Tag Archives: Carrie Snodgress

The Attic (1980)

attic1

By Richard Winters

My Rating: 3 out of 10

4-Word Review: Attic holds a secret.

Louise (Carrie Snodgress) is a middle-aged librarian who loses her job when she sets the place on fire, which was deemed an accident, but similar to the one set at her father’s (Ray Milland) department store years earlier that forced him to jump out of a second story window and has left him bound to a wheelchair. She now takes care of him in their home, but finds his tyrannical nature to be overbearing. She fantasizes daily about Robert, a man she was set to marry until he disappeared on their wedding day and has never been seen since. To help aid her in her loneliness her friend Emily (Ruth Cox) buys her a pet chimpanzee, which she names Dickie, but her father does not like the animal and the monkey soon disappears just like Robert did 19 years earlier and Louise begins to wonder if there might be a connection.

Ponderously slow film that has very little of a plot. It seems like the ending twist was the starting point and then the rest of the script was created around it, but the story gets stretched thin and not enough going on to keep it interesting. The dream sequences where Louise fantasizes about killing her father has a campy tone making them more funny than scary and the whole thing lacks even mild shocks until the very end, which may be too late for some. It didn’t help matters that writer/director George Edwards was reportedly detached emotionally from the project and would at times walk-off the set forcing cinematographer Gary Graver to take over and in fact it was his close personal friendship that he attained with Snodgress while working on this that lead to her allowing him to use her home for his own horror movie that he directed 3 years later called Trick or Treat

This was meant as a sequel to The Killing Kindwhich was also directed by Edwards and came out 7 years earlier. The producers of that film though were not thrilled with this script and therefore refused to finance it and it took Edwards several years to find new investors. Once he did they demanded several changes including having the two characters, which had been played by Peter Brocco and Luana Anders in the first one, recast to Milland and Snodgress, who they felt were more famous and could help attract a wider audience. They also insisted that the setting be switched from Los Angeles to Wichita, Kansas a move that was hard on Edwards as he had a fear of flying forcing him to take a train to get there, but he became ill while onboard stranding him halfway and requiring him to take a cab ride the rest of the way, which cost $1,500, or $6,132 in today’s dollars.

The performance by Snodgress is the only thing that’s compelling as she reaches back to her Diary of a Mad Housewife character who’s constantly being ignored and oppressed by the man in her life. In that one it was her husband while here it was the father and her array of tormented emotions is effective, but I couldn’t understand why this otherwise attractive woman couldn’t find another eligible suitor. Certainly there was other men around and 19 years is a long time and since she was reasonably pretty and didn’t mind casual sex as she hooks-up at one point for a brief encounter with a sailor, so why no other boyfriends? If she was made to look ugly, or suffered from a deformity that caused her to remain isolated and a detraction to other men, that would’ve made it more understandable.

Spoiler Alert!

The twist at the end in which it’s revealed that the father can walk is not as surprising as it could’ve been since the viewer is already shown in a scene earlier of him getting out of his chair when he kills the monkey, and for the simple sake of surprise that scene should’ve been cut. The fact that he didn’t need to be confined to a wheelchair and had a lot of money then puts into question why did he play the ruse to begin with? He didn’t seem to like his daughter, so why play crippled just to keep her around? With his wealth he could’ve easily found another woman that he’d like better, so why not take that route? For that matter why did he kill Louise’s suitor so many years before, which is another big reveal we learn about when she finds the dead body in the attic. If it was because the father had a twisted sexual thing for his daughter and therefore didn’t want any other men in her life then that needed to get alluded too, which the film doesn’t do, which ultimately makes the whole scenario quite empty-headed and pointless.

My Rating: 3 out of 10

Released: October 19, 1980

Runtime: 1 Hour 34 Minutes

Rated PG

Director: George Edwards

Studio: Atlantic Releasing Corporation

Available: DVD

Homework (1982)

homework

By Richard Winters

My Rating: 2 out of 10

4-Word Review: Mother seduces daughter’s friend.

Tommy (Michael Morgan) is a blonde haired teen who hasn’t yet had sex and feels embarrassed about it. To make-up for it he decides to start-up a rock band with his friend Ralph (Lanny Horn). He wants the lead singer to be Sheila (Erin Donovan), but Sheila is too busy working-out in the pool, so she can be a part of the swim team, so he gets Lisa (Shell Kepler). Lisa though is not as talented and seems more interested in getting the attention of rock singer Reddog (Wings Hauser) who would prefer bedding her instead of hearing her sing. Sheila’s mother Diane (Joan Collins) has issues of her own as she’s stuck in a dead-end marriage and feels like the best sex she had was during her younger years. Then Tommy agrees to help her hang a picture in her living room and his youthful body reminds her of the boys she had sex with during her adolescence and she makes a move on Tommy who’s all too happy to oblige.

The most interesting aspect about this production is what occurred off-screen as Collins and her co-stars Lee Purcell and Carrie Snodgrass, as well as Betty Thomas, who has a brief part as Reddog’s secretary, all sued to have their names removed from the credits as they felt the story had been doctored during post production changing the theme in an attempt to become more like Private Lessons and My Tutorwhich had been hits around the same time and both had plots dealing with older women and adolescent boys. Collins though was most upset about the fact that a body double, played by Joy Michael, was brought in to do nude scenes.

