Sleeping with the Enemy Recap

Jamie

Laura is trapped in an abusive marriage to a controlling man. She is able to escape by faking her own death and moving to Iowa where she learns to live and love again. However, when she dares to visit her elderly mother her ex-husband is able to track her down. Can she take him out (and perhaps get the guy) before it’s too late? Find out in… Sleeping with the enemy.

How?! Act I: Laura and her husband seem to have the perfect life but underneath the visage he’s a controlling abusive maniac! Get out of there, Laura! And she does just that by faking her own death by drowning and escaping to picturesque Iowa where she can’t possibly fall in love with anyone. Act II: She immediately falls in love with the drama teacher next door. With his plaid shirts and flowing locks for days, he’s just a dreamy dreamboat and Laura is smitten. She learns to live and love again and he helps her figure out a good way to safely see her mom using his flair for costumes… or is it?! Because Laura’s husband from hell has figured out that she’s still alive and is staking out the old folks home. Using his own acting chops he finds out that Iowa is the place to be. Act III: Everywhere that Laura looks it seems like her husband has come for her… that’s because he has! Oh no! He shows up and is all like “you won’t kill me.” But jokes on him because she does. THE END. Big Question: Is Laura falling in love with a drama teacher a twist on the fact that she was married to a man who spent his life acting the role of happy family man, when in reality he was an abusive monster? Chew on that.

Why?! I mean… he’s a psycho. So there’s that. As for her… well she wants to get away from the psycho she married. It is pretty jarring to see an older movie like this where domestic abuse is depicted in what seems like a fairly accurate way. Pretty scary.

Who?! I think the most interesting thing is the BMT implications of possible casting choices for this film. Apparently Kim Bassinger and Sean Connery were attached to co-star. That’s just a powerhouse BMT couple right there (assuming of course that Connery was attached as love interest… not sure why he would join the project as the husband from hell).

What?! While there isn’t something for sale that fits our traditional definition of a prop, there is an entire house for sale. The house that Julia Roberts moves into in Iowa (really Abbeville, South Carolina) has been on the market and valued at 160K. You’d make that up in no time doing full time tours and entry fees for the museum.

Where?! This is a truly great BMT setting film. Clearly takes place on Cape Cod, Iowa, and in small parts Minnesota. It’s a wonder we didn’t end up doing this one for the mapl.de.map because it really is super duper duper Iowa and that seems somewhat rare. Loved it. B+

When?! Secret Holiday Film Alert! While much of the film takes place generally in the summer, there is a big scene at a Fourth of July parade that leads straight into a scene where Julia Robert and Mullet McGee try on costumes, laugh, love, and live along to the song Brown Eyed Girl. *chef’s kiss* A-

I can fully understand why this film is a bit of a cult classic. Julia Roberts was quite good and I thought the writing was pretty good too. As I said, I think the depiction of the husband as an abuser seems scarily accurate and makes some of the later scenes really interesting from a psychological perspective. And it was thrilling to boot. I think the biggest critique is that the directing really lets everything else down. Has the look and feel of a Lifetime film with the acting and writing of a Hollywood film. Let down by schlockiness… which is pretty much the tagline of this website. As for T.N.T., it was my first Olivier Gruner viewing experience, which probably brought more joy in itself than anything the actual film had to offer. He seems like a poor man’s JCVD but somehow way worse at acting. His weird smiling face seemed to throw everyone off until they all seemed like aliens trying to pretend to be human. It was quite the experience and definitely made me excited to see more of his films. Patrick?  

Patrick

‘Ello everyone! There’s nothing like a hefty dose of harrowing domestic violence drama to really make one wonder: should I make jokes about this film? Let’s get into it!

P’s View on the Preview – I straight up had to ask Jamie whether Safe Haven was a readaptation of Sleeping with the Enemy … before remembering that that movie was based on a Nicholas Sparks novel. Not surprisingly a ton of reviews from when Safe Haven was published made the exact same comparison, so I wasn’t alone. I hoped for an amazing Ghost Wife twist at the end of this film, but I didn’t expect it. What were my expectations? A solid performance from Roberts, and otherwise I just wanted the craziest thriller possible. Give me Color of Night, please. One Color of Night for Patrick.

The Good – I genuinely liked this film. It probably helps that I went into it expecting precisely what I got: a thriller. It seems like at the time reviewers were rather put off by the apparent bait-and-switch performed by the director by starting the film off as a very intriguing drama, and then tacking towards the more rote thriller tropes at the end. I can understand that, but this movie gave me mostly what I wanted: A solid Roberts performance, a crazy thriller stalker man, and a love interest with quite literally a mane of hair. I’m hoping Jamie finds an online auction where I can buy that man’s wig / real hair because mein Gott!

The Bad – The aforementioned thriller tropes. Don’t get me wrong, I was thrilled. But yeah, the movie didn’t need it. Give me an opening with Roberts seemingly happy at the beach. Give me a flashback to how they met, the wedding, a concerned warning from a friend, and the first time he hits her. Give me the establishment of the boating accident, and the suggestion that maybe she killed herself. And then bam! While he is out looking for her she kills him to make it look like an accident and goes off with her assumed identity. Let Roberts carry the drama, and drop the thrills. I don’t have much of a complaint about what I got, but I understand why critics hated it now, it was definitely not what you were hoping the director would do.

The BMT – I think this is a weirdly special BMT. It is another amazingly Iowa-y film. I’m honestly not too sure how we didn’t end up doing this for Iowa, but then again Iowa basically only produced weird dramas so whatever. Other than that I just kind of like when we get dramas in the mix, and especially when we get films where I think contemporary critics disagree with the critics at the time about the merits of the film. Gives us a lot to chew on. Did it meet my expectations? Not as a bad movie, it had to be maybe 10 times crazier. But I liked it. So … whatever.

Roast-radamus – I think we could definitely consider this as a Setting as a Character (Where?) because Iowa represents everything quaint and small-towny that the cosmopolitan Roberts is looking to escape back to. I’ll throw in a Worst Twist (How?) for the moment at the end when the ex-husband baddy basically comes back to life to try and kill Roberts. A classic Halloween / Michael Myers thing, but it works especially poorly when contrasted with the domestic violence drama we were sold in the first half of the film. And finally it’ll almost definitely be one of my nominations for Good for the year because guess what? I genuinely think this is a fine film all things considered, so there.

