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!

Jul 17, 2014

Coven Lovin'

My movie coat is a coat of many feelings. Love, hate, super love, wicked hate, ambivalence...every time I watch a film, I add another technicolor dreampatch to this hideous emotional trenchcoat of mine. The rarest patches of all– the ones made of human skin (just kidding, they're actually velour), the ones that I sew in ever-so-rarely– represent the movies that make me feel happy to be alive. Chock full of joie de vivre! You know how it is, life is a drag. People get sick, you lose your job, there's never enough money, it's too hot, it's too cold, all of a sudden you remember that the Macarena was a thing, and every day is just another day without Ecto Cooler. Then you see a bitchin' sunset or whatever, or you see a movie like Bay Cove (1987) and you feel the power of FUCK YEAH coursing through your veins, and "La Vida Loca" is stuck in your head for the rest of the day.

If you're dubious as to how it's possible that Bay Cove gets me all kinds of feelin' that way, then hang on to your bloomers because I'm about to lay it down. It's really very simple: Bay Cove is a made-for-TV movie about witches. Witches, of course, are vastly underrepresented in horror and so whenever I catch the slightest whiff o' witch (smells like peppermint!) I'm automatically on board. Throw "made-for-TV" into the mix and I'm so much more on board that I become the board. But Bay Cove doesn't stop there, oh no. The hits, they just keep comin'!

Pamela Sue Martin- yes, Nancy Drew herself! Fallon Carrington Colby herself!- stars as Linda Lebon, a hotshot young Boston attorney in desperate need of an Alberto VO5 Hot Oil Treatment. Linda's got it all: a hunky hubby (Jerry, played by Tim Matheson), a new work promotion, a pretty cute dog, and a cool city apartment. You know the kind: lofts and modified lofts, full of all sorts of clean lines and crazy crap. The crazy crap in Linda's case is a saxophone in the corner; sadly, it's never played. And boy do I mean "sadly" because lawd a-mighty I wanted to see Pamela Sue Martin play the saxophone.

You know what, though, Jerry doesn't feel like he has it all. Sure, he's got the apartment and the wife and the dog and the saxophone and his own contracting company. But now that he's a "boss" he spends too much time in suits and not enough time working with his hands. His dissatisfaction makes him particularly susceptible to the idea of a more rustic lifestyle, just like the one pitched by new friends Josh and Debbi (Jeff Conaway and Susan Ruttan) (I'm telling you, this movie never stops with the delightfulness). Devlin Island is great! they said. It's remote and peaceful! they said. Well, it will be a long daily commute for Linda and she'll have to rely on a ferry which will surely suck come winter, but I don't care, let's buy a house! Jerry said. And so buy a house they did, from the recently widowed Beatrice (Barbara Billingsley) (THIS MOVIE). You'll be happy to know that Jerry and Linda bring the saxophone to the new house. You'll be sad to know that still, no one ever plays it.

When Beatrice is all "I'm selling you my house, but I'm going to continue to live 15 feet away in the back house, and also I will walk in and out of your new house as often as I please," Linda should have slung that sax right over her shoulder and caught the next ferry right back to the mainland, but as you'd expect, she doesn't.

Actually, all of Bay Cove plays out exactly as you'd expect. The bulk of the movie consists of Linda gettin' her Nancy Drew on and discovering clues that point to the true nature of her new neighbors, but then the witches change those clues so Linda looks crazy. There's a scene, for example, where Linda finds incontrovertible evidence that a neighbor is actually 300 years old: grey hair dye! He's got to dye his hair to look older, see? But when Linda shows the bottle to Jerry, it's changed to brown hair dye. What the heck! Is Linda just breaking under all the strain of the new house and increased workload at the law firm? Nope. The people you think are witches are actually witches, the people you think are going to be vulnerable to or doomed by the witches end up totally vulnerable to and doomed by the witches.

Yes, the familiarity runs strong in this one, with hints of Dead and Buried, Rosemary's Baby, The Wicker Man, and The Stepford Wives throughout. That's not to say it's off-putting or boring; rather, it feels like reuniting with an old pal. And let's face it, a world without a movie featuring Barbara Billingsley, Susan Ruttan, Jeff Conaway, and Inga Swenson of television's Benson as a coven of robe-clad witches is not a world in which I want to live.

There's a brief showdown (complete with Dracula's Castle-style organ music) and Bay Cove ends like all the best made-for-TV movies do: incredibly abruptly. You're in the middle of some action and BAM, end credits. You'll be left wondering how Linda is going to explain everything to the police (oh, spoiler, she lives) and what it was, exactly, that the witches were after. They say they want to continue livin' la vida immortal, but that can't be right. Who wants to live on a tiny island with the same 12 people all up in your business forever? That sounds like a nightmare to me. Although, gimme a DVD copy of Bay Cove and I might think about it, not gonna lie. Pamela Sue Martin vs. Barbara Billingsley with a pentagram around her neck? Viva la vida!


1 comment:

Unknown said...

I loved "Bay Cove". I watched in tv when i was around 15 years. In Spain, they used to play tv movies early in the afternoon, usually based on true events dramas (scary enough, but also pretty boring a lot of times), and then suddenly something like "bay cove" showed up and it was extra-scary. I saw it recently and I have to admit I was a little dissapointed, but it was still cool and love the all tv-stars cast (and woody harrelson pre-movie star). I remember another tv movie around that time "The Stranger Within" directed by Tom Holland. It was a pre-"Hand That Rocks The Cradle" thriller with a slasher atmosphere that also stood up in those tv movies afternoons. I also saw it recently and in my opinion it's still pretty effective.