kindertrauma random header image

Deadly Lessons

November 24th, 2008 by unkle lancifer · 16 Comments

Back in the olden days, circa 1983, your Unkle Lancifer, just a wee ginger critter, was like a hog in slop experiencing the slasher boom. When I heard wind of an upcoming television movie entitled DEADLY LESSONS, which was clearly and proudly exploiting the current craze, I put down my Rubik’s cube, turned up my Izod collar and waited with baited breath for the night to arrive. I was not disappointed. Since this was a made-for-television offering there was a noticeable lack of gore, but otherwise DEADLY LESSONS with its boarding school setting and double twist ending satisfied my itch.

Over the years I have been able to track down, in one form or another, most of my fondly remembered slash-treasures but this particular one has always eluded. DEADLY seemed lost to the ages and I had given up hope of ever seeing it again. Recently my dreams were answered as I got my paws on this lost gem. Instantly my cranky new millennium bitterness reverted back to my old new wave joi de vivre. It has literally been a quarter of a century since I last viewed DEADLY LESSONS, would it hold up to the test of time?

Not really, but whatareyougonnado? It’s really more of a teen mystery than a slasher (posters for SLUETH and THE ORIENT EXPRESS decorate the dorm walls and the kids play a CLUE rip-off called EVIDENCE!) but you can feel the slasher influence and the neon bite of ’83 in nearly every frame. Imagine a FACTS OF LIFE and HART TO HART crossover and then imagine something half as good as what you just imagined, and there you have it.

The real reason to watch DEADLY LESSONS is for the cast. I think it may just be the greatest cast ever assembled. First of all you have DIANE FRANKLIN (AMITYVILLE 2: THE POSESSION, TERRORVISION) who is cuter than a bug in a rug and should have been tapped to scream on the big screen way more often. She is joined by a pre-WAR GAMES ALLY SHEEDY, a post CHiPs LARRY WILCOX, a young BILL PAXTON (NEAR DARK), NANCY CARTWRIGHT (voice of Bart Simpson, THE TWIGHT ZONE MOVIE), RENEE JONES (FRIDAY THE 13TH: PART VI JASON LIVES!), SALLY KLEIN (EYES OF FIRE), KRISTA ERICKSON (DONNA WILKES replacement on HELLO LARRY!) DEENA FREEMAN (Cousin April from TOO CLOSE FOR COMFORT!) RICK ROSSOVICH (STREETS OF FIRE) and DONNA flipping REED! Who can resist that congregation?

Directed by WILLIAM WIARD (THIS HOUSE POSSESSED) and WRITTEN by JENNIFER MILLER (THE BABYSITTER), DEADLY LESSONS deserves a bit more notoriety than it has achieved. The scares are as tame as hell (unless you are frightened by bales of hay) , but the time capsule cast and intriguing who done it? plot are enough to keep it reasonably afloat. (Truth is, witnessing DONNA REED as Starkwater Hall’s over-the-hill headmistress Miss Wade conducting an illicit affair with the school’s horseback riding instructor DAVID ACKORYD (DARK SECRET OF HARVEST HOME) is worth a viewing alone). DEADLY LESSONS may not be as cool as I thought it was way back in 1983, but then again neither is that flip-collared Izod!

Tags: Telenasties

16 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Amanda By NightNo Gravatar // Nov 24, 2008 at 2:26 pm

    I wrote someting similar to this on my blog, although I wasn’t quite as smitten with it. It was one of those lost treasures that just didn’t work for me in the end (unlike Fantasies, which I got around the same time). I do agree with what you said about the cast though and the cross of Facts of Life and Hart to Hart. I’m certainly glad I own it, but it’s not one I’ll watch over and over… I’ll save that for This House Possessed (I didn’t know this was the same director, btw).

  • 2 unkle lanciferNo Gravatar // Nov 24, 2008 at 3:16 pm


    It’s too bad this one does not live up to it’s potential. If only there was one decent murder! I have been trying to track down another Diane Franklin T.V. movie from around the same time called “Summer girl” which I remember liking a lot too. It’s sort of the same plot as “The Babysitter” with D.F being the psycho and Barry Bostwick and Kim Darby as the couple she torments. Hopefully it will hold up better than this one!

  • 3 micksterNo Gravatar // Nov 24, 2008 at 7:20 pm

    Oh man! I remember this movie! However, I didn’t remember that one of the princesses from Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure (Diane Franklin) was in the movie. What sparked my memory while reading this was the fact that Larry “John” Wilcox was in it. I was one of the weird girls that preferred him to Ponch on Chips.
    On the subject of scary T.V. movies from this time period, does anyone else remember Hotline (1982) starring Lynda “Wonder Woman” Carter? I think she was working on some crisis line and starts getting calls from a serial killer. I remember the ending being scary.