StreetCreditReport.com – I legit can’t find any worst-of lists with this film on it. I’m genuinely surprised because Ebert absolutely eviscerated the film. While I agree with the thesis, I actually mostly disagree with the nitpicks he reluctantly lobs out at the end of the review. (1) Yes the toilet hadn’t been used for weeks, the distraught Bergin I think rather obviously packed up the house and hadn’t visited again. (2) The woman saw the obituary in the newspaper which would have mentioned that she was survived by her husband, a financial adviser at Yada Yada Inc. (3) Roberts has been secretly squirreling away money for years it looked like, so why is it hard to believe she had done so for that purpose? (4) He knows she loves books and previously worked at a library so he could have just asked them where the “new girl” lives. (5) He only did the rearranging when she was out, either prior to his arrival or during the picnic and (6) because he is a psycho. This is why I don’t like dumb plot hole nitpicking of films, it is pretty easy to nitpick back. But I get the point: the movie isn’t very well written. And I generally agree.

Bring a Friend Analysis – This week we went with possibly one of the less well-known sibling pairs with Julia Roberts’ brother Eric Roberts (famous for playing the titular role in A Talking Cat?!). He has been in over 300 film (wowza) so we had the pick of the litter. Unfortunately we chose T.N.T. which mostly just reminded me of Black Friday in that it appeared to have been put together with little thought or care as a starring vehicle for a martial artist. Starring kickboxer Olivier Gruner, the film is effectively a knock off of a Van Damme feature: this French guy who is inexplicably in the U.S. military is just too good to do bad things and retires to the quiet life. But the baddies don’t want him to have a quiet life, so they’re here to make some noise. The End. Gruner has an impressive kickboxing background and gets to show it off a bit. Eric Roberts is barely in it and, I swear to god, is just playing Steve Jobs (perhaps not coincidentally Jobs rejoined Apple in 1997 and so would have been in the headlines around the time). The film is pretty worthless and trashy, but I’m glad I got to tick off my Olivier Gruner box on my martial arts bingo card. I’m going to give it a … B-. It would take some convincing to get me to watch it again, but for a martial artist actor completionist it is must see.

Cheerios,

The Sklogs

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Sleeping with the Enemy Quiz

Hmmmmm, let’s see I was on my new friend’s boat in a storm, and then got tossed overboard by the boom … and then I can’t remember anything. Where’s my wife again?

Pop Quiz Hot Shot!

1) In the beginning of the film the happy couple takes a boat ride with their new next door neighbor. Why doesn’t Julia Roberts like to go sailing, and why does she spash two lights on shore before leaving?

2) What state did Julia Roberts live in? Where did she move? Where did she apparently grow up (i.e. where was her mother’s original nursing home)?

3) What song if Julia Roberts’ new beau singing in the garden he he dances his fro out into a curly god-like lion’s mane?

4) What job does Julia Roberts get in town, and what job does her beau Kevin Anderson have?

5) What four pieces of evidence does the baddy collect before becoming convinced that his wife is alive?

Answers

Sleeping with the Enemy Preview

Rolled up in the carpet in the back of the semi, Patrick is disoriented. Normally in such a situation either he or Jamie would wriggle free of their binding and then free the other. But alas, Jamie is gone and the ropes containing Patrick’s raw athletic ability seem tight… almost too tight. Getting an idea he slowly dribbles sweat over his rippling abs into the rope. As it swells the tension becomes too great and the rope breaks! Ha! Who needs stupid Jamie anyway. Unrolling himself he comes face to face with a beautiful lady. “Hey!” says Patrick, “If you were back here the whole time why didn’t you help me?” But as a sultry smile graces her lips he realizes exactly why, “oh, you’re the enemy aren’t you?” She simply nods, but her eyes are telling him that maybe she’s thinking about him in a more friendly way. He looks at his wedding ring and thinks of his children. Jamie would sure come in handy for this part. Putting on a stylish hat to complement his shirtless bod and wrangler jeans, he winks at her and asks, “but maybe we can be more like frienemies.” That’s right! We’re watching Sleeping with the Enemy, the Julia Roberts thriller about the husband from hell. This is one of those films that has a bit of a cult following presumably because it played on cable TV back when people either watched cable TV or stared at a wall (legends say). Always nice to get a star vehicle. Let’s go!

Teamed with the dark figure, Jamie is able to dispatch the mailmen with ease. It’s like there’s some telepathic link with the man, but Jamie shakes off his unease. “Hiya, bro. I’m just trying to find my way back to New Angeles and could use a ride. You got another pair of those sweet RBlades?” The man grimaces but quickly turns it into a friendly smirk. “I’ll do you one better… bro,” he hisses as he reveals a totally pimped out hang glider. “Cool,” Jamie breathes as he buckles up for the ride of his life, “This is going to be T.N.T.” That’s right! We’re pairing the Julia Roberts entree with an Eric Roberts dessert in T.N.T. That of course stands for Tactical Neutralization Team. And lest you think that some lame backronym… there actually was a Tactical Neutralization Team in the Air Force. So… jokes on you (and probably us because we’re watching this film). Let’s go!

Sleeping with the Enemy (1991) – BMeTric: 25.7 

SleepingwiththeEnemyIMDb_BMeT

SleepingwiththeEnemyIMDb_RV

(Wow this really actually genuinely made a comeback. That is more than regression to the mean, because that usually regresses to around 6.0 or a little higher. It is a little higher, but the trajectory is suggesting people actually like this film more now I think.)

Leonard Maltin – 2 stars –  Practically suspense-less thriller about a young woman who flees from her brutal husband and tries to start life anew in Iowa. Unabashed star vehicle for Roberts (complete with “cute” montage set to the oldie “Brown-Eyed Girl”) is relentlessly predictable.

(Suspense-less would be bad. That’s all I’m here for. The rest of it I don’t really see as criticism … so what if it is a star vehicle for Roberts. She was one of the big up and coming stars of the time. Just a strange idea, although maybe that came across more cynically back when this review was written.)

