FINAL GIRL explores the slasher flicks of the '70s and '80s...and all the other horror movies I feel like talking about, too. This is life on the EDGE, so beware yon spoilers!

Jan 10, 2007

Children Hate You Week: Day 3

Stupid lying DVD box! You had me thinking that the titular boy of Cameron's Closet (1989) was going to wreak some psychic-ass havoc, tying in perfectly with my theme this week...but noooooo. Cameron has to be all cute and sweet and needs to be saved and shit. Cameron doesn't hate anyone! What gives, dammit? I mean, I know enough not to believe the copy when it tells me I'll be in for "the scare of a lifetime!" or whatever, and I certainly don't pay attention to the quotes from some critic at a TV station you've never heard of promising a "white knuckle rollercoaster ride of thrills you'll never forget!", but I do read the boxes for wee plot synopses so I know what I'm going to watch- especially for a theme week. Who wants to hear about a Children Hate You movie wherein the Child Does Not Hate? Bah!

Well, maybe it's my fault. Maybe I picked up the box, saw it was about a telekinetic child, and figured he must be evil. Then I got stars in my eyes over the names listed on the box: it's directed by Armand Mastroianni, he who directed He Knows You're Alone! It stars Leigh McCloskey of Dallas and Kim Lankford of Knot's Landing! It's almost too perfect! Sigh. You know, some day my love of nighttime soaps of yesteryear is going to really get me trouble.

OK, I can't imagine a scenario where a love of nighttime soaps of yesteryear would get anyone into trouble whatsoever, nevermind "really" getting someone in trouble, but it's delicious to contemplate.

I digress.

Cameron (Scott Curtis) is like any other average kid: his parents are divorced, he plays with action figures in his closet, he has a bowl haircut, and he's been subjected to odd psychic experiments at the hands of his dad (Tab Hunter) and his dad's research partner, Ben (Chuck McCann). It seems Cameron has some powerful telekinetic abilities, enough that his dad seems a bit...dare I say...afraid of him. And what are those weird noises emanating from the closet? We dont exactly know yet- but dad ends up meeting the business end of a floating machete. Maybe Cameron is evil after all- hooray!

With dad dispatched, Cameron goes to live with mom Dory (Kim Lankford) and her actor-cum-Cadillac owner boyfriend Bob. Mom's a chain-smoking, booze-swilling broad who loves to get down!

Though she's essentially well-meaning, Dory is also oblivious to Bob's all-too-familiar "sleazy stepdad" routine. He's still just her boyfriend, but Bob makes it clear to Cameron that he intends to marry Dory, and Cameron better watch out! Boy, the way Cameron is all quiet and unassuming, no wonder Bob needs to bully him and let him know who's boss! Once he gets too close to Cameron's closet, however, it's Bob who finds out who's the boss's not Tony Danza, it's not Judith Light, and it's certainly not Bob. It's...

...a big rubber monster who lives in the closet. Bob gets his eyes burned out and defenestrated in a spectacular fashion, landing atop his beloved Caddy in a bit of poetic justice.

Meanwhile, detective Sergeant Sam Taliaferro (Cotter Smith) has been having terrible recurring nightmares that are seriously becoming increasingly detrimental to his job performance. Reluctantly, he goes to see police shrink Nora Haley (Mel Harris of television's thirtysomething) to sort out his problems. As luck would have it, they're both assigned to The Mysterious Case of the Death of Bob!

As our fearless duo slowly pieces together the mystery of Cameron's Closet, there's more monster-related shenanigans and deaths, including that of Sam's partner Pete (Leigh McCloskey). This made me sad- I wanted more Leigh McCloskey! He was on Dallas, dammit! But no, the heavens are against me. Leigh McCloskey is not the lead detective in the movie, and Leigh McCloskey is dead. Fie thee, Cameron's Closet...fie thee.

So what does our fearless duo discover? It turns out that Cameron's psychic abilities brought a demon over from Demonland. Said demon is living in the closet, gathering strength until the day when he can overcome Cameron's powers and take over the world! Mua ha ha, indeed.

