If the thought of the steel toed Holland Taylor taking over for the unrivaled Ethel Barrymore in matriarchal duties fills your heart with glee – as it should – then the 2000 television film reimagining of The Spiral Staircase will be right up your alley.
This third full length adaptation of Ethel Lina White’s classic Some Must Watch emphasizes the horrific elements of this piece. Revolving around a killer obsessed with handicapped women, its participants are now decidedly stranded on a sheltered island during a powerful storm. Thus, Taylor has much atmosphere to work with as she fills Barrymore’s boots portraying the rich and secretive Mrs. Warren. Joined by gorgeous nighttime soap mainstay Nicolette Sheridan (as her mute nurse) and former glamour boys Judd Nelson and Alex McArthur (Madonna’s Papa Don’t Preach video), Taylor simply and subtly steals the show here.
Appreciatively, screenwriter Matt Dorff applies some new twists, allowing fans of the other versions to surprised by the revelation of the culprit (or culprits) here. Granted, the 1975 theatrical offering with Jacqueline Bissett may have been a bit more gruesome in its displays of violence, but this version does feature some nicely shadowy malevolence and makes crashing use of its titular inspiration in the final moments of this much adapted piece of gothic horror.
Until the next time, SWEET love and pink GRUE, Big Gay Horror Fan!