From 1980 to 1982, our amazing Wonder Woman (and frequent concert songstress) Lynda Carter committed herself to three television films with some horrifying plotlines. In honor of her socially concentrated efforts to Get Out The Vote in this incredibly important (and often truly scary) 2020 Presidential Election, I thought it would be the perfect time to place a ballot of greatness – or great campiness, as the case sometimes allows – for her efforts in these celluloid idiot box offerings.
1980. In The Last Song, Carter is a singer whose sound engineer husband captures a conversation about a terrible environmental plot when he is out recording sound samples one night. Soon, a group of volatile men break into Carter’s home and brutally beat (especially for Movie of the Week standards) her unknowing husband to death. While this scene has its uncommonly intense moments, it is the sequence where Carter is visited by a concerned ‘priest’ after her husband’s funeral that a truly giggly-gruesome quality enters the proceedings. Almost immediately, Nicholas Pryor (Damien: Omen 2) allows his character to go from glazed benevolence to wide-eyed craziness. In a truly sadistically frightening performance, Pryor forces (the equally acute) Carter to suck frantically from a gas mask in an effort to kill her. Carter’s terror filled eyes and Pryor’s sweaty leering are reminiscent of Dennis Hopper and Isabella Rossellini in Blue Velvet. The scene is truly a sickly-sweet wonder.
1981. Born to be Sold. Here Carter, playing social worker Kate Carlin, actually delivers Donna Wilke’s (Angel, Blood Song, Schizoid, Grotesque) baby in her bedroom in a satisfying moment of hair flopping, over the top exhaustion. Later, Carter is leered at in a bathroom mirror by a greasy, incredibly sleazy Dean Stockwell. It’s not quite as intense as the freak out that Pryor gives our favored damsel in The Last Song, but the addition of genre favorite Sharon Farrell in the cast here evens out the odds a little.
1982. Hotline is the best of the three in many ways – an adult slasher film that also predates Quentin Tarantino’s Death Proof with its focus on a (mild spoiler alert!) broken down psychotic former stunt man.
Carter’s Brianne (pronounced ‘Brian’) is a bartender, artist and hotline call center volunteer. Soon after starting her civic minded duties, she begins to get mysterious phone calls providing her with clues to a series of violent murders – all implicating a movie star acquaintance of hers. Of course, nothing is as it seems and in the final moments of this TV-movie-gone-chopping, Carter finds herself hacked (the killer loves to give jaggedly possessed haircuts) and attacked. There are few genuinely chilling moments in this penultimate altercation – including the shady reveal of the killer decorated in mafia clown make-up (think Dennis Christopher in Fade to Black) as he works his way to Carter.
Hotline also affords meaty roles to some former Hollywood character actors including Steve Forrest (the supernaturally tinged The Hanged Man), Monte Markham and Granville Van Dusen. Nods to authenticity are also provided by featuring stuntman/actors such as Frank Stallone in a party sequence with Forrest and Markham making this a bit more than just a fond remembrance for those who caught it as freshmen in high school on CBS’ Saturday Night Movie.
…and if the divine Ms. Carter hasn’t proven herself to be a rock ‘n roll survivor to all of you in the above reminisces…
Until the next time…get out and vote…and SWEET love and pink GRUE, Big Gay Horror Fan!