Monday, April 14, 2008

Worth Your Valuable Time (Sort Of)

The ten-year-old version of myself thought this movie was scary as shit. As it turns out, after watching it over the weekend, Girlfriend and I have determined that the ten-year-old version of C-dog was a total pussy and, were he here today, we'd shove him over and take his sneakers.

However, Lady in White is totally worth watching. Why? Because it's a perfect example of a very particular kind of film making... specifically, the kind that's undertaken by an overly-ambitious, slightly crazy writer/director that knows he's going to be exposed as a fraud and, thus, tries to shove as much into one movie as humanly possible. What's left behind, after it's all said and done, is a movie so bloated and bonkers, it's like a drunk homeless guy with a thyroid problem hobbling around in the park screaming about ghosts. In other words, it's hilarious.

Okay, let me try to explain this movie to you...

Basically, this is a movie about a kid that gets locked in his school's coat closet as part of a Halloween prank and, while huddled on a high shelf, witnesses the ghostly reenactment of a little girl's murder at the hands of an unseen assailant. This, incidentally, was the scene that haunted (no pun intended) my dreams for years. Watching this little girl all glowing and transparent get tossed around and strangled by an invisible man... it was something that, to a youngster with an overactive imagination, seemed entirely plausible and just the sort of thing that quite likely happened all the time in dark rooms in the middle of the night. This two-minute section of film stuck with me, was burned upon my young mind like scars on the flesh of an arson victim, and it fueled the purchase of many a nightlight, as well as about $150 worth of my childhood therapy sessions. Watching this scene today... yeah, it doesn't really hold up. I mean, I can still see how it would be completely freaky-deaky to a kid, but... to an adult... it just looks like some bad special effects combined with an abuse of mood-lighting rarely seen outside of a state fair haunted house.

But whatever, that doesn't matter... the rest of the movie is a treat on it's own. One best enjoyed with several six-packs of beer, the recreational drug of our choice, and/or a couchful of your favorite wise-ass friends. Because Lady in White is absolutely out of control; illicit substances and goofin' off are only going to improve matters.

So, as I mentioned earlier, it becomes pretty clear early on that the film's writer/director Frank LaLoggia knew his time behind the camera was limited. Because of this, he for some reason tried to make four different films at once. There's the aforementioned ghost story, of course. Then there's also the To Kill A Mockingbird-esque tale of the school's black janitor who gets framed for the young girl's murder (as well as all the other murders of young children that have mysteriously happened over the last ten years). And then there's the story of the titular Lady in White, who's a recluse or a ghost or something and lives alone in a couple of different houses and plays the piano and occasionally stares menacingly through people's windows. And, finally, there's the movie about wacky Italian immigrants who yell at each other, make pasta, and try to sneak cigarettes in as wacky manner as humanly possible. All of which naturally leads to an unformed mess of a film that, in trying to do four things at once, never really accomplishes much with any of them and is thus just a random jumble of scenes that wouldn't make any more or less sense no matter in what order they were shown.

Fortunately, the whole thing is spiced up with a few "Hey, look at all the tricks I learned in film school," scenes... there's horribly unnecessary blue-screen shots and flashbacks that appear in character's eyeballs and disco sparkles flying into the sun and people commanding lightning with their fingers and flying ghost comets that form hearts and the most psychotically burning house you've ever witnessed and... oh kids, the list goes on and on. But believe me when I say LaLoggia directed the shit out this movie in all the worst ways, to an excellent, vomiting-from-laughter, degree. Also of note...

-Uncomfortable masturbation references
-A certain character getting shot in the face and killed out of nowhere
-The whole movie stopping for a baby alligator chase
-The identity of the killer being telegraphed way early (hint: it's the one character who has no business being in any scene, but pops up anyways to remind the audience that he's around so you don't forget him later on during the climax)
-And, to seal the deal, Mona from Who's The Boss? plays the Lady in White. Oh yes. The movie goes there.

