder and the house is emptied for new people to move in. (The workmen or whoever didn't inspect this place to well did they?)

One night the family has the brother,Duane of the girl Ron killed over to dinner and he talks about it with them. All the while Ron is watching through peep holes in the wall.

He uses those to also spy on the daughter of the family. Ron makes a bad decision to go to her and introduce himself. She freaks out of course because he has such a demented look on his face. She runs away from him and in the process discovers the the old lady from next door is gone! Ron dragged her inside sometime ago after she spotted him and fell down some steps!

Now I don't recall if this is when the police come but later they do and Ronald comes crashing through the wall in an effort to escape but tumbles to the ground outside instead.

I believe after 1979,this was not shown on network TV again,I do know it was shown on late night movies a few times but I haven't seen it in about 20-25 years now. I'm still searching for it on video.

Overall,I'd say it is one of the best TV movies of the 1970's,as far as thriller's go. I give it 8 stars for entertainment value.

2 stars off for the unrealistic idea of a family moving in without having the house better inspected and not finding him. (END)
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Reasonably Effective TV Thriller.
AaronCapenBanner23 August 2013
Scott Jacoby portrays Ronald Wilby, a shy and awkward young man who accidentally kills a schoolmate who was mocking him. Ronald panics, and goes home to his overprotective mother, who decides to hide him in a secret room in the house, rather than tell the police. Unfortunately, the mother is soon taken to the hospital for an operation, and never Ronald stays in the furnished room/house until a new family moves in, knowing nothing of Ronald's presence, only that he went missing...

Good acting by Jacoby, and sensitive script give him a sympathetic portrayal of how he is lost in a fantasy world of his own creation, and how he tries to cope with the teenage daughters, whom he views as needing saving. The only drawback to the story is that it's too thin, with a short running time that barely covers the basic story possibilities before it is all over, in a much too quick fashion. Pity, since with more time and care, this could have been much better, but is still worth watching, available on DVD from Warner Archive.
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"The Wilby house is haunted by a ghost who isn't dead"
jsfmt9910 January 2005
Warning: Spoilers
One of the better TV movies from 1970's I saw this movie a long time ago. I remember it well and I loved it. Ronald Wilby accidentally kills a girl. In order to avoid prosecution from the police, Ronald and his mother construct a secret chamber in the house where Ronald hides and lives. Ronald's mother tells him that she has to leave for a week to have an operation but she dies. As a result, a new family moves into the Wilby house while Ronald continues to live in the walls and spy on the new family and their three daughters. As the movie continues, Ronald sinks deeper and deeper into madness creating and living in his own world called "ATRANTA". In his world, Ronald becomes "Prince Norbert" the ruler of Atranta. Ronald also falls in love with the youngest of the daughters who he calls "Princess Vancetta". He eventually kidnaps her. This movie was really creepy and suspenseful for its time. I loved the scene where the nosy neighbor Mrs. Schumacher caught Ronald raiding the refrigerator. The movie is a watered down version of the novel by John Holbrook Vance, but in the 1970's censorship, most TV movies were also watered down this way. It is definitely dated and the clothes that people wear in this movie are those reminiscent of the ones worn by the Brady Bunch. By today's standards, this movie would be considered to be campy but it is definitely worth a look because it is a good story! The ending was pretty wild too!! Emmy Winner Scott Jacoby did a great job as Ronald Wilby. He handled his role very well and brought a good deal of complexity and depth to his character. Remember how he was knawing on that candy bar? Oscar winning actress Kim Hunter(also known for her role as Dr. Zera in the "Planet of the apes" movies) played his doting mother who had high aspirations for Ronald to become a doctor. A very young Dabney Coleman played Mr. Wood, who moved his wife and three daughters into the Wilby house unaware of Ronald's probing eyes spying on them from behind the walls. This movie is still around and you can buy it on VHS on Ebay. It sells on Ebay very fast and it took me 4 tries to finally buy it. Collectors are after this movie because an original VHS with the original artwork cover of it is very rare. As far as I know, a DVD version of it hasn't been released. However, you can buy a high quality DVD copy. Follow the link: I posted some "BAD RONALD" trivia questions here on the message board. If you are a true "BAD RONALD" fan, check out the message board here and see how many Bad Ronald trivia questions that you can answer. Good Luck!
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Bad Ronald: A gem among many ABC Tuesday Night movies.
SanDiego2 April 1999
My favorite television show of the late 60's early 70's was an anthology of made-for-TV movies which filled a 90-minute slot (the films I am guessing were about 70 to 75 minutes long without the commercials) under the title of ABC's Tuesday Night at the Movies. Unlike recent Night at the Movies which run on just about every network, ABC's was the first series of made-for-TV movies ever, and I say it is an anthology because they were all produced with a consistency of budget, style, and many of the same actors. Most became instant classics: the psychological horror films "The People Under the Stairs," and "Weekend of Terror," films about witchcraft like "Crowhaven Farm," the John Travolta tear-jerker "The Boy in the Plastic Bubble," the classic Speilberg thriller "Duel," the bootcamp protest film "Tribes," and science fiction and fantasy films such as "The Six Million Dollar Man," Andy Griffith's "Salvage," and the original "Fantasy Island," all of which became series. Actors such as Leslie Nielson, Darren McGavin, and Lois Nettleton became known as demistars. Eventually the more intense films became controversial due to its large audience of young people (like myself) and the entire night was replaced with sit-coms geared to teens and families ("Happy Days," "Laverne and Shirley," "Three's Company.") ABC used "Fantasy Island" to incorporate many of the themes the film series developed and used many of the same actors. But I remember those original films well ("Duel" is currently available on video, but alas not much else), full of the best excitement, chills, and adventure available for a young teenage boy. "Bad Ronald" has 1974 psycho-horror written all over it. A cousin to "The Little Girl Who Lived Down the Lane" and "The Chalk Garden," it represents a horror that sticks to your ribs because it could have been taken from real life: a child left abandoned creating his own world. A story about madness that takes a less violent turn than "Silence of the Lambs." A turn perhaps genius, certainly poetic and beautiful. Though he grows up alone in the walls of a house, his days are full of light, color, and life. With only his mind to influence him his artistic sense develops fast and faster where there is no separation from the reality in his artwork and the reality of his world. It should be released on video. I have not seen it since 1974 and it has left a greater impression on me than more recent critically acclaimed films. I rate this movie a ten. But of course, when I was a boy, I would have rated this film infinity.
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Lost TV Movie Horror Classic!
NutzieFagin26 December 2014
Warning: Spoilers
Ahhh The ABC Friday Movie of the Week! If you couldn't get a date, at least they had something decent playing on the boob tube! Okay! I was only twelve yrs old when this gem came on T.V but boy, I remember that this movie creep-ed me out so much--The noises in the attic and taps on the wall kinda made me wary that I may not be alone in my house after all.