Trailer – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FcQqsrf2gik/

(WOW, they start the trailer like it is a romantic comedy! That is a crazy way to advertise what is legitimately a thriller, and then by the end it looks like a horror film complete with creepy John Carpenter synth music. Nope, don’t like it.)

Directors – Joseph Ruben – (Known For: Dreamscape; Return to Paradise; True Believer; The Stepfather; Future BMT: Money Train; The Forgotten; The Good Son; The Ottoman Lieutenant; BMT: Sleeping with the Enemy; Notes: He’s amazingly still working having directed The Ottoman Lieutenant in 2017, a rare WWI movie.)

Writers – Nancy Price (novel) – (BMT: Sleeping with the Enemy; Notes: This appears to basically be her only novel. She has a few others, but nothing significant. Amazingly this film was made within four years of publication.)

Ronald Bass (screenplay) – (Known For: My Best Friend’s Wedding; What Dreams May Come; Rain Man; Stepmom; Waiting to Exhale; The Joy Luck Club; When a Man Loves a Woman; Black Widow; How Stella Got Her Groove Back; Gardens of Stone; Future BMT: Amelia; Entrapment; Passion of Mind; Dangerous Minds; Snow Flower and the Secret Fan; Before We Go; Snow Falling on Cedars; BMT: Sleeping with the Enemy; Notes: Apparently very prolific employing his own team of research assistants to help him out.)

Actors – Julia Roberts – (Known For: Wonder; Steel Magnolias; Notting Hill; Charlie Wilson’s War; Ocean’s Eleven; My Best Friend’s Wedding; Pretty Woman; Mystic Pizza; Closer; Ocean’s Twelve; Erin Brockovich; Stepmom; August: Osage County; Flatliners; Ben Is Back; The Pelican Brief; Michael Collins; Runaway Bride; The Player; Conspiracy Theory; Future BMT: Full Frontal; Ready to Wear; Love, Wedding, Marriage; I Love Trouble; America’s Sweethearts; Eat Pray Love; Something to Talk About; Mary Reilly; Larry Crowne; Smurfs: The Lost Village; Dying Young; Secret in Their Eyes; Mona Lisa Smile; Fireflies in the Garden; Grand Champion; Hook; BMT: Valentine’s Day; Mother’s Day; Sleeping with the Enemy; Razzie Notes: Nominee for Worst Actress in 1997 for Mary Reilly; and in 2017 for Mother’s Day; and Nominee for Worst Supporting Actress for Hook in 1992; Notes: Somewhat notorious early in her career for leaving Kiefer Sutherland at the altar and running away with his friend Jason Patric. Her niece Emma Roberts has herself become rather famous.)

Patrick Bergin – (Known For: Free Fire; Ella Enchanted; Patriot Games; Mountains of the Moon; Map of the Human Heart; The Boys & Girl from County Clare; Silent Grace; Future BMT: Eye of the Beholder; The Invisible Circus; Strength and Honour; Love Crimes; Age of Kill; The Wee Man; BMT: Lawnmower Man 2: Beyond Cyberspace; Sleeping with the Enemy; Notes: I kind of used up all my fun facts on Lawnmower Man 2 … he was apparently at a Dog Festival in Dublin with his dog Kayla the other day, that’s fun.)

Kevin Anderson – (Known For: Risky Business; Charlotte’s Web; Hoffa; Heaven Is for Real; Salomé; The Night We Never Met; Firelight; In Country; Liebestraum; Miles from Home; Orphans; Eye of God; Future BMT: Rising Sun; BMT: Sleeping with the Enemy; A Thousand Acres; Notes: Has portrayed both JFK and RFK which is apparently quite rare.)

Budget/Gross – $19 million / Domestic: $101,599,005 (Worldwide: $174,999,005)

(That is a massive success. Obviously they kind of stopped releasing these to theaters over the years, possibly because it is so difficult to capitalize on the success … like it isn’t like you’re going to make a sequel or anything.)

#2 for the Thriller – Psycho / Stalker / Blank from Hell genre

sleepingwiththeenemy_psychothriller

(Easily the highest grossing bad film. And amazingly the only other one that grossed over $100 million besides Fatal Attraction. Amazing. The wave-like pattern is nice. Like they just regurgitate the same thriller ideas over and over every ten years.)

Rotten Tomatoes – 21% (7/33): A game Julia Roberts gives it her all, but Sleeping with the Enemy is one stalker thriller that’s unlikely to inspire many obsessions of its own.

(Obsession feels like an odd way of putting it … like, this is a domestic abuse situation, and one more about control and paranoia at that. Not really an obsession right? Whatever. Reviewer Highlight: There are good performances all through the movie, but the filmmakers don’t keep faith with their actors. – Roger Ebert, The Chicago Sun-Times)

Poster – Sleeping with the Frienemy (C+)

sleeping_with_the_enemy_ver2

(Very odd. Looks more like a book cover (spoiler alert on the tagline). Font is weird and bland and even the spacing is a little jarring. I’m not sure what to think… I think I appreciate it?… Like how I appreciate modern art.)

Tagline(s) – She is a stranger in a small town. She changed her name. Her looks. Her life. All to escape the most dangerous man she’s ever met. Her husband. (D)

(If I wanted to read a book I would have went to my local public library.)

Keyword(s) – psychopath; Top Ten by BMeTric: 88.9 Speed 2: Cruise Control (1997); 83.9 The Human Centipede II (Full Sequence) (2011); 82.7 Prom Night (I) (2008); 82.3 Halloween: Resurrection (2002); 82.2 I Know Who Killed Me (2007); 79.7 Highlander II: The Quickening (1991); 79.3 Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Next Generation (1994); 78.9 Jason X (2001); 75.0 Jason Goes to Hell: The Final Friday (1993); 74.5 The Human Centipede III (Final Sequence) (2015);

(Noice. All basically horror films as you would expect. Highlander II and Speed 2 out of nowhere. Speed 2 is a weird one as well. Dafoe was a psycho? He was a man who was made sick by his job seeking revenge on the corporation who screwed him over … is that a psycho? That is just a weird take on that character.)

