Hey, I just figured out that I can watch YouTube videos on my big TV thanks to my friendly best buddy PS3! This opens up so many wonderful opportunities for yours truly! Lately, due to events completely out of my control, I have caught some pretty decent movies. Enough is enough. I need something terrible! Luckily, every request my mind ever makes is always promptly fulfilled by the universe! That is how SHADOWS OF THE MIND (1980) waltzed into my life! This movie nearly knocked CATHY’S CURSE off its perch as my number one most-beloved, maddening atrocity! Of course SHADOWS has no evil doll in it so there was never any real threat of that happening but still, that previously unthinkable thought did cross my mind! Will a normal human be able to watch this movie for five minutes without shutting it off? Who knows and who cares! I wish I knew how to properly describe this awkward oddity. It’s sort of like being stuck on a bus for hours sitting next to a rambling nutcase and it’s sort of like if ANDREA MARTIN starred in a movie based on the comic strip ZIGGY except somebody gets stabbed in the eye with a corkscrew. This is one of those movies that is often hilarious in its ineptness and yet is so persistently peculiar that it ends up being creepier than you’d expect.
SHADOWS is the story of slack-jawed, sad sack Elise (MARION JOYCE) who is set free from the funny farm after spending the last 12 years learning to say goodbye to the trauma of witnessing her father’s tragic boating death and hello to a seriously unhealthy attachment to her psychiatrist. With the best of intentions she moves back to her stately family home, only to be tormented by her snarky stepbrother and stalked by a shifty groundskeeper. Soon folks are being murdered and we’re lead to wonder if Elise is being framed or if she’s lost her marbles again. It’s kind of like PSYCHO 2 without the burden of quality. The most fascinating thing here is the fact that the screenplay was written by lead actress JOYCE. This adds a weirdly personal, almost confessional vibe and it compounds the discomfort when other characters must duly remark how vibrant and beautiful the (sorry) borderline hunchback Elise is. Director ROGER WATKINS (who is also responsible for the more notorious THE LAST HOUSE ON DEAD STREET) has a way of making 80 minutes seem like 180 but the film’s campy, parlor room hysterics and through the roof nutso payoff are easily worth the sluggish haul, at least, to me. Make no mistake this movie is not good in the traditional sense but I loved it in ways I could never love a good movie. It certainly didn’t successfully convince me of everything it set out to but in the case of its depiction of mental illness I stand absolutely sold.