LARRY COHEN WEEK: Wicked Stepmother (1989)

Did you know that Larry Cohen wrote, produced and directed the last film Bette Davis was ever in? No? Well, she dropped out after filming began, citing issues with the script and how she was being photographed, but Cohen claims that it was due to her ill health. Regardless, the results are…interesting.

Davis plays the title villain, a chain-smoking witch (Becca sees her as the hero of the story) who marries Sam (Lionel Stander, Max from Hart to Hart) while his vegetarian family — daughter Jenny (Colleen Camp, the maid from Clue) and husband Steve (David Rasche from Sledge Hammer!) — are on vacation.

When Davis left the film, her character becomes a cat and her daughter Priscilla (Barbara Carrera, Never Say Never Again, Condorman) takes over as the film’s villain. She mostly argues with her other about switching bodies and sleeping with Steve.

People get shrunk, Tom Bosley, Seymour Cassel and Richard Moll (remember, all 80’s horror and science fiction must have either him or Robert England in it) show up and there’s a crazy moment where Jenny discusses how much she misses her mother and they show a photo of Joan Crawford!

This is…well, it’s weird. You can tell the movie fell apart when Davis left days into filming for a dentist visit and never came back. Her ADR was all done by Michael Greer (Thorn from Messiah of Evil!), who was an accomplished female impersonator. What a strange film!

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