Fans of that old Robin Hitchcock song "My Wife and My Dead Wife" should enjoy this domestic thriller, which first aired on the Lifetime Channel, cable TV’s Siberia for aging actresses who refuse to get botox injections. Soap opera refugee Barbara Niven plays a single parent who moves into a new house with her father, a retired prosecutor who is unofficially back on the job once he finds out the domicile’s previous tenant was murdered. Murdered in the study. With a knife. Former Must-See Thursday star Daniel J. Travanti looks older and frailer than Frasier’s dad here, but his grim-faced reaction shots keep the suspense moving while Niven is too busy falling in love with the hunky lady-killer next door (Gary Hudson). He’s a real cut-up (heh heh) once his meltdown begins, flying off the handle whenever his dead wife pops up unannounced like Endora on Bewitched — and no man likes it when you joke about impotency, especially in a chick flick. Note: Lionsgate is really leading the witness here with its bloodbath DVD artwork — you’ve probably spilled more globins in a shaving mishap than you’ll see in all this murderous spree, but it’s heartening to know Lifetime’s plunging full gore into the supernatural-slasher-suburbia genre. All that’s missing is a referral if you’d like to learn more about psychopathic serial killers at the end. —Serene Dominic
The Virgin of Juarez
Lantern Kane Home Entertainment
"Based on a true story," but with so many liberties taken. This indie, recently presented at the New York International Latino Film Festival, deals with the real-life violent rapes and murders of young working women in the Mexican town of Cuidad Juarez. Minnie Driver stars as a pushy reporter who goes to the border town to write about the unsolved mysteries and chances upon a girl who saw the Virgin Mary during her rape and now experiences stigmatas when she gets nervous, rendering her useless at job interviews. No, seriously, she’s a bleedin’ icon to the families of the victims, and things take a weirder turn when she’s protected by an L.A. street gang (probably the Bloods) and the church obstructs the police investigation because she’s more valuable as a symbol of hope than a victim. This is the kind of movie vehicle Barbara Streisand would’ve picked for herself, if she were only 20 years too old to play the role instead of 40. —Serene Dominic
Jekyll + Hyde
Robert Louis Stevenson must no longer be required reading in our schools — how else can you explain med school students not breaking a sweat when there’s a schizoid named Jekyll in their midst? Fixing to do for Bobby Lou what Romeo + Juliet did for Willie B., this modernized Dr. Jekyll wants a new drug, one that won’t make him sick … and homicidal! Unlike previous Mr. Hydes, actor Bryan Fisher doesn’t take out the hideous makeup case after taking his bad medicine — like the original Nutty Professor, he sheds his reading glasses, musses his hair slightly, turns into Buddy Love to do two chicks at the same time, and kills the occasional drifter to maintain his erection on the way to the party. An effective don’t-do-drugs commercial for the kids, this film unwittingly reinforces other disturbing teen truisms — girls dig creepy guys who won’t return their calls, girls won’t shag nice guys who fit the "just good friends" M.O., and, judging by some of the online chat forums about Messer’s J & H, they can find gritty realism in a film where the only people over 30 are the bartender and the morgue attendant. —Serene Dominic Send comments to firstname.lastname@example.org
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