It's really just a trainwreck-meets-a-factory-explosion-during-a-hurricane of a movie and, if you like that sort of thing, you should totally check it out. Sort of. I mean, don't cancel plans or anything, but you know... if you've got the right set up (beer, drugs, friends), then you could do a lot worse.


Blogger jason quinones said...

has lukas hass ever been in a good movie?? i can't remember. just asking cuz i saw him recently in Brick, which i thought was a stupid fucking piece of noir-ish crap!

and he pays the bills by appearing in outkast videos for some reason.

11:42 AM  
Blogger Dan said...

Dude, this movie scared me s@#$less when I was a kid, and remained etched in my memory one of the the scariest movies I'd ever seen. Then my freshmen year I convinced my dorm to rent it for Halloween. It was a big hit, but only because everyone laughed throughout the entire thing at how stupid and campy it was. I played it off, but it was kinda embarrassing.

11:45 AM  
Blogger Clinton said...

Jason... I really dug Brick, actually. It was a little pretentious, but not so much that I couldn't handle it. Overall I thought it was a solid aping of the noir style in a non-traditional setting.

Dan... Totally. Glad I'm not the only one that was traumatized by Lady in White. Fortunantly for me, though, I was just showing to Girlfriend and not to a large group of mock-ready people.

11:56 AM  
Anonymous girlfriend said...

Jason, I hated Brick so much I lathered at the mouth. It was as pretentious as Napolean Dynamite, and it really got under my skin. Clint really liked it. That says a lot.

12:36 PM  
Blogger jason quinones said...

clinton-i respect your opinion on the brick flick. pretentious? hell yeah! and i just couldn't buy into these kids with their "dawson creek" too old for their age edge but with murder and drugs instead of pre-teen sex and relationship angst.

i admire the film for trying to do something really different with the genre though. just didn't work for me.

as far as creepy flicks from childhood, i was creeped out alot by creepshow. the last cockroach themed story hit a little too close too home at the time. fucking roaches man..

12:43 PM  
Blogger jason quinones said...

you go girlfriend!!

(i hate myself for typing that)

another brick hater!!

but...i LOVED napoleon dynamite!!

12:45 PM  
Blogger Lioux said...


Was there a obsessed detective working on the case whose wife was walking out on him while leaving dinner in the fridge because he puts his job before her and the family and he gets shot just days before retirement?!

That would be pretty bad ass.

1:04 PM  
Blogger Giggleloop said...

I also enjoyed Brick - the pretentiousness didn't bother me so much, I just went with it. Also, JGL pretty much kicked ass in that movie, which begs the question:

Is it better to act very well in movies that have a smaller audience, a la Joseph Gordon-Levitt - or to act not that badly in huge blockbusters, a la Shia LaBeouf? Discuss.

1:15 PM  
Blogger Clinton said...

Girlfriend... Yeah, yeah. But remember, I also hated Napolean Dynamite. And besides, the two movies are so apples-and-oranges, you can hardly compare the two.

Jason... I cannot handle that scene in Creepshow. Like, I absolutely do not possess the ability to cope with the horror offered up by that scene. Actually, I'm just going to pretend you didn't mention it and carry on living in a world where it doesn't exist.

Jason 2... Don't encourage her. Also, there is no excuse for liking Napolean Dynamite.

Lioux... Basically.

Giggleloop... It just depends on what you're after, I think. If you're looking for actorly cred and the respect of your peers, you do lots of movies like Brick and still live with a roommate. If you're looking for a fat bank account and the ability to buy and sell people as you see fit, you do Transformers. The latter is the choice I would make, by the way. Cred doesn't buy solid gold pants.

1:33 PM  
Blogger Todd said...

Well, it's no Prom Night...

6:41 PM  
Blogger Jason said...

I liked Brick, but my DVD player often gets jammed at chapter 13, so that's all I saw. I just assume that the good guys win, get the girls, and get away scott-free.

11:15 AM  
Blogger Clinton said...

Todd... What is, dude? What is?

Jason... I'm sitting here trying to remember how Brick ended and I just can't get it to come up. So we'll assume that you're correct.

12:24 PM  

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