MOMMIE DEAREST (1981)

Directed By: Frank Perry
Written By: Frank Perry, Frank Yablans, Tracy Hotchner & Robert Getchem 
Based on The Book by: Christina Crawford 
Cinematography: Paul Lohmann
Editor: Peter E. Berger 

Cast: Faye Dunaway, Diana Scarwid, Steve Forrest, Howard Da Silva, Rutanya Alda, Jocelyn Brando 

This is a mother and daughter tale and partial biography as it is more Christina Crawford’s story and memoir. 


This movie already has its own reputation. Mostly as a camp classic. Not that it seems like it was intended that way, which is what makes it more enjoyable overall is that this was done with an earnestness. Seeking to be a Hollywood tale based on a bestseller that qualifies more like gossip. More a supposed peek behind the scenes at a legendary actress that by today’s standards would have maybe been a tv-movie. This seems to be a blueprint for future films of this type.

One wonders if it was meant to be camp with Faye Dunaway’s look and some of the raised ridiculous melodrama of some scenes. It sometimes feels like an homage to the women of classic movies and the types of movies. Ms. Crawford made it throughout her career.

As his film goes behind the scenes but constantly seeks to have an aura of glamour. The film isn’t as grand as it presents itself. As it stays mostly indoors and feels like it takes place more on sets.

The film isn’t a biography of Joan Crawford, but more of Christina Crawford and her years spent with her adoptive mother. Based on her book which became a bestseller. As it is a gossip piece which I am sure has helped and hurt its reputation. These days there are so many books like this that they barely make an impact. 

What gives the film its luster is Faye Dunaway over the top but it seems pitch-perfect performance which has been the anchor and mascot for this film. It seems particularly when it comes to drag performers too. A sort of early inspiration. It might have partially damaged her career at the time, but she gives it her all and makes it memorable. As soon as you are done with the film. She is the one thing you probably won’t forget. She is at the center of it all.

No matter what happens or who she is in a scene with the film And scene is all about her. Diana Scarwid Co-Stars as Christina Crawford. Has to endure and stand up to her. She holds her own but is nowhere near as strong or powerful, but gets full credit for surviving and not backing down

So much so that you barely really notice a thing or anyone else. It is legendary in its own right as it is still talked about today next to her best-remembered performances in films such as NETWORK and BONNIE & CLYDE.

The scene that helped me discover camp and made me Laugh. While Christina is in boarding school and she ends up fooling around with a guy in a barn. (The teenagers are all played by adult actors who look too old) another girl discovers them and yells “I’m Gonna tell” is so ridiculous and the tone is so over the top. Almost what you would believe a 9-year-old would tell.

So many memorable scenes that are like the greatest hits of a sort with the forced haircut, the wire hangers meltdown, or the swimming race. 

The film is melodramatic, though as flagrant as she is her behavior is somewhat to be expected of what we know now 

While the film is fine at times it feels overwrought and downright dull as you wait for the next over-the-top thing to happen. 

Grade: B-

JUST BEFORE DAWN (1981)

Directed By: Jeff Lieberman
Written By: Gregg Irving, Joseph Middleton & Mark Arywitz
Cinematography: Joel King & Dean King 
Editor: Robert Olovett 

Cast: George Kennedy, Gregg Henry, Chris Lemmon, Mike Kellin, Deborah Rush, Ralph Seymour, Katie Powell, John Hunsacker, Charles Bartlett, Jamie Rose 

Five campers arrive in the mountains to examine some property they have bought, but are warned by Forest Ranger Roy McLean that a huge machete-wielding maniac has been terrorizing the area. Ignoring the warnings, they set up camp, and start disappearing one by one.


Wish I had seen this film before WRONG TURN. As the film seems influenced by it. While the film goes along you can see where a bunch of other horror films might have found influence in this film. Just as others might accuse this film of being influenced by THE HILLS HAVE EYES. 

Though this is a good starter horror film for anyone who wants to take baby steps into the genre and a perfect example of a film that is filled with cliches that it itself helped to build. With an impressive cast. 

The film has an early kill that then sets the playing field for the rest of the film and the characters.

The film is violent but surprisingly not gory or too violent. As the violence ends up showing some aftermath or suggested violence. So that it is a bit more reserved.

