Archive for the ‘made-for-TV movies’ Tag

Sharkansas Women’s Prison Massacre (2015)   2 comments

When Quint says, “Cage goes in the water, you go in the water. Shark’s in the water. Our shark.”, he probably means salt water, since that’s where sharks live.

“Farewell and adieu…”

Not so fast, bub!

When an evil oil company uses fracking to find oil, they open the floodgates and let stealth sharks into the Arkansas bayou. Since the sharks’ new feeding ground is miles from any major population centers, you might think, “Hey, what’s the harm?”

“We’re coming to get you, Bubba.”

Sharks don’t live in a vacuum. Remember I said that.

While the muscle-bound predators cruise the spillways looking for lunch, folks at a nearby women’s prison send a few inmates on a field trip.

“This prison issue is so confining.”

Two guards accompany a van full of female prisoners to a work detail near the swamp. Dressed in ridiculously tight shorts and tank tops from the Desperate Spring Breakers collection, the women get to work pretending to dig things as an excuse to bend over provocatively. After the obligatory cleavage and pouring water on their chests sequence, the real fun begins. Inmates separate from the pack and soon everyone’s tripping over body parts in the woods.

“Hey, anybody lose something?”

At the same time, Detective Kendra Patterson (Traci Lords) and her partner, Detective Adam (I know.) (Corey Landis) follow the trail of a crew of robbers that leads them to the same remote area. They find some bones and some stolen money and apparently lose interest because they go out for tacos and never mention the case again.

“Case closed.”

Just when you think two plot lines are enough, director Jim Wynorski of Chopping Mall fame, adds a third. As guards and prisoners head back to jail, Anita’s (Cindy Lucas) girlfriend hijacks the van and takes them all hostage.

“Going my way?”

Honey (Dominique Swain), the kidnapper, drives her charges to a double-wide in the woods where they’ll all spend a few days changing clothes, eating peaches and beans, and lounging in the hot tub. Ah, paradise.

Just another day in stir.

There’s some infighting and general nastiness and then, a geologist and his cute, young assistant show up. They all realize they must band together or die at the hands fins of the weird, burrowing sharks. Oh, did I forget to mention that? The sharks not only thrive in the brackish and unsalted water of the swamp, but also plow through the earth in their quest for blood. No, really. The spiky-headed monsters muscle their way through the ground and make a beeline to their suitably astonished victims.


That’s my favorite part. That, and watching the women hightail it away from subterranean killers wearing pants so tight, they can hardly run.

Back to the sharks. The sharks in Sharkansas Women’s Prison Massacre make the graboids from Tremors look like amateurs. Nothing slows these guys down. They move through the earth like a hot knife through butter, pushing rocks and dirt in front of them like a groundhog in a cartoon. They also jump a lot and seem unaffected by automatic weapons.

“You can’t get me!”

They talk and create a diversion and Detectives Patterson and Adam drive around and then the escapees go into a cave and it’s over. Phew!

Cave o’ sharks.

To Wynorski’s credit, the production values are pretty good and the music, by Chuck Cirino, had a nifty James Bond theme sound. The acting, especially by Traci Lords, Corey Landis, and John Callahan, as Carl, the prison guard, was far better than average for these sharktaculars. I was rooting for Carl the whole time.

“Game over, convicts.”

Sharkansas Women’s Prison Massacre entertained me. The effects were cheesetastic, but that’s ok. I liked a couple of the characters and I’m a big fan of Tremors so this film was fun. I mean, the title alone makes it worth the price of admission. I can’t wait for the sequel.

“Look for us again in Shakansas Five: Parole Denied.”

The Deliberate Stranger (1986)   2 comments

harmon tv ad

Ted Bundy admitted to killing thirty women in seven states between 1974-1978.  Police believe, but cannot confirm, that he killed many more starting years earlier.  Ted Bundy fooled everyone.  No one knew the charming, handsome man who picked them up hitchhiking or asked for help putting a sailboat on his car rack was a serial rapist/killer and necrophile.  His carefully constructed front worked until it didn’t.  At some point his compulsions and arrogance and disdain for humanity showed through the facade of this golden boy with a great future.  People who had known Bundy for years were stunned that the friendly, capable legal student was really a twisted psychopath.


“Want to try my candy handcuffs?”

THE DELIBERATE STRANGER, a made-for-television movie aired, in two parts, in 1986.  Mark Harmon plays Bundy as a smart sociopath who knows the right things to say, but has none of the real feelings behind them.  The film begins right before Bundy’s move from Washington to Utah to attend law school.  Similarities in the disappearances of several young women convince police to look for one perpetrator.  Since these murders happened in the 1970s, before national criminal databases existed, police in different jurisdictions have no idea that their neighbors might be dealing with the same criminal.  This lack of communication helps Bundy and he’s able to kill women all over several western states without notice.  Detectives in Washington, played wonderfully by Frederic Forrest, John Ashton, and M. Emmet Walsh start hearing about other, similar crimes in Utah and Colorado and soon those departments are sharing information.  Well, most share.  Some think their missing women are unrelated which makes the process move more slowly.  Bundy disposed of his victims in wooded areas as well so it could take years to find them.


“She had more hair in the photos.”

I’ve always liked this film.  It’s told as a police procedural and I love those.  You get to learn what detectives were thinking at the time of the murders.  For instance, the term deliberate stranger implies a criminal who has never met his victim, but chooses her just the same.  Bundy often stalked his prey for weeks until he found an opportunity to strike.  It seemed to many victims’ friends and family that their loved one simply vanished.  One minute they saw her, then she walked out of sight and was never heard from again.


“Would you like to take a ride?  I have duct tape.”

George Grizzard plays Richard Larsen who later wrote Bundy: The Deliberate Stranger.  Larsen, a Seattle Times reporter,  knew Bundy in Washington before he was suspected in the murders.  Grizzard does a nice job showing his change of heart on Bundy.  At first, he’s a fan and supports Bundy.  After it becomes obvious that Bundy is the killer, Larsen tries to learn more about him and why he became such a sicko.  Then there are the women in Bundy’s life.  Glynnis O’Connor and Deborah Goodrich play women romantically involved with the killer.  O’Connor drops him when she realizes he’s murdered 30 women. Nice move, G!  Goodrich, not so much.  Her character might be modeled after Carole Ann Boone, who moved from Washington to Florida to be near Bundy and later married him in court.  Ahhh love.


“Not tonight, honey.  You’re not dead enough.”

Now, a word about Mark Harmon.  Yes, I know.  I remember SUMMER SCHOOL.  Trust me.  Harmon’s good.  He pulls it off. You see the wheels turning behind that handsome face.  Harmon was a sharp casting choice.  He has the looks and the chops.


“Don’t forget the profile, Ed!”

Anyway, I realize THE DELIBERATE STRANGER isn’t a typical Halloween choice, but I can’t think of anything scarier than an attractive face that smiles at you while he plans your death.  Boo.

national-museum-of-crime & pun

Ted Bundy’s VW on display at the National Museum of Crime & Punishment in Washington, D.C.



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