Bay Coven (1987)

baycoven06Having not learned my lesson from the $5.00 box of 20 horror movies, I decided to splurge for the $7.50 box, which should be 50% better. Right?  Right?  Part I of — God help me — XX.

  • Good omen: Written by Tim Kring, responsible for the great 1st season of Heroes.
  • Bad omen:  Written by Tim Kring, responsible for the mediocre 1st season finale and subsequent seasons of Heroes.

An old man grasping a bible goes into a church to make a confession.  He must have had some juicy stuff stored up as a bolt of lightning strikes the church and somehow blows apart only the confessional booth.

baycoven22Linda (Pamela Sue Martin) is being toasted at work for her promotion to Junior Partner of a law firm — now there’s someone who could use a confession.  She goes home for a horizontal celebration with her husband Jerry (Tim Matheson), but they are interrupted by their brutally miscast friend Slater (Woody Harrelson).

The three go out to a jazz club and meet up with new friends Josh (Jeff Conaway) and Debbi (Susan Ruttan).  Josh and Debbi have just moved to Devlin Island.  They try to lure Linda & Jerry into buying a place on Bay Cove on the island and even slip them a realtor’s card.

The next day they go to the island to check out the house and are given a tour by June Cleaver — no really, Barbara Billingsly.   All seems well until Linda sees an old man in a window shaking his head at her.

She takes it as an ominous warning, but but’s he’s probably thinking to himself as he stares at Pamela Sue Martin, “Nope, I’ll never have anything like that again.”

While unpacking, Jerry is wearing a sweatshirt with LEBON on the back.  I mistakenly thought it was a LeBron James jersey, but he would have been 3 at the time.  More on this exciting foreshadowing later.

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If Wally ever brought home whore like you, I’d cut his balls off.

Slater — even the name seems absurdly prosaic for Harrelson.  He’s more of a Woody or Haymitch or White Man — takes a look around the island and notices that there is only one graveyard and no one has been buried there in 300 years.

That doesn’t seem particularly strange.  We have this beautiful island with limited space — hey, let’s waste this paradise on dead people who don’t pay property taxes or homeowner dues.  Slater gets a mysterious call about his mother being in the hospital and borrows a Jeep to get to the ferry.  As soon as he gets in, it hilariously speeds backward off a cliff and bursts into flames.  That’s about as exciting as this movie gets.  And as funny.

Other strange things begin to occur — their dog dies mysteriously, Slater’s mother was never in the hospital, their real estate agent seems to have turned into a different person, Jerry is holding a bonfire of his baseball cards, a weird kid gives Linda a dead bird and tells her, “it will all be over soon.”  She accuses the kid of having Slater’s scarf, which makes no sense as he and his luggage were burned to ashes in the huge Jeep explosion of ’87, they find a wedding quilt suggesting their neighbors have been married for 300 years, a gravestone pops up from the ground like a pop-tart.  And that old man is still just staring out the window.

baycoven24Linda finally decides to sneak inside to see the old man.  She discovers that he is not their neighbor’s grandfather, but his dun…dun…DUN…son.  There is an opening in the almost titular coven and Jerry is being recruited.  His name, Lebon, is just the backwards spelling of a dead Coven member, Nobel.  As palindromes go, it ain’t exactly REDRUM.

This might have been decent had it been directed with the slightest style or suspense. The subject matter is nothing original, but that’s fine.  The execution is just lackluster even for a TV Movie.  The ending had great potential, but no energy or emotion, and the score was dreadful.

Pamela Sue Martin was adequate, but nothing more.  Tim Matheson was his usually oily self.  Woody Harrelson was just weird, playing way too normal a character.  Most of the older supporting characters are pretty good.  It was especially good to see June Cleaver in a different role.

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Pamela Sue Martin will return in Poseidon III.

Post-Post:

  • Title Analysis:  Fine, Bay Cove is home to Bay Coven.  Hmmm I wonder if there is any significance to Devlin Island?  It was aka Eye of the Demon, which makes NO sense,
  • The direction was uninspired, yet I feel compelled to carefully review more of the director’s oeuvre such as She’s 19 and Ready, The Fruit is Ripe, and Bathtime in Bangkok.
  • It took me 5 days to watch this movie.
  • The tag line on the cover is “Something Wicked This Way Comes.” Something tells me they were ripping off Bradbury, not alluding to Shakespeare.
  • And, really, it was the good guys who came to the island.  The wicked ones were already there.

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