Welcome to Earf (HoE Number 16) – The shortest path through The Movie Database cast lists using only BMT films is: Julia Roberts is No. 1 billed in Sleeping with the Enemy and No. 2 billed in Mother’s Day, which also stars Jennifer Aniston (No. 1 billed) who is in Just Go With It (No. 2 billed), which also stars Adam Sandler (No. 1 billed) who is in Jack and Jill (No. 1 billed), which also stars Al Pacino (No. 3 billed) who is in 88 Minutes (No. 1 billed), which also stars Leelee Sobieski (No. 3 billed) who is in Here on Earth (No. 1 billed) => 1 + 2 + 1 + 2 + 1 + 1 + 3 + 1 + 3 + 1 = 16. If we were to watch Hook, Jack, and The Glass House we can get the HoE Number down to 12.

Notes – Julia Roberts caused a controversy after she left Abbeville, South Carolina, where the film shot some location work. She said the place was “a living hell” and a “horribly racist” town and she would never return there. (Holy shit!)

Julia Roberts’ lead female role in Sleeping with the Enemy (1991) was originally written for Jane Fonda. (Really? Huh, it works really well for Roberts)

The name Laura chooses for herself is connected to her past life. The first name of Sarah means Princess, which is what Martin used to call her, and the last name of Waters symbolizes Laura’s supposed drowning. (Cool)

Julia Roberts, aged 22 when the film was shot in spring 1990, became the youngest actress to earn a seven-figure fee for a single performance. (She deserved it, this movie made bank wholly supported by her main performance and not much else)

It was Patrick Bergin’s idea to use composer Hector Berlioz’s song, one of his favorite pieces of music, as Martin Burney’s song of choice. (I liked it … although it seemed a bit over wrought in the end)

At the time director Joseph Ruben was hired, Kim Basinger was attached to the project as Laura Burney. She ultimately turned down the part, though, feeling she wasn’t right for the role. The character in the end was cast with Julia Roberts. (Kimmy B could have been good there, just a bit after her Batman role)

When this movie was submitted to the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA)for a rating it was given a rating of NC-17. An NC-17 rated film can only have limited advertisement in the US and many theaters will not show an NC-17 rated film. So to make a profit, the movie had to have a rating of R. In order for the MPAA to give this film an R rating, several seconds of the first sex scene between Martin and Laura had to be cut. The version of this film with the entire sex scene is known as the International version which was seen in the UK and other parts of Europe. (Huh, none of the sex scenes were crazy, and that is pretty crazy in retrospect)

[There was a long note here about Bergin’s potential sociopathy which just seemed a bit too speculative for my liking]

Upon its release, the movie ended an eleven week and almost three-month reign of Home Alone (1990) at the top of the North American box office. Both pictures were from the same 20th Century Fox.

The stars that were originally attached to the film’s lead roles were Kim Basinger, Sean Connery and Aidan Quinn. (Sean Connery would have been amazing).

The use of Berlioz’ “Symphonie Fantastique” is appropriate since the piece is a programmatic symphony depicting a young man, under the influence of opium, dreaming that he kills his girlfriend, is executed and ends up in hell. (Cool)

The film was made and released about four years after its source novel of the same name written by Nancy Price had first been published in 1987. (That is quick!)

The scene that Ben’s students are rehearsing when Martin spies on the class is from the play ‘The Seagull’ by Anton Chekhov.

Swimfan Preview

With the collars popped on their jean jackets and bubble gum a-poppin’, Rich and Poe ‘board their way to Seattle Tech (or as the kids call it, Seattle Blech. Rad). They’ve been on the case for a week and have deftly used their social skillz and disregard for the rulez to glean info from the high school rumor mill. With that they have targeted the auto vocational class as suspect numero uno. Word on the street is that they’ve developed some new tech that let’s them boost some of the sweet wheels around town. Selling them on the blackmarket can fetch a pretty penny, but these punks better be ready to step up to the streetz or all they’ll fetch is a world of hurt. “This has got to be the tech Gruber is after. Let’s take down this punks, get the ‘ware, and save my family,” says Rich, but Poe doesn’t like this one bit. Will they themselves become fugitives from the law by helping Gruber? No time for hesitation, though, as they stroll into class and immediately win over the gang of car thieves. One of them is wary, but the leader, Blaze, is pretty sure he can trust these new cool bros. They are soon pulled into the heists, and ultimately become part of their family. “Blaze,” Rich says, “you’re real cool, bro. I have something to tell you. We’re the fuzz. I’m sorry.” Blaze is shocked and horrified, “you gonna turn us in, bro?” tears glistening in his eyes. But they can’t and just ask him to hand over the tech. But Blaze is confused. Tech? What tech? They’ve mostly just been jimmying the locks and using their mad driving skillz to get away. But Blaze does remember some rumors about the Swim Team and their unlikely run to the championship last season. “They gotta have the tech, bros,” Blaze says, “so I suggest we grab some speedos and become some swim fans.” That’s right! We’re watching the teen thriller classic Swimfan starring our boy Jesse Bradford of Hackers fame. It’s a wonder he became such a swim champ after drinking coffee, smoking cigs, and hacking his life away just a short while before. What’s not a wonder is that he caught the eye of the crazy high school stalker. He’s Jesse Bradford! Let’s go!

Swimfan (2002) – BMeTric: 56.3 

SwimfanIMDb_BMeT

SwimfanIMDb_RV

(Holy shit, it was in the 4.0s? That seems quite low for a cheesy teen thriller. Then again, IMDb does tend to skew against films that target female viewership, so I shouldn’t be so surprised.)

Leonard Maltin – 2 stars –  Waterlogged teenage version of Fatal Attraction with Christensen as a new girl in town who sets her sights on high school swimming champion Bradford – who already has a girlfriend – and doesn’t take rejection well. Even as a formula film this falls short, becoming outlandish, with laughable plot turns and dialogue.

(Yes, that is really all I want Leonard, outlandish and laughable plot turns. Yellow card for the terrible “waterlogged” use at the beginning, but then again, this is a Maltin review, so I don’t know what I expected really.)

Trailer – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W-RGVruG7Y0/

(That looks thrilling. I am thrilled. I’m officially super excited to watch Jesse Bradford swim around. I might be a swimfan … hold your breath!)

Directors – John Polson – (Known For: Tenderness; Siam Sunset; Future BMT: Hide and Seek; BMT: Swimfan; Notes: Started out as an actor, even having a named part in Mission: Impossible II. He’s transitioned to directing and producing, including producing Elementary starring none other than Jonny Lee Miller.)

