Picture Perfect Mysteries: Dead Over Diamonds (2020)

After covering the opening exhibit of a priceless art collection, professional photographer Allie Adams (Alexa Vega from the early 2000’s Spy Kids franchise, all grown up and married as PenaVega) finds herself thrust into the mystery surrounding the theft of a priceless necklace. As with all of the spunky amateur sleuths of the Hallmark variety, her unorthodox detective work uncovers a murder. Romance—of course—blossoms when she starts to work the case with the Willow Haven police department’s newest detective, Sam Acosta (her real life husband Carlos PenaVega from the boyband/TV series Big Time Rush). Helping out on the case is Sam’s Uncle Luis, himself a retired detective.

“Hey, wait a minute. What the hell, dude. Why is B&S About Movies going lame and reviewing Hallmark chick flicks?!?”

Hey . . . Dude. This one stars Ponch. So, chill, bro. He’s Uncle Luis in this one.

“Frank Poncherello? I thought he was dead. You know, like Snake Plissken?”

Nope. Ponch is still very much alive and still thespin’ for the cameras.

An actor’s gotta eat: Ponch goes Hallmark.

Since this is B&S About Movies, we should probably be reviewing Erik Estrada’s acting debut as a New York street gang member in actor Don Murray’s (Governor Breck in Conquest of the Planet of the Apes, Scorpion) writing and directing debut, The Cross and the Switchblade, the starring ‘50s crooner Pat Boone.

In fact, what we really need to do at B&S About Movies is to seriously dig in our heels and show Erik the love—beyond his work in Andy Sidaris’s Do or Die and Guns. Erik, like our beloved Eric Roberts and Nicolas Cage, reached incredible career highs—in Erik’s case, his six season run from 1977 to 1983 on CHIPs—and has settled into a successful niche career working on a plethora of direct-to-video films in the sci-fi, horror, and action . . . and now, romance genres.

But this is B&S About Movies, so the Erik Estrada movies we love over here are Enzo G. Castellari’s (Warriors of the Wasteland, 1990: The Bronx Warriors) Light Blast, Luis Llosa’s (Anaconda, The Specialist, Crime Zone) Hour of the Assassin, and Fred Olen Ray’s Spirits.

Director Ron Oliver’s prolific, 80-plus films resume includes about a half dozen Christmas movies. So you know what that means: we want an Erik Estrada Christmas movie in 2020, Ron. Make it happen!

Dead Over Diamonds, this second installment in the Hallmark Network’s new “Picture Perfect Mystery” franchise—the first was 2019’s Newlywed and Dead—debuts on Sunday, February 16 at 9 p.m EST. You can learn more about the movie at Hallmark Movies and Mysteries and watch the trailer.

For those of you who, even for Erik Estrada, are not going to do a “chick flick,” you can watch Light Blast and Hour of the Assassin on You Tube. Amazon had Spirits, but stopped streaming it and there are no online uploads.

Update: I’m not a Hallmark Channel kind of guy, but of course I watched this . . . so casting Erik Estrada* worked on me. It was great to see him on the screen again, especially beyond the sci-fi and horror films he usually does. I would have liked for Erik to have been it in more, and he doesn’t do much here, but the film, overall, is a well-shot, affable effort from Ron Oliver and writer Marcy Holland (of the SyFy Channel’s retro-fun, nature-run-amok romps Mississippi River Sharks, Ozark Sharks, and Trailer Park Shark). It’s also cool to see Alexa and Carlos beat the kid-actor-singer curse and transition into adult roles.

I’ve since found three of Ron Oliver’s older flicks for free on TubiTv—Chasing Christmas (with Tom Arnold, who’s pretty cool in the stuff he does, so I’ll check it out), Dark Skies (aka Black Rain, with Leslie Hope, again, a solid TV actress herself), and Something Evil Comes.

I just finished watching Something Evil; it’s a pretty decent Lifetime channel-styled killer-home invasion-during-a-thunderstorm thriller and Margot “Lois Lane” Kidder (Black Christmas, Amityville Horror) is really good in it. And I also watched Dark Skies, a sci-fi thriller about a scientist unleashing a biological agent—in the form of a toxic rain storm—and ransoming a city for profit. For a low-budget cable TV movie, it’s has a nice ’70s Drive-In B-Movie vibe.

*We’ve recently posted a review of the never-released Spring Break ’83 starring Erik Estrada as part of our “Box Office Failures Week” at B&S About Movies.

About the Author: You can read the music and film criticisms of R.D Francis on Medium and learn more about his work on Facebook.


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