Thankfully, however, Cameron gets his Emperor Palpatine on and has a "spectacular" showdown with the demon in pure 80's Spencer's Gifts fashion.

OK, so Cameron's Closet doesn't fit in with my criteria for Children Hate You Week at all. Cameron doesn't use his magical mind powers for nefarious purposes, much to my chagrin- he's a victim! He's a hero! Bah! Who needs it?

That said, I liked the movie well enough. It's got the plot from an episode of Tales from the Darkside or Buffy, the Vampire Slayer. Inadvertently resurrected demons? Psychic powers? yeah, that's Buffy all right. All that's missing are the cute people and the zingy one-liners.

The deaths are surprisingly bloody and there's many a gooey, reanimated corpse to be found here. The biggest problem is that damn demon- I mean, take a look at that picture up there. Once your evil monster is revealed and it's obviously made of rubber (not to mention that it resembles a phallus with sharp teeth and light-up eyes), well, your movie's only going to be so successful, you know? Again, I didn't think the movie was bad, despite the rubber monster and the Spencer Gifts finale. It's one of those B-Movies that's prime rainy-Sunday-afternoon viewing. I give it 5.75 out of 10 less moppet, more murder, pleases.


John Barleycorn said...

That monster looks like a prototype for that thingy in the hallway in Hellraiser.

I need to go back to writing school.

Anonymous said...

I haven't seen it, but I did read the book (written by Gary The Howling Brandner hisownself) that it was based on and the movies sounds like it's more than a bit different.

Anonymous said...

Wow Stacy,
I'm surprised all the nighttime melodrama actors didn't push it to a hard 6 or at least a 7.
This was made for TV, right?

Stacie Ponder said...

Chadwick- yeah, Brandner wrote the screenplay too. It might make a decent book...I'm curious about the differences.

2nd- Well, it's weird. I enjoyed the flick to an extent, but it really wasn't very good and I was maybe a little harsh in the rating. And the nighttime actors- well, Leigh McCloskey wasn't in it much for starters. If this flick featured...I don't know, Larry Hagman and Josie Bissett, then it would've been an 8! :D

I don't THINK it was made for TV, but I could be wrong. I believe, however, that it's rated R- it's pretty gory in parts.

Anonymous said...

"I'm curious about the differences."

So am I, I've only read the book and that was almost 20 years ago. (Eghads, I'm getting OLD!!!) There are only a few things I remember about it: 1) Cameron's closet seemed to contain some kind of dimensional portal, through which the demon came, 2) Cameron had a jerky older brother (or stepbrother) that makes the mistake of playing inside the closet, and 3)the hero (a tough cop) and heroine (a social worker) play a game of Scrabble and make cute with each other while doing so. For some reason I think that last part isn't in the movie. ;)

Anonymous said...

Why does the Phallic Closet monster remind me of the microphone part to the old Snake Mountain playset from the He-Man toys?

Amanda By Night said...

Ah, Leight McCloskey. I do love him so.

I remember trying to watch this one night and turning it off after his character is killed. I was like, "Look, he made it all the way through Fraternity Vacation AND Just One of the Guys, so I'll watch one of those."

It was a protest of sorts, I suppose.

Anonymous said...

Chuck McCann?!?!


Anonymous said...

I saw this this movie on the USA Network years ago and thought that it was good, but that demon look terrible. Carlo Rambaldi did the effects, and thats one of the worst monsters he's made.

Anonymous said...

Scott Curtis is my husband, so the movie totally freaked me out!

barthy said...

I liked it!

There was only one thing that disappointed me about the movie: When Dr. Nora went to put the tape in the VCR, the time on the VCR was not flasing 12:00. It had the correct time on it. I mean, how fake is that! :)

Anonymous said...

I read the book not too long ago, actually. As I recall, the Monster in the Closet was (kinda/sorta) the ghost of Cameron's brother (or, at least, an imaginary version of him that existed in Cameron's mind). He was the one their dad had originally experimented on.

I also don't recall the detective having gone to see the therapist.. I think she was just a social worker assigned to the boy's case, and they got to know each other that way.

Anyway.. the cop's childhood imaginary friend shows up and helps save everyone from the Monster at the end, so you gotta love that!