Wednesday, March 16, 2011

i bet the actor insisted his character would wear it...

I am apparently of the age where I can identify with Lifetime movies. No longer up for denial, I simply go looking for them now, having tossed my hands in the air and released myself to the fact that I identify with an "aging" Catholic school teacher played by Angela Lansbury moving to rural Ireland where she unexpectedly finds senior citizen love with her pen pal, a salty Ted Kennedy-esque Irish guy.
That movie, in case anyone wants to watch it, is called "The Love She Sought" and can be watched instantly on Netflix.
But I've already seen that. Several times. So I went looking tonight for something along those lines and when I came to, "The Case of the Hillside Strangers" (1989) starring Dennis Farina and Billy Zane as said stranglers, I stopped everything, made myself some tea, put on my new Walmart nightgown and settled in.
Because again: hands thrown in air, Lifetime movies, Walmart nightgown. After I write this, I'm going to read the Bible while listening to really obvious classical music.
Turns out, "The Case of the Hillside Stranglers" is awesome, but not for the serial killer-esque reasons one might expect. This 1989 TV-movie is packed with wonderful little senseless moments, moments that in 1989, apparently no one noticed. Like this one:

Kicked out of the house by his (soon to be ex-)wife, Sgt. Bob Grogan can't sleep because he's too wound up about these dead girls showing up all over Los Angeles. So he gets out of bed, opens his fridge and eats the only food he has: the last pickle in the pickle jar.
That's it.
The next scene is in the morning at the police station.
Why did we just see this guy eat a pickle in his underwear?
Why not!
And not that I didn't have a bolo tie in 1989, but I was 11. If I end up dead in some palm tree'd park and a cop shows up wearing a bolo tie, I'm going to be pissed.

It took me forever, but the bald guy is the FBI guy from The Firm, right? If he yelled, "McDeere!" it would help, but I'm pretty sure it's him. (Related: Some really great character actors pop up in 80's TV movies.)
Then we get to the big courtroom scene at the end where the jury comes back with a verdict and all of the law enforcement officials who have put years of their blood, sweat and tears into solving the Hillisde Strangler case can hardly wait another second.
And trumping his crime scene bolo tie, Sgt. Thorpe choses the following for court:

What is going on!?!?! How are we supposed to pay attention when this guy is wearing this tie? It is literally the Colonel Sanders. He is wearing the Colonel's Kentucky tie. Sgt. Thorpe is supposed to be a gritty, LA homicide cop in the late 70's, not a racist Mayor in a small Southern town in 1931.
I can't get enough of it.

I am a big fan of the work of Dennis Farina, a former cop turned actor. Dennis, who played his best role in the film "Another Stakeout" often plays cops (see: "Manhunter") but in "The Case of the Hillside Stranglers" he played one of the killers, Angelo Buono:

And Billy Zane (Cal from "Titanic", I shouldn't have to tell you) played Kenneth Bianchi:

The Hillside Stranglers are an interesting serial case because serial killers usually work alone, and normally they're not so outwardly normal. I really haven't done that much personal, independent research on these two real life serial killers. I have a "type" of killer that I find interesting. And these two aren't my type. But I'll get on it, because I'm curious how these two compare with Leonard Lake and Charles Ng. Also, the Buono and Bianchi were cousins, which is weird.
Anyway, two well-spent Wednesday night thumbs up on "The Case of the Hillside Stranglers" which in keeping with our theme, is available in the "Made for TV Movies" section of Netflix Watch Instantly...

3 comments:

Lisa said...

As an 80s movie connoisseur I have to tell you that bald detective is not from The Firm but instead teacher in Back to the Future who yells, "McFly!" Additionally, he is commanding officer of the ship in Top Gun that yells, "Maverick! Get in here!" So he did at one point yell at Tom Cruise, you just have the wrong movie.

And bolo tie played Ugly Betty's dad.

Yes, this is the stuff in my brain. Yes, I am in need of a life.

Beth Spotswood said...

Lisa, you're right!
I somehow morphed bald Ed Harris from The Firm into bald screaming guy from Top Gun. Nice call on that one...

Anonymous said...

"You screw up this much (itsy-bitsy), and you'll be flying a plane filled with rubber dogshit out of Hong Kong!"