One of the greatest TV horror films is called “Bad Ronald,” and it’s so good it reminds me of “Psycho.” It’s about a nerdy, creepy teen (played by Scott Jacoby) who, after accidentally killing a little girl, is instructed by his mother (Kim Hunter) to live in a secret room in their Victorian house. She dies and Dabney Coleman (then a brunette with a full head of hair) and his family move in. Ronald (the creepy teen murderer) must avoid detection by this new family by sneaking around for munchies while they’re asleep. He eventually causes a few more people to die and becomes fixated on the family’s young hot daughters,. He has an unhealthy obsession with fantasy, you see, and when life fails to live up to his fantasies, he gets mad. And deadly.
Why is this such a good TV horror film? Ronald is a genuinely interesting character. He’s nerdy and initially somewhat likeable, and we can see he didn’t have to turn out so badly. His mother’s well-meaning plan of hiding him ends up driving him mad. What’s interesting is how this 1974 film is able to imply so much while showing virtually nothing. We know Ronald’s a perv, for example, even though we never see it. By the extremely abrupt ending, we feel we have genuinely watched the descent of a young man into violence and psychosis. “Bad Ronald” is available on DVD through Warner Brothers Archive for about $15. Don’t miss it!
If there’s one movie you’re not supposed to like this year, it’s “The Assignment.” If you’re a member of the LGBT community, you’re supposed to be offended by its mere existence. If you’re the regular average Joe, the themes of sex change combined with copious male and female nudity will offend. Conversely, we at GROIN kind of like it! “The Assignment” (2016) is the new film by Walter Hill, a consistently good director whose work includes “The Warriors” and “Streets of Fire.” Perhaps dissatisfied with well-crafted but non-distinctive recent work like “Bullet to the Head,” Hill has opted to make the first action flick (that I know of) about a sex change.
Sigourney Weaver plays a brilliant, quite mad doctor who wants revenge for the death of her estranged brother. Frank Kitchen (played by Michelle Rodriguez) is a super-macho gangster who committed the crime and is about to get the surprise of his life. He is now a she, and will have to discover his feminine side as he enacts bloody revenge for an operation he never wanted. Meanwhile, the audience gets graphic male and female nudity so we are convinced that Frank is authentically male and female.
This movie kind of trashes the SF Tenderloin District lifestyle in its immorality and seediness. In between scenes there are comic book like jump cuts reminiscent of his earlier classic The Warriors. The antagonists include mad plastic surgeons, psychiatrists, Chinamen Mafioso types, and dive bar trolls. The best thing is the quick pace of the film, and the high number of action sequences. The film’s use of SF as a dark backdrop of societal collapse is effective. This movie subversively does not give the gay lifestyle a pass. As such, it is a brave film.
We are supposed to be offended, apparently, that Frank didn’t want the operation and doesn’t like being female. I was more interested in the performances of Rodriguez and Weaver. Rodriguez, who was also good in “Girlfight,” is convincing as the transgender protagonist. We believe her as both sexes, and we also believe she is tough and unhappy. For Weaver, this is her best work since the 1990’s. Proclaiming her superiority to all of mankind and outraged that more people don’t know Shakespeare and Poe front and backwords , she is the most memorable antagonist in a long time. Rent it to sneer and watch it to gasp, because “The Assignment” is the rare B-action flick that doesn’t suck.