Though for it’s a more reserved matter. There is nudity but luckily the film isn’t as sex-obsessed as many in the genre and at the time. 

The film has a lower budget. So some effects are not quite great but good enough for the material considering the limits. Especially with its unconventional ending. 

The film gets a lot of use out of actor Chris Lemmon and his body. 

As the film goes along the victims Are humanized. Even if they are not stellar members of society they Don’t Deserve some of their fates. 

During the film it is quite understandable for the characters’ breakdown but their decisions are questionable. Though one element that becomes strong and sets the film apart is the hero and damsel in distress. Seems to switch roles as far as mentality towards the end. 

As she starts to put make-up on. It ends up being her war paint and bait. Though strange at first that she would get flirtatious after surviving an attack in which her boyfriend left her alone. Though at the endpoint he has been on his Way there to mentally deny and break down since the first body was discovered. So that he by the end is almost a shell of what he used to be. 

Which comes across as karma for earlier actions. Such as hitting a deer and lying about his fate and letting a survivor of an attack go with no real thought or concern. 

The one true surprise is the eventual reveal of the murder’s origins.

Grade: C+

BUTCHER BAKER, NIGHTMARE MAKER (1981)

Directed By: William Asher 
Written By: Stephen Breimer, Alan Jay Glueckman & Boon Collins 
Cinematography: Robbie Greenberg 
Editor: Ted Nicolaou 

Cast: Jimmy McNichol, Susan Tyrell, Bo Svenson, Julia Duffy, Bill Paxton, Britt Leach, Steve Eastin

Since the death of his parents fourteen years ago, Billy Lynch has been raised by his overprotective aunt Cheryl. But once he turns seventeen, he is soon set on planning his life…without her. He’s planning on going on to college and is dating local girl Julie. None of which sits well for his aunt, who’s lost everyone else in her life and now with her nephew ready to leave, ensures she starts on a campaign to keep him with her…forever. But as her plans misfire she becomes swept up in a cycle of psychosis and frenzied violence all being blamed on Billy by everyone else…including a homophobic detective, whose anti-gay prejudice is steadily reaching its zenith…leading to an unforeseeable outcome.


This film feels silly even for the time when it was released. Watching the film is a fun experience in its awfulness.

It’s entertainment is marred by its characters’ homophobia. This is disappointing as it easily could have been an unintentional camp classic. Surprised it hasn’t been embraced by a cult audience of not for anything at least the performance and gusto from Susan Tyrell.

The lead performance by Susan Tyrell gives it her all and goes way over the top. So unhinged In one of her rare leading roles.

So unhinged that as the movie moves along even her look begins to deteriorate. She is obviously wearing a wig and once her character cuts it she goes further off the deep end. It ends up being her real hair.

Revealing the killer wept on makes the movie more suspenseful. Especially as the film goes along, there ends up being few choices as to who it could be and where the film can go. 

The film has Bill Paxton in an early role as a jealous bully. Not to mention Julia Duffy as the teenage nephew’s love interest.

The film ultimately revolves around a serious obsession between the aunt for her nephew. Which also makes the film feel more suited for a drive in a movie theater. 

The movie’s special effects, the few that there Are, are so bad they become laughable especially when it cowls to stabbings and dismemberment. 

Memorably bad but the film Means well and tries hard. So that it is more entertaining and fun than scary. If this is a genre you particularly like.

It can be understood that homophobia was the Mood at the time. The film tries to justify that mood as evil by having one fo the good characters be gay. But also at the end, most of the characters with that discrimination end up dead. 

This is a film you look for more for fun than necessary thrills or any kind of horror 

GRADE: C

FRIDAY THE 13TH: PART 2 (1981)

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Directed By: Steve Miner
Written By: Ron Kurz
Based On Character Created By: Victor Miller
Cinematography By: Peter Stein
Editor: Susan E. Cunningham

Cast: Amy Steel, Adrienne King, Warrington Gillette, Kristen Baker, John Furey, Walt Gorney, Betsy Palmer 

Months after Alice beheaded psycho killer/mother Pamela Voorhees at Camp Crystal Lake, survivor Alice is still traumatized because of the murders. But there is one problem: Mrs. Voorhees’ son Jason never drowned and died, so he saw Alice behead Mrs. Voorhees. Jason finds Alice soon and murders her. Five years later, a camp counselor-in-training program begins at Packanack Lodge, right near Camp Crystal Lake. As teenagers in the program start snooping around Camp Crystal Lake, they start getting killed violently one by one.