Writers – Charles F. Bohl (written by) (as Charles Bohl) – (BMT: Swimfan; Notes: Died in 2018, he basically wrote this and then a bunch of television movies, notably one about Martha Stewart’s time in prison.)

Phillip Schneider (written by) – (BMT: Swimfan; Notes: Nothing about this guy except that weirdly he’s had an “announced” film on IMDb since 2017 called Homicidal which I fear will never see the light of day.)

Actors – Jesse Bradford – (Known For: Romeo + Juliet; Bring It On; Flags of Our Fathers; W.; Presumed Innocent; The Year of Spectacular Men; My Blue Heaven; Happy Endings; Falling in Love; Cherry Falls; King of the Hill; Far from Home: The Adventures of Yellow Dog; Heights; Bound; Prancer; A Soldier’s Daughter Never Cries; Future BMT: Clockstoppers; 10 Rules for Sleeping Around; Dead Awake; Hackers; Dancing at the Blue Iguana; Speedway Junky; Eulogy; BMT: Swimfan; I Hope They Serve Beer in Hell; Notes: Both of his parents are actors, he debuted as an infant in a Q-Tip commercial. He graduated from Columbia with a degree in film.)

Erika Christensen – (Known For: Traffic; The Case for Christ; The Upside of Anger; The Banger Sisters; Home Room; Mercy; Future BMT: Riding the Bullet; The Perfect Score; The Tortured; Leave It to Beaver; Flightplan; How to Rob a Bank (and 10 Tips to Actually Get Away with It); BMT: Swimfan; Notes: A Scientologist, and was clearly born into it, going to a Scientologist school as a kid. Was in over 100 episodes of parenthood.)

Shiri Appleby – (Known For: Charlie Wilson’s War; The Devil’s Candy; Havoc; I Love You to Death; The Meddler; Lemon; Undertow; I’m Reed Fish; When Do We Eat?; Future BMT: The Battle of Shaker Heights; The Other Sister; What Love Is; BMT: Swimfan; Notes: Was in over 50 episodes of Roswell right before landing this role. Is married to the celebrity chef Jon Shook.)

Budget/Gross – $10 million / Domestic: $28,564,995 (Worldwide: $34,411,240)

(That’s a solid haul. Where is Swimfan 2: Olympic Dreams? WHERE?!)

#18 for the Thriller – Psycho / Stalker / Blank from Hell genre

swimfan_psychothriller

(Wow this made less money than The Roommate and The Boy Next Door?! On a bit of a hiatus, but they always do come back. Might already be sequestered to VOD though.)

Rotten Tomatoes – 15% (14/92): A Fatal Attraction rip-off, Swimfan is a predictable, mediocre thriller.

(Basically what everyone says it that is well made, but predictable. Wait … is Fatal Attraction the film the following review is talking about? Reviewer Highlight: Director John Polson mutes the conservative sexual politics of the original film, focusing on the lightweight, efficient suspense story. – J. R. Jones, Chicago Reader)

Poster – Sklogfan (D+)

swimfan

(Terrible poster, but also a little ahead of its time. I feel like this is a type of poster that has only gotten more popular AS (After Swimfan). But yeah, it sucks and even the font is a little lackluster. I give it a bump for being a little artistic.).

Tagline(s) – His biggest fan just became his worst nightmare. (C)

(My brain is having trouble figuring out whether this is good. It’s on the verge of being too long and on the verge of being clever (I think). It does paint a very clear picture of what the film is about… but is that good. It’s like they were trying to land perfectly at mediocre.)

Keyword(s) – fatal attraction; Top Ten by BMeTric: 78.3 Basic Instinct 2 (2006); 70.2 The Boy Next Door (2015); 68.6 Vampire in Brooklyn (1995); 64.5 Body of Evidence (1992); 63.0 Obsessed (2009); 60.1 Sliver (1993); 56.3 Swimfan (2002); 55.8 Eye of the Beholder (1999); 55.2 Queen of the Damned (2002); 49.3 In the Cut (2003);

(I love this keyword. It is now officially my goal that we complete this keyword. They do indeed all qualify, phew!)

Welcome to Earf (HoE Number 27) – The shortest path through The Movie Database cast lists using only BMT films is: Jason Ritter is No. 5 billed in Swimfan and No. 16 billed in The Wicker Man, which also stars Leelee Sobieski (No. 5 billed) who is in Here on Earth (No. 1 billed) => 5 + 16 + 5 + 1 = 27. If we were to watch Hackers, and Mindhunters we can get the HoE Number down to 13.

Notes – The scenes inside Madison’s house are the only ones where a light blue tint was not added to the screen. (Whaaaaaaaa?)

Erika Christensen took cello lessons for three months prior to filming. (WHAAAAAAAA?)

The Guardian (1990) Recap

Jamie

A young LA couple hire a nanny to take care of their young son but, while great with the child, she unfortunately turns out to be a tree spirit monster that literally feeds children to trees. Can they stop her from… feeding their child to a tree before it’s too late? Find out in The Guardian (1990).

How?! After moving to LA and having a baby Kate and Phil decide to hire a nanny so they can both continue to work. After their first choice dies in a tragic and highly suspicious bike accident, Camilla, their second choice, moves in and is wonderful. They seems like quite the cozy family, you know other than the fact that Camilla is in fact a tree witch who sacrifices babies to a tree. Oops. But at least the tree is super far away and hard to get to… oh wait, it’s basically in their backyard. Double oops. When Phil starts to have weird dreams about Camilla and their next door neighbor is killed by a pack of wolves randomly (for real) Phil starts to have some suspicions. It’s only after getting a call from a woman who tells him in great detail exactly how Camilla stole her baby and sacrificed it to a tree does he finally decide that it’s time for her to go. Unfortunately Camilla doesn’t think so and she transforms into a monstrous tree creature and attempts to take the baby against their will. After unsuccessfully trying to kill her by running her over with a car, Phil takes a chainsaw and runs into the forest where he does battle with the tree (I’m seriously not joking. This is real). He’s able to injure the tree enough for Kate to overpower the tree monster witch nanny and send her back to… Hell, I guess. I’m not sure where she’s actually from. THE END.

