October 25, 1997 in Features

‘Child’ More Soap Opera Than Horror

Faye Zuckerman New York Times Syndicate
 

In honor of Halloween, ABC is hoping to scare up some viewers for its horror film “The Devil’s Child” Sunday at 9.

The word “horror” rarely applies to this absurd soap opera. “Child” steals its plot from the famous terror tale “Rosemary’s Baby.” The action also centers around a creepy building where the dwellers are folks who have sold their souls to the devil.

Suspense and the unexpected are missing from “Child.” We’re left with a predictable plot: The heroine (Kim Delaney) lives in the haunted building, and her across-the-hall neighbor is a creepy mystery man (Thomas Gibson of “Dharma & Greg”).

In her apartment, there’s a boarded-up hole in the wall where a woman was said to have been left to die. At night she hears scratching sounds.

The question one asks throughout this tale is “Why doesn’t she just move out?”

The only explanation must be that the scriptwriters sold their souls before they could infuse substance into this film. The movie never manages to conjure up chills beyond the occasional scratching sounds.

Highlights

“World Series,” NBC Saturday at 4:30 and Sunday (if necessary) at 4:30.

On Sunday, if there’s no Game 7, the movie “Terminal Velocity” is scheduled at 9. The 1994 movie delivers Charlie Sheen and Nastassja Kinski in a Cold War thriller. Kinski plays a mystery woman, and Sheen is her skydiving teacher. Great aerial stunts.

“C-16,” ABC tonight at 8: The squad chases after rich teens who rob banks for sport. The hour examines how the wealthy believe they are above the law.

“Saturday Night Live,” NBC tonight at 11:30: Chris Farley hosts. The Mighty Mighty Bosstones perform.

“Wonderful World of Disney,” ABC Sunday at 7: “Tower of Terror” is a lightweight horror film for preteens. (Kids younger than 10 might become frightened, even though the ghosts in this tale are friendlier than Casper.)

In the movie, Steve Guttenberg stars as a down-and-out tabloid photographer hoping a picture of the ghosts haunting an abandoned Hollywood Tower Hotel will bring him fame and fortune. His spunky niece, a witch and his former boss (Nia Peeples) want him to do the right thing and help solve a 60-year-old mystery.

“The Simpsons,” FOX Sunday at 8: The cartoon sitcom’s annual spoofs of horror tales have become legendary, and in this installment the animated characters live up to their devilishly good-fun reputation. The trilogy doesn’t terrify, rather it tickles funny bones with satires of “The Omega Man,” “The Fly” and “The Crucible.”

You can catch repeats of earlier “Simpson” horror episodes on Sunday as well. At 7, there’s a rerun of “The Springfield Files” featuring the voices of “X-Files” stars Gillian Anderson and David Duchovny. At 7:30, FOX reruns the 1996 terror trilogy in which one of the segments has Bob Dole and President Clinton kidnapped by space aliens.

“Miracle in the Woods” (1997), CBS Sunday at 9: Slow and depressing, this story of redemption in the deep South manages to entertain thanks to Della Reese. She delivers one of her best performance as an elderly recluse named Miss Cooper. She lives on a rundown pecan farm where she is hiding from a troubled past.

Two sisters (Patricia Heaton and Meredith Baxter) believe they inherited the pecan farm from their mother. Baxter’s character wants to kick Miss Cooper off the land and sell the property. Guess who teaches whom a lesson in humility?

Have some hankies handy. The ending is at least three tissues.

“Masterpiece Theatre,” KSPS Sunday at 8: Anne Bronte’s 1848 novel “The Tenant of Wildfell Hall” offers up a feminist tale featuring Tara Fitzgerald as the assertive Helen Graham. Graham attempts to escape an abusive husband by scooping up her young son and sneaking off to a hideout in the country.

Cable Calls

“Under Wraps” (1997), DIS tonight at 7 and 10:20: “Coach’s” Bill Fagerbakke brings chills to this horror tale as a resurrected mummy. The three teens who brought the monster back to life regret the deed as they have wreaked havoc with the fate of the mummy’s soul. It’s easy to get wrapped up in this tale.

“Mary Higgins Clark’s ‘Let Me Call You Sweetheart’,” (1997), FAM Sunday at 7: You can catch Meredith Baxter in this cable movie as a prosecutor. She re-opens an 11-year-old murder after she notices something unusual in a plastic surgeon’s office. It’s formulaic stuff even down to Baxter’s character’s willingness to jeopardize her career in the name of the justice.

Movie Marquee

“Michael Collins” (1996), HBO tonight at 8: A strong performance by Liam Neeson paired with an outstanding cast make this intense fact-based movie about the life and times of the IRA guerilla something not to be missed. Alan Rickman plays a nationalist leader who becomes one of Collins’ enemies.


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