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MS .45 (1981)

Directed By: Abel Ferrara
Written By: Nicholas St John
Cinematography: James Momel
Editor: Christopher Andrews Cast: Zoe Lund, Albert Sinkys, Darlene Stuto, Helen McGara A timid and mute seamstress goes insane after being attacked and raped twice in one day, in which she takes to the streets of New York City after dark and randomly shoots men with a .45 caliber pistol.


It took me a while to finally watch this as the film Has certain notoriety which was why I was afraid of it and it’s reputation. Not as gratuitous as feared and lives up to the hype. 

It’s a cultural landmark movie as we are witnessing classic New York. 

The film seems simple but very subversive and well thought out for the first time. Still has moments that are meant to be shocking and tension-filled. This is the perfect movie for the #Metoo era. A kind of worst nightmare.

To introduce us To the atmosphere the film takes place in we see how The chorus line of guys waiting to Hit on the ladies as they are Leaving the office how bad it is in the streets for the ladies and how it used to be and still seems to be. 

The film is simple and matter of fact. As a rape-revenge film. Kind of like DEATH WISH. As the person who victimized her at first gets away. It’s the second one on the same day that she fights back against and gets revenge on.

The main character is So quiet not even introduced in the first scene she is the last to leave after all the other characters we know have left. Sort of just appearing in the film.  Everyone around her is constantly looking after her, her co-workers, and even her neighbors. 

She is Mute and this seems to be the way of getting her feelings out. Her way Of dealing with the train as she has no one to really discuss what happened. Even as she becomes increasingly cold. She becomes suspicious of others more and more the deeper she gets into her killing spree. We see The different types of her victims, not rapists but she is constantly aware of male aggression and feels she must stop them. She also never kills a woman. Taking on men in general who cross her other who are aggressive, violent, or come on strongly. 

The second victim who was trying to return her purse while hitting on her, Is more innocent but had similar behavior that made him still come off just as bad, don’t usually see that in these films makes the heroine not justified but just as guilty.

 She is Taking back power but throughout taking out violence on those attracted to her though tends to like to watch over a couple making out with Fascination. So she ends up hyper-sexualized whereas before she was just plain and innocent. She has a focus and purpose that consumes her. As she goes out Looking for victims. The dog in the film that belongs to her neighbor seems to be able to tell how bad she is. As he is increasingly violent or uneasy with her.

She never seems to buy new bullets but we assume she does as we later see her loading her gun at home but she never seems to run out or reload and has plenty of ammo There is a certain poetic justice when she is taken down by another female who she can’t bare to kill. 

Making exploitation films early director Abel Ferrera kept making these films some might consider sleazy until they were looked upon as art.

Grade: B 

LADIES AND GENTELMEN, THE FABULOUS STAINS (1982)

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Directed By: Lou Adler
Written By: Nancy Dowd  (Credited As: Robert Morton)
Cinematography By: Bruce Surtees
Editor: Tom Benko

Cast: Diane Lane, Laura Dern, Ray Winstone, Christine Lahti, Paul Cook, Steve Jones, Peter Donat, David Clennon, Brent Spiner, Debbie Rochon

The media and disaffected teens mistake the acerbic rants of an obnoxious teenage punk rocker as a rallying cry for the women of America, launching her and her talentless group to national stardom.

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THE BURNING (1981)

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Directed By: Tony Maylam
Written By: Bob Weinstein & Peter Lawrence
Original Story By: Harvey Weinstein, Brad Grey & Tony Maylam
Created By: Harvey Weinstein
Cinematography By: Harvey Harrison
Editor: Jack Shoulder 


Cast: Brian Matthews, Leah Ayres, Brian Baker, Ned Eisenberg, Larry Joshua, Jason Alexander, Fisher Stevens, Lou David, Holly Hunter

A janitor at a summer camp is accidently burned severely from a prank. Years later, he is released from an institute, and returns to the camp with a pair of hedge clippers to take revenge on the campers.

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