Anyway, the plot is simple. Ronald is a shy awkward, sort of geeky high school boy that is taunted by one of the pretty popular girls one afternoon. He lashes out at her in anger by striking her, she accidentally falls hitting a rock killing her instantly. Horrified, Ronald confesses the crime to his widowed mother, who wants desperately to protect her only son by hiding him from the police. She fixes up a false room accessible by only a small door and she is somewhat successful until she finds out she has to leave him because she needs a surgical procedure. All is planned until her return, but what she didn't plan on was dying on the operating table. Ronald is therefore left alone on his own devices wondering where his mother is. He finally reasons out the truth when a new family moves in the house that she is dead.

Poor lonely Ronald now is in a mess. He steals the family's food and possessions to survive. He doesn't leave because he does not know where to go. But he then grows somewhat mentally twisted from his loneliness. He starts spying on the family more in a not so nice way-especially the young teen aged daughter. He begins to equate her with the girl who originally bullied him. Will Ronald go...well bad...and something awful will happen? I wish this film would be shown again because I'm sure it will become a cult favorite. If anyone does see this listed, I heartily recommend seeing it.
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Excellent and obscure 70's movie
nokomis6730 December 2001
An eerie film about an outcast teenage boy who lives in a fantasy world of princes and princesses which he spends his time elaborately illustrating on paper as a hobby. His mother has more sensible expectations for her son with a future medical career. But that bright future may never materialize after Ronald accidently kills a girl passing by who was taunting him with cruel remarks. In a state of shock and grief at what he'd done, Ronald buries the girl's body in a shallow grave and returns home. His mother, upon seeing him exhausted and dirty, asks what happened. Ronald, still visibly shaken, tells his mother what he did and his she tries to console him advising that it was only an accident. But when he tells his mother that he buried the girl's body, his mother becomes alarmed and angered realizing that the police will wonder why Ronald buried the body as if to conceal the incident. Knowing that this would destroy any chances of Ronald becoming a future doctor, his mother feels there is only one thing that can be done, hide Ronald in the house until things quiet down. She can just tell the police that he ran away. Ronald and his mother work through the night to convert a spare bathroom in their Victorian house into a well-concealed "hidden room" in the house where Ronald would remain at all times. One more problem arises as his mother must go in for some minor surgery which would leave Ronald on his own for a week alone. His mother dies during the operation. Ronald remains in the hidden room. The home is quickly put up for sale and a new family moves in. The house's new residents had already heard the horrific news of Ronald, and what he'd done, but they believed he had long since disappeared. Not long after the family settles in, they begin to hear unexplained noises and food begins missing from the kitchen. They wonder if their Victorian house also has a resident ghost. They find out soon enough!
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Secrets in the walls...
SusieSalmonLikeTheFish27 September 2014
Warning: Spoilers
Ronald Wilby certainly isn't your run-of-the-mill, sadistic and cruel serial killer. Played by Scott Jacoby, who starred as Mario in The Little Girl Who Lives Down the Lane (1976), Ronald never meant to kill anyone. It was just an accident that got him condemned to living in the walls of his mom's creepy old house.

