Sunday, December 11, 2016

Lady in White

Director - Frank LaLoggia (Fear No Evil)
Starring - Lukas Haas (The Tripper), Len Cariou (Secret Window), Alex Rocco (The Godfather)
Release Date - 1988
Genre - Horror/Mystery
Tagline - "The year is 1962.  The place is Willowpoint Falls.  Nobody talks about what happened in the school cloakroom ten years ago.  Now, in the dead of night, Frankie Scarlatti is going to find out why."
Format - Bluray (Personal Collection) (screener)

Rating (out of 5):
     I, like many of you, enjoy horror films intended for children.  They tend to be more story oriented instead of showering the viewer in blood and gore for no reason.  I love blood and gore...and boobs but they have to fit the story.  Children's horror is an escape from that where we get more character development and story.  I grew up on Goosebumps, Are You Afraid of the Dark?, So Weird, Eerie Indiana, Big Wolf on Campus, The Gate, Monster Squad, Under Wraps, Halloweentown, and so on.  When I was in college a friend of mine told me I needed to check out Lady in White.  We had been drinking so the next day I could not remember the film he told me to check out.  I start trying to piece together memories and events and concluded the film he told me to watch was Watcher in the Woods which is out of print and extremely fucking expensive.  I recently came in contact Scream Factory and they were kind enough to send me a review copy of Lady in White.  I loved the film.  So much so that I watched it twice in one day which rarely happens.  I announced my love for the film on Facebook and my friend messaged me and he told me years ago to check it out.  Wish I would have remembered!  Thank you Scream Factory for letting me check this one out!
     The film follows young Frankie Scarlatti (Haas) who is your typical elementary aged kid who is preparing for Halloween.  One day after school two boys play a prank on Frankie and lock him in the cloakroom.  That night he watches the cemetery near the school from the window until he falls asleep.  He awakens to a man in the cloakroom with him who strangles him until he passes out.  The next thing he knows is his dad is giving him mouth to mouth and he awakens.  He learns that ten years ago a string of murders rocked his small town and several kids were murdered in that very cloakroom.  They never did catch the killer but they now suspect the black janitor of the crime since he was found in the boiler room drunk.  He is arrested over the ordeal and sent to trial where he is acquitted due to lack of evidence.  However, he is shot by the mother of one of the victims who still believes it was him.  Frankie found a class ring during the attack and thinks it belongs to the killer.  His search for the owner will bring him closer to death and revealing a local legend all while realizing the killer is closer than he thinks.
     When I first popped this one in I had no idea what to expect.  Was it going to be a ghost story in the same line as Ghost Story or was it going to be a kid's save the day kind of film like Monster Squad or Stephen King's IT? I had no idea the movie would hit me the way it did.  It was visually stunning, had characters that were easily relatable, and had some genuine moments that made my skin crawl before hitting me with the harsh reality that anyone can be a monster behind closed doors.  The acting in this one is fantastic.  The film's star, Lucas Haas, is a name I was already familiar with after seeing him in one of my favorite modern slashers The Tripper.  The first film I remember seeing him in was Tim Burton's Mars Attacks.  Until then I had no idea he was a child star.  He was great and I could not see anyone else taking over this role.  He was able to draw several emotions out of me during the film's running time.  Also, we get two great performances Len Cariou and Alex Rocco.  Both men are warm and loving in the film before one of them reveal their murderous intent.  They were perfectly cast opposite one another and work very well together.  The rest of the film is solid as well but these three gentlemen stand head and shoulders above the rest.  The story for this one is great.  Just when you think you know what kind of movie you are watching it quickly changes gears and tosses something new at you.  The films tries to balance murder mystery with the supernatural, which it does for the most part, but some of the scenes come off as a little rushed or added on at the last minute.  These can be overlooked.  What I really enjoyed was the supernatural angle.  We don't get enough ghost stories like this.  Now, modern horror directors try to make their paranormal stories look like Paranormal Activity.  These films completely miss the chilling scenery and mysterious allure that make ghost stories and urban legends so much fun.  Instead, what we get are cheap jump scares and no atmosphere.   This story was more like an episode of Are You Afraid of the Dark? mixed with Something Wicked This Way Comes and I loved every minute of it!  Finally, this film does have an on screen death but it is not bloody or gory as most of you would like.  This film was intended for a younger audience so it is pretty much void of blood and gore aside from some cuts and scrapes.  The practical effects we get are decent for what they are but the film has some very dated visual effects which does not take away from the overall experience.  Overall, Lady in White is a treat for horror fans.  It has beautiful scenery, an amazing cast, and one hell of a story.  This one is worth every penny!          


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