Sunday, 14 September 2014
It's a bit disconcerting to find both the first two films in a budget box set to be watchable, but that is indeed what has happened with the not-so-imaginatively titled Horror Ten Movie Pack.
Not that I'm going to be running out and advocating that people see this film. It's a solid effort for a cheapie thriller, but it's still a cheapie thriller, and there's nothing especially memorable about it. Really, the most interesting thing about it is that it's an unofficial sequel to one of the most successful films of 1956 - The Bad Seed. In that film, child star Patty McCormack plays an 8-year old sociopath. In this, she plays a sociopathic mother.
McCormack's performance here is - deliberately, I think - hammy, to the point where I almost expected her to produce a flock of winged monkeys to do her bidding. The youngster playing her daughter gives a more nuanced performance than she does, though to be honest it's also less fun. McCormack's scenery chewing is the most entertaining thing on offer, here.
So why is Mommy so homicidal? Well, the movie never really says. There's a mention of how she's always go her own way all her life, being so beautiful and her parents' favorite, and there's a strong indication she's killed in the past for personal gain - she's outlived two husbands, at any rate. Her initial murder in this film, however, seems to be more out of pique than anything else. Her daughter misses out on an academic award, despite getting all As, and the teacher (played by Majel Barrett, for the nerds in the audience ... which is probably all of us, come to think of it) refuses to change the result. So teach has to die.
McCormack's character (she never gets a name other than 'Mommy') claims that the teacher was dead when she went to meet her, due to falling off a ladder, but the police are dubious about her story and the school janitor may have overheard something incriminating. One murder will quickly lead to more, and when push comes to shove, will even her daughter be safe?
This is a harmless way to spend 90 minutes, but it's also not anything particularly memorable or out of the ordinary. If everything had been as gonzo as McCormack's performance, I would probably have given it a qualified recommendation, but as is, I can't.