Enough with the shots of guys’ sweaty sex chests. This time it is somewhat less odious as on top of the layer of sweat, there is a layer of topless blonde. Also because the guy is credited as “Bad Lover.” The blonde sends him packing; and not in the good way.
Immediately after he leaves, the phone rings. She asks who it is and the caller replies, “Charlie. Call me Charlie” in a creepy breathless voice, which is not how I remember the commercial. He continues, “I’m watching you.” She spins around to see the condo facing her room. After her recent performance, there ought to be a dozen faces against the windows. He says, “I’m always watching you,” as he lowers the binoculars. We see that he is taking no chances — over the phone, in another building, he is still wearing a mask to hide his identity. He then opens a switchblade. The scene it is not staged well-enough to demonstrate that she is actually seeing him rather than reacting to the sound on the phone. However, there is still some residual goodwill from the boob-scene, so no problem.
She let’s out a scream and the camera pulls back to reveal she is on a monitor being drooled over by another three guys. Inexplicably, the picture quality of her scene on the monitor is far superior to the picture quality of the rest of the episode. How is that even possible? Why didn’t they apply this same technology to the boob-scene, or even — crazy talk — the whole episode?
Sadly, the blonde actress Leda Bedell is not much of an actress. She was forced on first-time director Alex Nolan by his producer. The producer accuses him of making an “artsy-fartsy film” when it is clearly the standard humorless melodrama that Cinemax specialized in.
As Alex watches her rehearse the last scene of the movie, her male co-star Duncan has a hissy fit because she “is not giving me what I need.” Alex chews him out and takes Leda into his office for a little private rehearsal, and maybe what he needs. Fortuitously, they were shooting the death scene which includes a long kiss. After the smooch, there is a very effective fake-out. Kudos on that anyway. She agrees to meet Alex for dinner that night.
As she is getting ready, there is a knock at the door. A man with the same mask hands her a dozen roses. The door closes, and when she looks back in the hall 2 seconds later. there is no one there. The roses are still there, however, with a card that says RIP. In her parking garage, she sees Duncan and accuses him of being flower-guy. On the way to the restaurant, she sees the man in the mask following her on a motorcycle.
Alex is late, and Leda accuses him of being motorcycle-guy. She thinks Alex did it to coax a good performance out of her. There she gets a phone-call at her table from Charlie. That night she gets another call from Charlie and sees him across the street in a window. For a change, a woman in the movies does the sensible thing and calls the police. She goes with them to the apartment where he appeared, but there is just a harmless old man living there.
The police leave her downstairs. As she goes up to her apartment, she sees the masked man in the stairwell. He starts swinging the switchblade, but she is able to get away and get to her apartment. As she leans against the door, the knife plunges through right next to her head. The masked man begins breaking through the door and . . . son of a bitch if they didn’t trick me again!
After shooting a scene, Alex repeats something the masked man said, so she runs away. She discovers a mask in his office, so takes off. That night, Alex gets a call, “I’m watching you, always watching you.” He turns and sees Leda wearing the mask in a window across the street. She continues, “Let’s do the last scene for real.”
They meet in a disco. Alex admits he was the man in the mask. He pre-recorded the phone-call. He used fancy Hollywood make-up to pretend to be the shorter, older man across the street. Their confrontation is very effective with Leda wearing the mask on the back of her head. It is surreal to see her dancing that way, and when she spins around face-mask-face-mask. She gets her revenge and does so is a logical way that calls back to an earlier scene.
There is so much to like here. It is impossible to tell whether LaGena Hart is a bad actress or is effectively playing a bad actress, so I will give her the benefit of the doubt. Peter Coyote is always good. The script takes just enough turns, and the final face-off is visually arresting. Unfortunately, that deadly 1980’s vibe is a wet blanket over the whole episode.
Still, it manages to be pretty good.
- Thus starts the first post of The Hitchhiker – Vol 1. The fact that they went all the way to Season 3 for the first episode does not bode well.
- Directed by Paul Verhoeven, later to make RoboCop, Total Recall, Basic Instinct and oh . . . Showgirls.
- Writer Robert Avrech wrote an earlier episode which may show up later according to the logic of this set. He also wrote the screenplay for De Palma’s Body Double.
- Bad Lover guy is actually married to LaGena Hart. He was also Roy Munson’s dad in Kingpin.