Why?! It’s become a trend that the motivations of the antagonists are always much more interesting than the main characters. Mostly protagonists do things for justice or love. Same here. Phil and Kate just love their baby. As for the tree nanny, she’s scouring the greater LA area looking for babies that are just on the verge of ripeness (apparently just about four weeks, according to this movie… which by all accounts in the definitive source). At that point she can sacrifice them and the tree gets that sweet baby juice so it can keep living and make Camilla stronger.

Who?! I thought for sure that such a small film wouldn’t have anything of interest for these categories. I was wrong as Def Leppard drummer Frank Noon played one of the wildly stereotypical punks that get killed by the tree (how scary. I super scared of that tree). He’s actually had a long career in TV and film.

What?! I do occasionally like to highlight some specific plot devices these films use when there isn’t anything to note otherwise (and there really isn’t here). I probably should do it more since I’m sure there have been some hilarious Chekhov’s Guns thrown around. Anyway, we do have a pretty solid Deus Ex Machina here as the film spends a long time telling us how amazing the tree monster nanny is at taking care of children to the point where it would be hard to imagine what would make Phil and Kate decide that their wonderful nanny was a tree monster… apparently a call from a stranger who happens to own a Hansel and Gretel children’s book you dreamed about once. Good enough for me, “get the fuck out of here, wonderful nanny! You are clearly a deranged tree monster in disguise. I have been given all the clues needed.”

Where?! As implied above this is a great example of late-80’s, early-90’s Los Angeles, which honestly seems like one of the weirdest places on Earth. These films make it seem like a totally foreign land full of complete weirdos living in crazy houses… about 400 ft from a giant, ancient tree that a nanny feeds babies to. B+

When?! While we can’t get an exact date from it, Phil and Kate do mention that the baby is a Libra and was born in October. Considering a majority of the film takes place between when the baby is 2 and 4 weeks old, we can assume that it’s end of October into November. Part of me thinks that this is probably hinting that the baby will be four weeks just around Halloween… but that’s just me wishing it were so. C+.

I feel like Friedkin fell into all the trapping of a Color of Night and yet somehow made a less ridiculous film, despite basing the entire premise of his film on a nanny that feeds children to trees. It’s literally “what if I made Hansel & Gretel except set in cocaine fueled LA instead?” and yet he swam out of it with a film that is certainly bad, but also has a ton of kinda weird visual stuff going on (which I can appreciate). Pretty easily the worst part of it all is the actual storytelling and acting. Everything seems to just float along until the main character gets a call from someone who is like “your nanny is a tree monster” and he’s like noooooooo, I 100% believe you despite there being no evidence for this being the case and it’s also insane. Then he runs into the forest and has to literally battle nature with a chainsaw and try to cut down her tree before it’s too late. It’s actually kind of amazing in a literal metaphor kind of way. I’m not sure I didn’t kinda dig it. But it’s hard to tell. Patrick?

Patrick

‘Ello everyone! For the second time we’ve watched a film called The Guardian for BMT. This time it was the one with the creepy tree nanny. I know there is nothing scarier than a creepy tree nanny. Let’s go!

P’s View on the Preview – I was actually genuinely excited for this film. It was a genre I traditionally haven’t watched a ton of (horror), and a sub-genre which was very weird (nature horror? Religious horror?), from a director who is known for one of the greatest religious horror films ever (The Exorcist, which I hadn’t seen prior to watching The Guardian either). There was literally no frame of reference going into the film. None.

The Good – I think the fact that mid-way through the film the main character strikes a woman across the face and my reaction wasn’t a shock or horror it was “yeah!” is a testament to Friedkin’s ability to make me think of Seagrove’s character as a non-human monster despite looking like a young woman throughout. I do think that at the very least Friedkin was up to the task even if ultimately the film was a losing effort on his part. The practical effects at times were also decent.

The Bad – The film looks cheap, and has cheap acting (beyond, I think, Seagrove). While eerie the film still falls short. First by resorting to kind of gorey nonsense horror, and later by not pulling out the cool makeup effect earlier and instead using the (fairly weak) wolf scene. For something like this you don’t really have to be scary, but it just wasn’t very spooky at all. Even the idea of a nanny who manages to get away with giving fake references twice (at least) from same company where a baby went missing months prior just doesn’t really fly.

The BMT – Eh I don’t think so. I’ll certainly add it to my horror film repertoire, but I don’t think this is a BMT film really. I think we’ll get to that more in the awards predictions as well. There just is not very much meat on the bone. The film is honestly a bit too good in some respects, definitely a bit too weird and interesting, for me to call someone up and tell them to watch this bad movie. There is very little reason to watch this as a bad movie in the end, unless you are a huuuuuge Friedkin-head.

Roast-radamus – There is a very tiny Setting as a Character (Where?) here for Los Angeles. I wish I could say it was a secret holiday film, but despite taking place around Halloween (the baby was an October baby they say, and is only two weeks old) there is no actual evidence of that fact in the film. Does the tree count as a MacGuffin … I don’t think so, because people aren’t trying to obtain it, it doesn’t really drive the plot. The very tiny setting is really it, I don’t think it gets a Good, Bad, or BMT nod in the end. See, the film really brings very little to the table.

StreetCreditReport.com – First I will just say this film has at least some cred. It was on an end of the year worst of list for Siskel and Ebert. So a reviewer watched this film and thought “that was terrible”. Otherwise I can find no evidence this film exists let alone was considered bad at the time. In my defense though, it is basically impossible to search for The Guardian as it is the name of a giant British tabloid.

Good Movie Twins – Prior to The Guardian I had seen Friedkin’s The French Connection, which I quite liked. But I had never seen The Exorcist. So I popped that in and I have to say I loved it. The film takes on a 70s style as you would expect, the story initially just follows the daily lives of our characters to lend insight into their personalities, which has been how I tend to feel 70s cinema operated from my limited experience. The young priest is very compelling, a conflicted man who loses his mother and is in crisis just as he is enlisted to battle a demon on Earth. Linda Blair and especially Ellen Burstyn were amazing. Bringing a religious horror element up against a very (almost overly) scientific analysis of Regan is a crux of many horror films to this day, specifically in J-Horror where demons and spirits often exploit or inhabit the newly technological world we live in. You can see elements of The Exorcist in The Guardian as well, just from a pagan perspective instead. There the modern yuppie culture is infiltrated by the ancient almost unknowable evil that is Camilla and they do battle with what sometimes feels like nature itself. Consider the storyline in which Camilla wants Kate to continue breastfeeding Jake instead of using formula. Nature versus the modern sensibilities of child-rearing. It kind of makes me wish the end of the film was Phil hacking the tree apart with an ax, an idea of returning to a more natural state (an ax instead of a chainsaw) to destroy the natural evil that is the tree. Horror films are great.

