WARNING SIGN (1985)
I came to WARNING SIGN very late in life on late-night cable. I wrongfully avoided it at the video store because its bland VHS cover art gave me the impression that it was a stuffy political thriller. Itâ€™s actually much more like RESIDENT EVIL (2002) meets THE CRAZIES (1973/2010). Extremely likable yet strangely coiffed Kathleen Quinlan stars as Joanie Morse who works as a security guard at a bioweapon military laboratory that masquerades as a harmless pesticide plant. One day some dope drops a vial full of highly toxic bacteria and soon itâ€™s on Joanie to shut the place down for quarantine to the mounting infuriation of all who work there. Worse still, the contagion causes those infected to turn into super pissed off zombie-like goons. There are some interesting against-type turns by Sam Waterson as Joanieâ€™s Sheriff hubby and ALIENâ€™s Yaphet Kotto as an army Major assigned to snuff out the situation. The great character actor Jeffrey DeMunn (THE HITCHER, THE BLOB, THE MIST) is particularly compelling as Dr. Dan Fairchild, an ex-scientist, ex-alcoholic who just might be clever enough to save the day. Some of WARNING SIGN is hokey and far-fetched but in this day and age itâ€™s probably more plausible than ever before.
A great double feature with WARNING SIGN would be 1984â€™s IMPULSE which tells the tale of toxic chemicals infiltrating a small townâ€™s water supply and making its inhabitants do the cuckoo conga. The ever-talented Meg Tilly (ONE DARK NIGHT, PSYCHO II) stars as Jennifer who receives a strange (for her at least) phone call from her mother cursing her out, haranguing her and calling her awful names. Her mother then proceeds to attempt suicide and so Jennifer and her boyfriend Stuart (Tim Matheson) leave their cozy city life to go back to her hometown to find out why ma is inexplicable flipping her wig. It turns out almost everyone in town is feeling just about the same insane way and that includes her super creepy brother played by dear departed Bill Paxton. I remember seeing this one back in the day and finding it a bit lackluster but in retrospect, I think my young self was just reacting to its dire, depressing, lethargic tone which I now understand completely.
THE FEAR INSIDE (1993)
Hereâ€™s a made for SHOWTIME movie that never made the jump to DVD so Iâ€™m guessing thatâ€™s why it has completely fallen into the cracks. Christine Lahti (of one of my favorite non-horror flicks HOUSEKEEPING) plays a (apparently very well paid) Childrenâ€™s book illustrator named Meredith who lives in an endless mansion with her son. Meredith has agoraphobia so that means she never wants to go outside but when you see her digs youâ€™d re-think the outdoors too. She decides to rent one of her hundreds of rooms to an adorable stranger named Jane (Jennifer Rubin of A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET 3: DREAM WARRIORS & BAD DREAMS) who is soon visited by her hunky brother Pete (Dylan McDermott of AMERICAN HORROR STORY) Hereâ€™s the scandalous thing though: Jane and Pete are not really brother and sister! Theyâ€™re lovers on the lam who just killed a bunch of peeps and stole a giant diamond! Wha?!!! Itâ€™s true. THE FEAR INSIDE is kinda deliciously campy and itâ€™s basically LADY IN A CAGE (1964), which is fine by me. Jane and Pete kind of remind me of Roy Batty and Pris from BLADE RUNNER and they also kind of remind me of Chucky and Tiffany from SEED OF CHUCKY. I love crazy people and Jennifer Rubin is so much fun as the psychotic, wild-haired Pam who I would also compare to Fairuza Balk in THE CRAFT for her virtuoso level of lunacy. She really goes for broke and switches from vulnerable and hurt to violating and hurtful with masterful ease. I wish Jennifer Rubin made more movies. Sheâ€™s extremely underrated.
I know listing thrillers isnâ€™t much of a stretch for horror fans but wanted to throw these titles out there anyway. They seemed to compliment the quarantine cambin fever Iâ€™ve been experiencingâ€¦
I forgot to mention THE THINGâ€™s Richard Dysart (Doc Copper) is terrific in WARNING SIGN too.
Sorry that THE FEAR INSIDE might be a hard one to catch on physical media- Ihave an old VHS screener from my video store days.
It is on Youtube if you can deal w the funky image qualityâ€¦
Hereâ€™s the trailer that letâ€™s ya know just what kind of perfect late night cable fare it isâ€¦
and hereâ€™s the movie entire
Also: please forgive any errors- I usually get Aunt John to check my posts but Iâ€™m giving him a break today cuz heâ€™s been trapped doing zoom meetings all week!
ANDâ€¦ If anyone out there would like to do a THREE NON HORROR MOVIES FOR HORROR FANS post please send them in to email@example.com! I love any kind of viewing suggestions you can come up with!
I have never heard of The Fear Inside but I will be watching it ASAP! I loved when horror-thrillers would air on tv and cable networks (I stand by my assertion that When a Stranger Calls Back, which premiered on Showtime, is much scarier and better-done than half of the modern “hip” movies like Truth or Dare and the like). I agree that Jennifer Rubin should have had a much bigger career; not only was she a beauty, but she is a terrific actor. I have never seen Warning Sign or Impulse, though I’m aware of them. Adding them to my movie list!
I agree! WHEN A STRANGER CALLS BACK is awesome! I love those types of made for cable thrillers too! I recently watched a good when w a similar vibe called THE 4th FLOOR (1999) w/ William Hurt and Juliette Lewis (its on tubiTV) – check that out if you can. Really love Jennifer Rubin and just watched BAD DREAMS again last night (hopefully for a future post). I did get to meet her at a convention once and she was very cool and kind.