  • 4 megatone230No Gravatar // Nov 24, 2008 at 7:40 pm

    After reading this review I definitely need to see this movie! “This House Possessed” is one of my favorites and was one of my first Trauma-moments as a child. The cast of Deadly Lessons sounds like a dream come true…  I’m not expecting anything mind-blowing as far the the movie goes, but I’m sure the nostalgia factor alone will make it more than worth the watch.

  • 5 melissaNo Gravatar // Nov 24, 2008 at 10:47 pm

    Man, I wish Diane Franklin would give me language lessons.

  • 6 Amanda By NightNo Gravatar // Nov 24, 2008 at 11:58 pm

    Gawd, how much do I love it here! Mickster, I’ve seen Hotline but not for awhile. You NEED to read this awesome review of it over at Anchowoman in Peril: Definitely makes me want to see the movie again! Megatone, does your kindertrauma involve the shower of blood! I wrote a review of the movie here: It’s my favorite made for tv movie. I’ve seen it at least 30 times the whole way through… as an adult!

  • 7 micksterNo Gravatar // Nov 25, 2008 at 12:30 am

    Amanda, I should have known that you would remember Hotline. Thanks for reminding me about This House Possessed starring our dream boat Parker Stevenson. I just found a clip of him on The Donny and Marie Show. I must have had a fit when he showed up. Two of my crushes as a kid on the same show. Yes, I was also in love with Donny.

  • 8 mamamiasweetpeachesNo Gravatar // Nov 25, 2008 at 3:11 pm

    I love love love Diane Franklin! Its a weird , obsessive, all-consuming love, much like the love I have for other random movie chicks like Jill Schoelan, Kim Richards and Paula E Sheppard!

    You can have your Dame Judi Denches, your Meryl Streeps, your Debra Wingers….. I will take Diane Franklin over those loser b!tches anytime. A case of beer and LAST AMERICAN VIRGIN and BETTER OFF DEAD and life is soooo goooood!

  • 9 Amanda By NightNo Gravatar // Nov 25, 2008 at 7:35 pm

    Mickster, I have to see that Donny and Marie. I didn’t ever really have a crush on Donny, but I did like him and his sister. I helped her once at the bookstore I worked at. She was nice and very pretty.

    Mama! I love Jill too. She’s so amazing. You made me look up Paula E. Sheppard and I saw some of your posts on IMDb. I quite liked her too. I saw that fan page. Terrific!

  • 10 micksterNo Gravatar // Nov 25, 2008 at 8:21 pm

    Amanda, here is the link:


  • 11 unkle lanciferNo Gravatar // Nov 25, 2008 at 10:13 pm


    You have excellent taste in random movie chicks! 

  • 12 mamamiasweetpeachesNo Gravatar // Nov 26, 2008 at 10:29 am

    I never had a childhood crush on Donnie Osmond but a few years ago I was watching THE SHARON OSBOURNE show and he was a guest and I dropped whatever I was holding (chances are ‘a beer’) and went “Day-ummmm!”  Donnie is aging like fine wine! If anything he looks better NOW than he did in the ’70s!

    A couple of years ago i went with my mom, my daughter and my husband to see him as Gaston in Broadways BEAUTY & THE BEAST. He was great! And there were a lot of hooting women in the audience, I was in good company.

    About a year ago I was reading a magazine article on what Women Want In A Man and they listed stuff like “dark eyes”, “lush hair”, “nice teeth”…and at the end they did a composite of WHAT all those pieces together would look like and got…Donnie Osmond! So I’m not crazy. Donnie really IS that hot!

  • 13 micksterNo Gravatar // Nov 26, 2008 at 11:22 am

    Mama, My older sister had a poster of Donny in our bedroom and at the age of 4 or 5 I would kiss that poster. My grandmother crocheted an afghan for me as a child and I remember asking her for purple because Donny use to say that was his favorite color. I must have had the right idea as a child because you are right he has aged wonderfully. Beats the crap out of the way Leif Garrett turned out!

  • 14 Amanda By NightNo Gravatar // Nov 26, 2008 at 12:51 pm

    Mickster, thanks so much for the link! Actually, Parker did really well in comedy. Did you see him in Shooting Stars with Billy Dee Williams (Tori Spelling plays his daughter!) and also in Stroker Ace? He was cute here with Marie. I wish that had been me!

  • 15 micksterNo Gravatar // Nov 26, 2008 at 4:31 pm

    Amanda, I don’t think I saw either of those movies. I checked and naturally the T.V. movie isn’t available. I may put Stroker Ace on my Netflix queue just so I can see Parker. I would have been red-faced and unable to speak if it had been me!

  • 16 dvyoung444No Gravatar // Jul 28, 2013 at 1:13 pm

    Yeh, all in for Diane Franklin along with the blond girl from Yor, the Hunter From the Future. They were the Miss Universe’s of the 80’s for me.

You must log in with your Kindertrauma account to post a comment: