When this movie was being filmed, a psychologist was hired as an adviser to ensure that Gary Busey’s character of Tom Sykes was realistic. Busey was excited, as he felt that he already was the character.
Fives after filming, he crashed his motorcycle with no helmet and nearly died.
Busey, who campaigned against mandatory helmet laws for motorcyclists, flew off his bike headfirst directly into a curb. Neurosurgeons at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center needed to remove blood clots from his brain to save his life.
He told Oprah Winfrey in 2014 that “My bike hit sand and fishtailed. I hit the front brake and flipped over and hit my head on the curb.” The accident split my skull wide open. At one time they had me under 12 layers of drugs and strapped down to a metal table, naked, in the mental health alert ward — cause they were going to ‘Cuckoo Nest’ me.”
Then, after saying a prayer, Busey said, “And I felt a white cloak cover around me, and I called that cloak faith. And that’s what got me out of the hospital two and a half months early. My brain got altered in a way that’s not normal and I have a different way of looking at things and feeling things. And I know how special life is.”
Recently released psychiatric patient Tom Sykes (Busey) has gone full-on Bad Ronald, hiding within the attic of the Dreyer family — Phil (Michael McKean, yes, from Spinal Tap), Julie (Mimi Rogers) and their kids Neil and Holly — and uses a baby monitor to listen in on their every waking moment.
His goal? To become the new father of the family, inventing an affair for Phil and slyly spying on Julie as she skinny dips in the pool. He even murders their dog Rudolph when he gets too close. And then when young Neal gets beat up at school, he teaches him how to fight back.
Phil and Julie get into a huge fight and he moves out, which gives Tom the opening he needs. Only one person distrusts him — their neighbor Gene. Do you know how creepy Gene is and why no one listens to him? Because he’s such a weirdo that he helped give birth to the ultimate weirdo — he’s Crispin Glover’s dad Bruce.
Of course, it all ends like Fatal Attraction, complete with Tom shrugging off bullets to keep coming after the family. But that’s not how it originally ended.
In the original script by Lem Dobbs (Romancing the Stone, The Hard Way with Michael J. Fox, Kafka for Steven Soderbergh, Dark City, The Limey, The Score with Robert De Niro, and the ill-fated Travolta vehicle, 2018’s Gotti), Sykes was an abused child and much more sympathetic. After trying to burn down the house with the family still inside, he realizes that he’s just recreating the way he murdered his own abusive family when he was young. He now realizes that he has become as evil as them and despite the rejection of the Dreyers and the fact that he can never be a part of their family, he saves them and allows the house to burn down all around himself. This ending is completely out there, which I love and wish had been filmed.
Is there anything as Gary Busey making his own home within the walls of the place you feel most safe? No. There is not.
If you want to see this for yourself, you can grab it from VHSPS or watch it on Amazon Prime or You Tube Movies. Director Matthew Patrick also directed Raquel Welch in 1993’s Tainted Blood (free; You Tube) and Jennifer Beals in the radio-ghost story, Night Owl.