So why rate this relatively unknown mystery/horror film a 10/10? Well, it has to be one of the most thrilling horror films I've ever seen, and Ronald is definitely a misunderstood character. His mother is sick and she has good intentions but doesn't understand why her son is bullied. He's a rather nerdy guy, but he also has a love for Chinese paintings, inventing his own fictional kingdom on paper. On his birthday, he stops by to see some "friends" and they all make fun of him. In dismay he leaves, only to knock the little sister of one of the bullies off her bike by mistake. She insults him, they argue, and he pushes her... and SPLAT, she hits her head on a brick of concrete.

Ronald's mother helpfully hides him in the walls, in their elaborate plan to stage his supposed running away to nosy neighbors and cops. When she goes for an operation one day, she dies in the hospital, leaving a new family buying the decrepit house and poor Ronald stuck trying to keep his home, and existence, a secret, especially with Mrs. Schumacher, the next-door old bat, always peeping in the windows to spy.

The soundtrack, it's very nostalgic with a 1970's atmosphere, and both melancholy and incredibly creepy, perfect for this movie. The acting was great, the plot original, and the movie was very sad in some ways but it has its comedic moments: Mrs. Schumacher makes a large assortment of funny faces each time she peeks into the window of the house. The good-natured but bumbling police officer is certainly no help, but very funny as he repeatedly is oblivious to the obvious.

Don't pass this retro classic by, it's a film you'll want to see if you're an avid horror fan, mystery fan, Scott Jacoby fan or just somebody looking for an entertaining film to watch. I also recommend The Little Girl Who Lives Down the Lane (1976), Don't Go in the House (1979), Magic (1978) and The Changeling (1980).
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Someone is in the house!
BandSAboutMovies22 October 2017
Originally airing on October 24, 1974 on the ABC Network, this film tells the sad tale of Ronald Wilby (Scott Jacoby, The Little Girl Who Lives Down the Lane), a kid who is a great artist and lives in a fantasy world. So far, he's me at 15, all socially awkward and afraid of girls. Where he is not like me is that his dad left town and never came back, leaving him with an insanely overprotective mother (Kim Hunter, Zira from Planet of the Apes) who has some mystery disease and wants Ronald to go to med school and heal her. That seems like a lot of pressure. Maybe so much pressure that after getting the Heisman and shut down by Laurie Matthews, the object of his affection, he ends up shoving Laurie's younger sister Carol. The little girl just keeps verbally abusing Ronald — trust me, I've had things twelve year old girls say hurt me to this day and gotten over every punch to my face — until he shoves her again, so hard that her head bounces off a concrete block. Boom. She's dead.

Yep. In the 70s — and perhaps nowhere moreso than a 70s made for TV movie — life is cheap. So Ronald and his mom do what any normal person and normal mother would do — they bury the body, hide the evidence and even hide Ronald inside a concealed room. They hope everything will just blow over — even when the police come by with questions. Nosy neighbors be damned, her boy will be just fine, provided he stops drawing, does his studies, eats right and remembers his exercises.

It should work. Except she dies, leaving Ronald alone in the house with all his cans of food. Before you get to the next commercial, Ronald has totally escaped into a fantasy world of princes, princesses and demons. His house is sold to the Wood family — mom, dad (Dabney Coleman of Cloak and Dagger, 9 to 5, Tootsie and so much more) and three sisters — Babs, Althea and Ellen.

Ronald is running out of food and really needs human interaction. Babs becomes the princess of his dreams while her boyfriend, Duane Matthews, becomes his demon. Well, he's already killed one of Duane's sisters and now he's descended so far into pure mania, who can say what will happen next!

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Bad Boy
Spuzzlightyear22 March 2012
I keep hearing stories about people "moving in" to homes via secret rooms etc. Well, what if the original tenants didn't leave? And further more, what if that tenant was accused of murder? Hahaha! This is the premise of this nifty little 70's thriller about a social outcast living with (of course) a controlling mother. After he accidentally kills someone (and buries her... not the smartest thing to do) his Mom, none to wise either, decides the best thing to do is to hide him in a false room in the house. Soon after, Mom dies in the hospital, leaving Ronald all alone. That is, until the next tenants move in. Completely wonderful premise, delivered by great acting, and a somewhat cheesy 70s feel to it. Comes highly recommended by me!
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An entertaining cult oddity.
BA_Harrison2 October 2017
When teenage outcast Ronald Wilby (Scott Jacoby) accidentally kills a young girl, his overprotective mother Elaine (Kim Hunter) comes up with an unusual way to keep her son out of the hands of the law: she instructs Ronald to turn their guest bathroom into a hideaway, covering up the doorway with plasterboard and wallpaper and creating a secret entrance in the pantry.