For the most part Collins doesn’t really have much to offer except talk to what’s supposedly her husband, who’s never seen and only briefly heard. At one point she calls him George and then later-on she refers to him as Warren. These segments gets mixed-in with scenes of her when she was younger, again played by Joy Michael, and her getting-it-on with guys in the backseat of cars, but despite the nudity these moments are rather boring and don’t add much other than showing how sexually repressed she is now.

Snodgrass barely has any screen-time playing Tommy’s school counselor, which to me seemed a little weird as I would think most guys wouldn’t feel comfortable, nor would women for that matter, talking about their sexual hang-ups with a member of the opposite sex and therefore the part should’ve been played by a man. Purcell is funny as a nervous French teacher, but having her invite male students to her home for after-hours tutoring was ridiculous. The film plays it like she has only innocent intentions, but what kind of sensible grown woman would invite 16 and 17-year-old guys with notoriously raging hormones into her place and not be concerned that they might get the wrong idea, or take advantage of the situation make a move on her, since she lives alone.

The film’s weakest link though is Morgan, who’s too good-looking. This role should’ve been played by a scrawny geek, or a chubby one, with bad acne and thus making his inability to approach women make more sense. Instead with the male model features of Morgan most of the girls would be approaching him and not ignoring him like they do here. His character’s naivety is played-up too much like when he states that by the time kids reach the age of 12 most of them are sexually active, or his belief that his friend Ralph became sexually active at age 7, which is just too dumb to believe anyone would actually think that.

There are a few funny lines, but the story is unfocused and the plot poorly paced. Even with the brief runtime and sexually charged fantasy segments the film still gets quite draggy. The teens are the biggest issue as they’re broad composites rather than three-dimensional people. It’s been awhile since I’ve been in high school, but I don’t remember the kids of the day being quite this wide-eyed. Instead of going-off of their middle-aged presumptions of adolescence the filmmaker’s should’ve interviewed actual high school kids and got their input, which might’ve helped avoid the flat and unconvincing characters that we end-up getting.

My Rating: 2 out of 10

Released: August 27, 1982

Runtime: 1 Hour 29 Minutes

Rated R

Director: James Beshears

Studio: Jensen Farley Productions

Available: VHS

Murphy’s Law (1986)

murphys law

By Richard Winters

My Rating: 6 out of 10

4-Word Review: Psycho frames arresting cop.

Jack Murphy (Charles Bronson) is an aging cop who drinks too much and has lost a bit of an edge as he even ends up getting taken advantage of in embarrassing fashion by a young female carjacker named Arabella (Kathleen Wilhoite). Now he is being stalked by Joan Freeman (Carrie Snodgress) a criminal he put into jail ten years ago, but is now free and out for revenge. When she frames him for the murder of his ex-wife Jan (Angel Tompkins) he goes on the run. The problem is that he is now handcuffed to that same gal he arrested for carjacking and not only is there a big difference in their ages, but they also can’t agree on anything nor get along.

This is a fun and lively action flick that manages to put a new spin on the Bronson formula. The pairing of Chuck with a young actress is great and the main reason this is so diverting although the idea of having female psychotic wasn’t bad either. The action is pretty good including a nifty chase inside an airport as well as the exciting climactic sequence filmed inside the famous Bradbury Building that takes full advantage of the building’s multi-level balconies in its central atrium.

Wilhoite is peppy and engaging and seems to have no problem holding her own with a much older and more established actor. The wide variety of insulting adjectives that she uses on everyone and anybody is fun although it ends up getting a bit overplayed.

Bronson looks tired and washed-up, but it works great with his character and I thought this was one of his best latter career performances and when he needs to he can still kick-some-ass which is also fun. My only complaint is the character’s tendency to somehow ‘humiliate’ certain people by implying that they are gay which makes him seem homophobic and the film dated and out-of-touch.

Snodgress is excellent in a rare turn for her as a heavy. The age lines on her plain, but still uniquely attractive face has a certain odd sexual appeal especially as the blood of her victim’s splatters across it. The only issue I had with her character is that she enters one of her victim’s homes without a weapon of her own and instead uses the victim’s own rifle which is hanging on the wall to shoot him and although she is shown loading it with bullets that she apparently brought along my question would be how would she know they were the right bullets for that type of gun especially since she had never been to that place before?

Richard Romanus plays Frank Vincenzo another one of Jack’s nemesis and I got a kick out of his sobbing when Jack plays a game of Russian roulette with him. The character is also unique in that he wears a very visible hearing aid, which is interesting to one extent, but it never comes into play so I wasn’t sure why it was put in.

Despite some interesting variations it still ends up being rather one-dimensional and mechanical. It is entertaining to watch, but nothing memorable. Bronson’s wife Jill Ireland does not appear here, but gets listed as the film’s co-producer.

My Rating: 6 out of 10

Released: April 18, 1986

Runtime: 1Hour 40Minutes

Rated R

Director: J. Lee Thompson

Studio: The Cannon Group

Available: VHS, DVD