By Richard Winters
My Rating: 6 out of 10
4-Word Review: Ugly girl gets revenge.
Miriam (Stockard Channing) is a homely student attending college who can’t seem to find a boyfriend or even any friends. Instead she is ostracized and rejected constantly in the cruelest ways possible. Upset by her depressing life she one day gets into her car and drives recklessly down the highway only to get into a crash, which forces surgeons to do major reconstructive surgery on her face that amazingly turns her into a beautiful woman. Now she can have any guy that she wants, but the bitterness of the way she was treated in the past eats away at her and she instead decides to get revenge by killing off all the people that rejected her using increasingly novel methods.
This made-for-TV film was written by Joan Rivers and it has the same humor that she used in her stand-up comedy act, which mainly focused on women’s deep seated insecurities involving their looks and the need to get married and please their husband. To some degree the whole thing is quite dated particularly the idea that a woman’s sole purpose in life is to use their looks to snare a rich husband who will then take care of them for the rest of their life. The humor and characters are also extremely clichéd and broad, but it still manages to have some funny bits.
Channing’s presence helps immensely and she manages to somehow carry off the role with dignity despite being degraded and humiliated at every turn. Her ugly makeover is impressive particularly the way they wadded up her nose to make her left nostril much larger than the right one, which had me reluctantly focused on it every time it came into view.
The supporting cast features many familiar faces in small, bit parts some of which are quite funny including Joe Flynn as a surgeon unable to find a patient’s appendix, Larry Wilcox as a dumb football player named Moose, Warren Berlinger as Miriam’s plumber fiancée and Susanne Zenor as the haughty roommate. This also marks the acting debut of Larry Manetti who can be spotted in a small role as a football player.
The murders themselves are what help stand this film apart from the others in what otherwise could be described as a Carrie precursor. The scene where Miriam kills off the Wilcox character while skydiving is impressively captured as is the segment where Berlinger drowns in a flood in his own bathroom. The only one that doesn’t quite make sense is when she tries to kill a pool player by having him hit the eight ball that is secretly a bomb. However, when it does finally go off, it explodes the entire pool hall, which would’ve easily killed Miriam along with the others had she not been inadvertently lead away at the last minute.
Fans of black humor should especially enjoy this and for a TV-movie it is far and away better than most. It also scores better than River’s theatrical feature Rabbit Test, which she did five years later and wasn’t funny at all.
My Rating: 6 out of 10
Released: November 6, 1973
Runtime: 1Hour 15Minutes
Director: Lee Phillips
Studio: ABC Circle Films