When the police inevitably turn up, his mother tells them that her son has left home and that she doesn't know his whereabouts. Her intention is to keep up the pretence until the time comes when she can move away with her son without raising suspicion. In the meantime, Ronald occupies his time by drawing characters from his fictional fantasy realm of Atranta.

Things goes awry, however, when Elaine has to go into hospital for an operation and dies while under the knife. Her presumably empty house is sold to a new family, the Woods, and Ronald is forced to sneak out whenever possible to find food. Eventually, the lad loses his grip on reality, retreating into his imaginary world, and becomes obsessed with the youngest Wood daughter (Cindy Fisher), who he believes is a princess who must come and live with him in Atranta.

Bad Ronald is a made-for-TV movie and, as such, doesn't exactly push the envelope (no gore or nudity here, folks); despite this, it still manages to be both creepy and bizarre enough to appeal to the cult crowd. The premise might be a bit far-fetched at times, Ronald managing to remain undiscovered even when sharing the house with a new family (wouldn't they hear him flushing the toilet?), but solid performances and great direction make it easy to overlook the film's sillier moments (the worst of which involve cartoonish snoop of a neighbour Mrs. Schumacher, overplayed by Linda Watkins).

Towards the end, Bad Ronald changes from quirky drama to tense thriller, with the now unhinged Ronald chasing 'princess' Babs through the house (director Buzz Kulik proving particularly fond of the 'upskirt' shot).

6.5 out of 10, rounded up to 7 for IMDb.
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"If he came back, we'd have him picked up." .. "What if he never left?"
moonspinner556 August 2016
Scott Jacoby gives a memorably creepy performance in this popular TV-movie about a young fugitive from the law who lives in the walled-up guest bathroom of his house after his divorced mother dies and a new family moves in. Interesting, if far-fetched premise, adapted by Andrew Peter Marin from a novel by John Holbrook Vance, contains some startling scenes handled well by veteran director Buzz Kulik. Although brief at 72 minutes, the movie utilizes its time well; Kulik was obviously working against the restraints of a low budget and content requirements for television, but he admirably doesn't treat this scenario lightly. Jeered teenager Ronald, who lives in a fantasy world of doomed medieval lovers, isn't simply a misfit--he's seriously touched in the head--and Jacoby doesn't attempt to make him likable. The supporting performances are uneven, ranging from stilted to overly-broad (the nosy neighbor), yet the dark, edgy mood of the piece is conveyed very well.
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Disturbed Boy Hiding Behind the Wall of a House
sonnyncherfan21 May 2006
This is one of my FAVORITE movies of ALL-TIME and VERY HARD TO FIND~~It took me about 6 yrs to figure out the title and another week to find it and I paid over $70 for it! The premise is of a young teen who is coddled by a protective mother and teased by peers. So much so that one day he actually has to hide from the outside world and his mom helps him make a living area, behind the pantry, in back of the staircase, unobservable to visitors to the house. But what happens when she dies and he needs to get food and take care of his basic necessities? The Brady Bunch type family moves in and Ronald has drawn artwork on the walls in his cubby, and written a fantasy-novel that shows his romantic feelings but also his mixed-up mind...A GREAT movie to spook you if you live in an old house...and the simple, 70's special effects make this a great thrill, that is not even diminished by it being in black and white.
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A film that came to define a generation.
stalinsays10 February 2001
The film Bad Ronald I think is really a commentary on what it is like to be an introvert, rather than just the story of an individual. The underlying message of this film speaks so much more than the surface one. A shy person, someone unsure of him or herself can feel like a shut in. Like they too are trapped within a confined space. The flaws in their personality imprison them in their home, not the death of their mother as in Ronald's case, but the situation is the same. Such introverts can never be comfortable with the way they live, just as Ronald isn't, because they are surrounded and flaunted by people who do not suffer the same affliction as they.

Ronald was forced to observe these people in the form of the people that move into the house he is trapped in, real life introverts seem them in the form of atheletes, socialites, quote end quote players, the rich, the beautiful, etc. Also attempts to fight back against these people or join their society seem futile to outsiders, exactly like Bad Ronald's attempt to date a popular girl far to good for him and romance one of the girls that comes into his house of habitation. A fantasy world, like Ronald's Entarantia (a movie parallel to geeks who live in the Star Wars universe), are their only way to stay sane. Bad Ronald carries alot of weight to it. Also it kicks ass.
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