Cheerios,

The Sklogs

The Guardian (1990) Quiz

Oh man. Last night I go soooooo drunk, and then woke up naked in a tree. It was real strange. I vaguely remember The Guardian had the same storyline, it must have been hilarious. Can you help me remember?

Pop Quiz Hot Shot!

1) In the beginning we see the creeeeeepy nanny taking care of two children, a young boy and a newborn baby, while their parents go off for the weekend. What story is the young boy reading?

2) Months later we meet a young advertising writer, Phil, and his wife Kate newly arrived in Los Angeles for a job opportunity. Where did they live previously?

3) This young couple decides to have a baby, and in the meantime also make some very good friends. Phil’s two bosses come over for dinner parties, but also Ned Runcie who lives nearby and has taken a shine to their nanny Camilla. What unique relationship does the couple have with Ned?

4) The climax of the film comes when Phil receives two messages on his answering machine concerning the nanny. What were these messages?

5) During the film how many people do we see the tree / nanny kill?

Answers

The Guardian (1990) Preview

Hats backward and cargo shorts a-baggin’, Rich and Poe skateboard their way to the Italiano Arcade & Pizzeria to smash on some video games and eat some ‘za. They immediately own a bunch of middle schoolers in Super Mario Bros 3 like some video game wizards and make their way to the top of the social pyramid. There are some dope tweens around, but they are by far the dopest. “Haven’t seen you two around here before. You guys sure can whiz on the j-stick,” one of the kids say, “they call me Toad, who are you?” Rich steps up, “I’m Big M and this is my bro LJ. We’d mash the ‘cade all day, but our Granny is a real lamester. You chilling me?” Toad nods and laughs while Poe tries not to cry. That’s his beloved Granny they’re talking about. Nobody calls her a lamester. Rich continues, “but maybe that’s not the worst thing, you feelz? We heard some real slippery things going on around here.” Toad looks a bit nervous, “Yeah, real canopy thang. But it’s just Elivira, the new nanny. Everyone else is icy.” Rich and Poe look at each other. Elvira? That doesn’t sound like Gruber. They looks around but Poe can’t see anyone that looks suspicious. “Rich, I don’t think this is working… Rich?” Rich is staring off into the distance. The crowds part between him and the most beautiful woman in the world. She flips her golden hair to the side and beckons to him. He floats towards her… the seductive and super creepy nanny who looks both ageless and yet thousands of years old. His mind is telling him to resist, but he has eyes only for this scary witch nanny and the creepy tree she’s sitting in. Wait, what? That’s right! You knew right from the start when I was talking about witch nannies and creepy trees that there was only one film I could be talking about. Let’s say it all together. The Guardian (1990). Of course. That film that everyone knows. Well at least one person knew about it and his name was Roger Ebert and he hated this film. In fact he said it was one of the worst he had ever seen. Good enough for us. Let’s go!

The Guardian (1990) – BMeTric: 31.9

TheGuardianIMDb_BMeT

TheGuardianIMDb_RV

(The rating feels really low for a film from the early 90s and for a film I’ve never heard of. Even after the regression that is pretty astonishing. It really must be a terrible horror film. Getting a little excited here.)

Leonard Maltin – 2 stars –  Yuppie couple hires a nanny for their newborn child, but we know there’s something odd about her: she feeds babies to a tree in a nearby gully. Friedkin’s first return to horror after The Exorcist has a few good scenes, but a ludicrous story and a hormorless approach. Seagrove is very good in an almost unplayable role. Cowritten by the director from the novel The Nanny by Dan Greenburg.

(I probably knew this was based on a book and forgot to be honest. Everything in this preview is about Friedkin. He really squandered a lot of his good will by 1990 it seems. He only really directed sporadically after 1985.)

Trailer – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kbl1b664ivk/

(‘Member the Exorcist? Me too … member that thing where William Friedkin was the director … cool me too.’ I literally have no idea what this film is about or what it is beyond a horror film made by the director of the Exorcist. Should I watch the Exorcist then? It feels like a good extra homework assignment.)

Directors – William Friedkin – (Known For: The Exorcist; The French Connection; Killer Joe; To Live and Die in L.A.; Cruising; Sorcerer; Bug; The Boys in the Band; Rampage; The Brink’s Job; Future BMT: Jade; Deal of the Century; The Hunted; Blue Chips; Rules of Engagement; BMT: The Guardian; Razzie Notes: Nominee for Worst Director, and Worst Screenplay for Cruising in 1981; Notes: Given he directed The Exorcist it might be surprising to know he grew up Jewish, became agnostic, and then is clearly a Christian in some capacity given recent quotes.)

Writers – Dan Greenburg (novel & screenplay) – (Future BMT: Private Lessons; BMT: The Guardian; Notes: Was married to Nora Ephron ages ago. His son was the kid in Lorenzo’s Oil.)

Stephen Volk (screenplay) – (Known For: The Awakening; Gothic; Future BMT: Octane; BMT: The Guardian; Notes: Famously wrote and directed Ghostwatch, a fake documentary which played on the BBC which confused a bunch of people who thought it was real. It was banned from replay for a decade.)

William Friedkin (screenplay) – (Known For: To Live and Die in L.A.; Cruising; Rampage; BMT: The Guardian; Razzie Notes: Nominee for Worst Director, and Worst Screenplay for Cruising in 1981; Notes: Cruising was considered by many as anti-gay, and the film was protested by the gay community at the time of production)

Actors – Jenny Seagrove – (Known For: Local Hero; Another Mother’s Son; Moonlighting; Future BMT: Run for Your Wife; BMT: The Guardian; Notes: Long time partner of Bill Kenwright who is an actor and … the chairman of Everton F.C. since 2004? Still works as an actress, although not as often.)

