(director: Julian Richards; screenwriter: Michael Mahin; cinematographer: Brian Sowell; editor: Mark Talbot-Butler; music: Simon Lambros; cast: Barbara Crampton (Lena O’Neill), Michael Paré (Det. Marc Fox), Kayleigh Gilbert (Tess Stern), Bob Levitan (Officer Hope), Chaz Bono (Ken Stern), Alexa Maris (Gia Fontaine), Bob Bancroft (Dr. Ince), Monte Markham (Dr. Hetch), Rae Dawn Chong (Dory Ryder), Peter Bogdanovich (Himself); Runtime: 77; MPAA Rating: NR; producer: Jeannie McGinnis; Amazon Prime; 2018)
“Disappointing horror pic.”
Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz
Brit filmmaker Julian Richards (“Shiver”/”The Last Horror Movie”) directs this disappointing horror pic, whereby the acting is stiff and the execution is uninspired. It’s written as a pulpy trash B-film by Michael Mahin, and is saddled with banal dialogue and a misguided Frankenstein’s monster story that tries to blend in a story about motherhood and acting.
16 years ago Barbara Crampton’s (Lena O’Neill, the Scream Queen) infant girl died during childbirth, but she’s unaware the child is still alive. Since then the actress has been in therapy with Dr. Hetch (Monte Markham), and has lost her acting ability (instead becoming an acting teacher). What Barbara is unaware of, is that the infant was reanimated by an electric shock while she lay in the morgue and was adopted by a necrophiliac morgue attendant Ken Stern (Chaz Bono, son of Sonny & Cher), the one who brought her back to life. The sicko kept her imprisoned at home in the room next to his mummified mother. But on her 16th birthday, Tess Stern (Kayleigh Gilbert), after developing electrokinetic powers of her own, escapes and goes looking to meet her birth mom and to face a society she feels was responsible for her torturous existence.
Rae Dawn Chong plays a sardonic actor’s agent. Gia Fontaine plays an aspiring actress taking acting lessons with Lena, who gets the lessons on her agent’s promise to get the former actress teacher considered for a part in Peter Bogdanovich’s latest film Darklands (which happens to be the title of Richards’ 1996 feature debut). Bob Levitan is the detective who seemingly has a romantic interest in the still grieving mom. Michael Paré is the detective in charge of investigating the murder spree the freakish teen causes, as she violently seeks to reunite with her estranged mom.
It follows a formulaic trail of familiar horror pic tropes even as it promises a better story by leaning so heavily on the Frankenstein setup, but it only delivers the usual trash found in bad monster films as it quickly runs out of ideas.
REVIEWED ON 5/6/2020 GRADE: C