Argh. I’m trapped in a heat wave and I have no place to hide. Might as well cover all the windows, blast my AC and hunker down to watch the made for TV movie NO PLACE TO HIDE (’81) (on ol' reliable YouTube). I got an itch and it can only be scratched by the legendary John Llewellyn Moxey (THE NIGHT STALKER (’72), HOME FOR THE HOLIDAYS (’72), I, DESIRE (’82) et al.). This flick has fascinated and creeped me out since my youth and may be ground zero for my freaky fear of movies involving women simply trying to make it to their cars at night in seemingly unpopulated parking lots or garages. I love this once ubiquitous trope-cornucopia spilling clacking heals on cement, startling car horns and menacing shadows and/or silhouettes. It’s even more satisfying if the potential victim ends up hiding under the car staring at ominous shoes. The real pay off is the inevitable hider in the back seat though. So gratifying.
Doe-eyed art student Amy Manning (frequently terrorized Kathleen Beller of ARE YOU IN THE HOUSE ALONE? (’78) and DEADLY MESSAGES (’85) fame) would just like to get to her car without being attacked by a masked creep, thank you very much.
Make it to the car she does, but only to discover she’s fallen for the oldest trick in the book and is ubber-ing an assailant who sneakily hid in the back seat and waited for the most stressful moment to reveal himself (such things kindertraumas are made of). The uninvited masked threat, rather than kill poor Amy while he has a chance, instead utters the cryptic threat, “Soon, Amy, soon” and bolts out of the car as her head is turned. Turns out Amy has been stalked by this lanky lunatic for a while now, so much so that all of her friends and family are beginning to suspect she’s imaging the whole thing and the ever helpful police have thrown up their hands in exhaustion. Is Amy a nutcase or is somebody trying to make her look like a nutcase? When she receives a sinister funeral wreath in the mail it seems tangible evidence has finally been secured. That is until Amy questions the florist about who ordered the delivery and he informs her that she herself did! What the hell?
Luckily there is a tragedy in the past just waiting to be explored. Amy by all accounts was doing swell until that fateful day a year ago when her beloved (and rich) father, while visiting their lakeside cabin, died in a mysterious boating accident! Amy was meant to join her father on the trip but stayed behind (likely to concentrate on the sculptured bust of herself she’s been working diligently on) and now is looney with guilt. I don’t want to give too much away but I’m sure you’ll have a general idea of which direction this cart is heading when I tell you Amy’s super concerned and unsuspicious stepmother Adele (Kodak spokeswoman Marietta Hartley who incidentally, I assisted as a retail worker when she was doing a play in town in the mid-nineties) and beady-eyed psychiatrist Cliff Letterman (the totally non-creepy Keir Dullea) conclude the best way for Amy to face her mental problems is by visiting said secluded cabin far from any possible aid if trouble should arise. Sure, it’s probably the most unsafe place anyone could possibly think of going to but psychiatrists and stepmothers know best!
Just when you think you’ve got this particular DEATHTRAP (’82) all figured out, the game board is spun yet again and something akin to DIABOLIQUE (’55) emerges sweetly injected with some choice modern slasher set pieces. Horror mainstay and Hammer alumni Jimmy Sangster (HORROR OF DRACULA/FRANKENSTEIN etc., plus many a clever psychological puzzler like SCREAM OF FEAR (’61), PARANOIAC (’63) NIGHTMARE (’64) etc.) truly knows how to twist the knife, old pro Moxey keeps the cat & mouse stalking at an impressive pace and Beller is basically built for the material. Heck, the time period it was made in alone delivers nearly everything on my own personal goggle-box couch party shopping list. Outdated yet sincerely missed corniness abounds and it's possible NO PLACE TO HIDE might leave a few horror-heads craving more bloodshed, but all in all, this is one fun under-seen TV gem that shouldn’t stay hidden.