Dwier Brown – (Known For: Field of Dreams; House; Red Dragon; Gettysburg; To Live and Die in L.A.; The Cutting Edge; Reunion; Future BMT: House II: The Second Story; Mom and Dad Save the World; BMT: The Guardian; Notes: If you’re racking your brain trying to figure out who he was in Field of Dreams, he was Kevin Costner’s father at the end.)

Carey Lowell – (Known For: Leaving Las Vegas; Licence to Kill; Sleepless in Seattle; Fierce Creatures; Future BMT: Club Paradise; Love Affair; BMT: The Guardian; Notes: You’d know her from Law & Order, she was on the order side of things, as a DA.)

Budget/Gross – N/A / Domestic: $17,037,887

(Probably not great … although you could make these things for less than a million around this point in time, so maybe it turned as profit.)

#233 for the Horror – R-Rated genre

guardian_rratedhorror

(It feels like this came at a peak of the genre in the late eighties. Kind of went on a bit of a hiatus after. Still having a moment now, especially with It Part 2 coming out this year, should be good for R-rated horror.)

Rotten Tomatoes – 22% (2/9): No Consensus

(Nice I get to make a consensus: Hysterically funny … wait, it was supposed to be a horror film? Reviewer Highlight: Maybe after years of banging his head against the system Friedkin decided with “The Guardian” to make a frankly commercial exploitation film. … give us a break. – Roger Ebert, Chicago Sun-Times)

Poster – The Guardian Not Starring Kevin Costner (B+)

guardian

(Too many words and the image itself is a bit small, but I’m digging the simplicity of it and the coloring. The font isn’t the worst either. Good effort.)

Tagline(s) – Tonight, while the world is asleep… an ancient evil is about to awaken. (F)

(I literally don’t understand this… when? Tonight? Is that like… when I’m watching the movie or is the film set over a single night during which the ancient evil awakens? Neither? Cool cool cool. Just one more thing. Would it have mattered if that ancient evil awoke while everyone was awake? No? Interesting.)

Keyword(s) – baby; Top Ten by BMeTric: 92.6 Date Movie (2006); 92.1 Son of the Mask (2005); 91.0 Scary Movie 5 (2013); 84.0 Baby Geniuses (1999); 76.3 Junior (1994); 75.9 In the Land of Blood and Honey (2011); 74.7 Jason Goes to Hell: The Final Friday (1993); 73.9 Look Who’s Talking Too (1990); 70.6 The Animal (2001); 69.0 Texas Chainsaw 3D (2013);

(Shit. I have to watch The Animal for a third time. Maybe Jamie will appreciate it more given it stars someone from Survivor. [Editor’s Note: I will])

Welcome to Earf (HoE Number 24) – The shortest path through The Movie Database cast lists using only BMT films is: Xander Berkeley is No. 10 billed in The Guardian and No. 6 billed in Seeking Justice, which also stars Nicolas Cage (No. 1 billed) who is in The Wicker Man (No. 1 billed), which also stars Leelee Sobieski (No. 5 billed) who is in Here on Earth (No. 1 billed) => 10 + 6 + 1 + 1 + 5 + 1 = 24. If we were to watch Savage Islands we can get the HoE Number down to 15.

Notes – Jenny Seagrove was unhappy with the film’s constant re-writes, and wanted to make a completely different film. She said to The Guardian in 2007: “It was about this druid nanny who became a tree. I begged Universal to make it about a real nanny who kidnaps babies. ‘No, no, we can’t do that,’ they said, ‘the thirty somethings in America won’t come and see the film.’ I said, ‘I think you’re completely wrong; this film is total fantasy, and it’s just awful.’ Two years later The Hand That Rocks the Cradle (1992) was released, so I rang up my friend at Universal and he said, ‘Don’t. Don’t even talk about it, you were right.’ ” (haha)

Was to originally be directed by Sam Raimi, but he left the project early to direct Darkman (1990). Producers brought in William Friedkin, and the project suffered through several re-writes sending co-writer Stephen Volk into a breakdown. Friedkin eventually took over the writing duties. (oooooooooooof)

William Friedkin’s first horror movie in seventeen years since The Exorcist (1973). (Maybe a mistake)

One of only two feature films that William Friedkin wrote nothing about, positive or negative, in his memoir The Friedkin Connection (see also Deal of the Century (1983)).

A new effects crew was brought onto the scene after the initial tree failed to work mechanically. The new team constructed a tree that held 500 gallons of fake blood and detachable bark. (oh no, haha)

The delivery scene used real footage of an actual live birth. (oh no … I would just say haha here, but that would feel redundant)

The film was released three years after its source novel “The Nanny” by Dan Greenburg had been published in 1987. (Fact: I did not read this book)

The movie’s dark villain, Camilla (Jenny Seagrove), is included in the compilation film Boogeymen: The Killer Compilation (2001).

A cable television version of the film is not billed to William Friedkin, but to Alan Smithee, a generic name which is used by directors when they don’t want to be associated with a picture. This, despite the fact that Friedkin claims on the film’s audio-commentary he never heard of such a version. There are two versions of “The Guardian”: the theatrical cut, credited to Friedkin, and a modified cut, credited to Smithee. The Smithee cut has never been released on home video or DVD, and has only been shown on cable. It includes new scenes, including another scene in the hospital, different dream sequences, a scene of the nanny waking the wife up and alternate angles for other scenes. Also, the ending of the cable cut is different and omits much of the gore. (Oh wow, that is kind of cool. They cut a version and clearly didn’t ask him about it. Sounds like we can’t get it though)

Chicago Sun-Times movie critic Roger Ebert named the picture one of his “Most Hated Films” of all-time. (Noice, it is on his end of the year worst of list so …)

One of three movies with “The Guardian” title made during the modern era of Hollywood. This supernatural horror movie was made and released around six years after the 1984 action crime thriller The Guardian (1984) and sixteen years before the sea rescue drama The Guardian (2006). (We have now watched two for BMT. Martin Sheen’s 1984 film doesn’t have any reviews. That sounds like I have to cook up 5 fake reviews to get this onto Rotten Tomatoes …)