Shattered Illusions (1998)

Lynn Richards (Collette O’Connell, guest roles on TV’s Law and Order: Criminal Intent and CSI: Crime Scene Investigations) is an (expositional) small town Christian radio psychologist (who babbles about “conquering life’s illusions,” thus the title) who lands the gig of a lifetime: a drive time airshift on KBST “K-Best 98 FM” Los Angeles.

Of course, all radio stations in the “radio psycho” universe suffer from low ratings and ad revenues. And we know this, thanks to station manager Richard Lynch—yes, Ankar Moor from friggin’ Deathsport—telling us “K-Best” is getting killed in the ratings by its main competitor. “We just lost five more shares to KTLL!” Ankar Moor snipes at Pee Wee—yes, it’s Dan Monahan from the Porky’s franchise, as the station’s program director.

Oh, yeah. This movie had me at “Ankar Moor.” Richard Lynch as a working stiff running a radio station? He’s not kicking someone’s ass or shedding any blood? I’m all in.

“But he’s at least the serial killing stalker, right?”

Nope.

“Is he at least a ‘red herring’ and we think he’s the serial killer?”

Nope.

“Oh, then Pee Wee, the ‘80s version of McLovin from Superbad, is the serial killer?”

Nope.

“Is he a ‘red herring’?”

Nope.

Of course, as with any female radio psychologist of the Lifetime cable channel variety, Lynn’s harboring her own personal demons and could use a shrink of her own. But wait, she’s already been through psychiatric treatment as result of her attempted teenaged suicide—a suicide that resulted from the depression of her alcoholic father Henry (Bruce Weitz of TV’s Hill Street Blues, Judging Amy, ER) causing a car wreck (tightly shot “flashbacks” of grimacing faces amid few shards of glass) that killed a family, killed her mother, mentally damaged her little sister (now a teen that she takes care of), and sent her father to jail for 12 years.

Hey, maybe Dr. Angie (Morgan Fairchild!), the obligatory “bitchy” psychologist (I guess the producers settled when Joan Collins didn’t return their calls) can help Lynn? Nah, Dr. A’s got a bone to pick with Lynn: Pee Wee promised the drive time shift to her.

“Oh, so Morgan Fairchild goes psycho!”

Nope.

“Is she a ‘red herring’?”

Nope.

“Dude, this movie sounds like it sucks.

Yeah, this psycho pool has a bad case of red algae that killed off all of the herrings and not even a dose of Richard Lynch, a pinch of Pee Wee, and the familiar face of ‘80s TV actor Sy Richardson from Rudy Ray Moore’s Petey Wheatstraw (and Bad Dreams, Repo Man, Sid and Nancy, the list goes on and on) as the detective can change the pH balance and stop the aquatic carnage.

It’s not that this first time—and only—effort by the female writing and directing team of Toni Callas and Becky Best is incompetent. Sure, we’ve seen better, and there are films are that far worse—way worse (the somewhat similar “radio psycho” romp Open House comes to mind). All of the “parts” are there for Shattered Illusions to be an edge of your seat neo-noir of the Basic Instinct variety (a radio talk host instead of novelist).  But there’s no mystery, suspense, or thrills—as is the case with the low-budget stalked-female-radio host romps of the Lifetime variety. And outside of Lynch and Sy Richardson, the acting is dreadful. If you ever wondered why you never saw Pee Wee in anything after Porky’s, this movie answers that question.

“So why do they keep having their ‘meetings’ in the restroom? Why is The Lynch looking up under stalls at Pee Wee? Is it a Porky’s homage?”

Uh, I guess so.

“Okay, so who’s the serial stalker? Is it her father who just got released from prison?

Nope.

“Is it the no-name actor that plays the school teacher who rehabilitated Lynn’s sister, the one with whom Lynn’s now having a torrid love affair?”

Nope.

When Lynn was locked up in the nuthouse, Adam (familiar TV actor Leland Crooke from Charmed and Angel), one of the inmates from her group therapy sessions, fell in love with her—and he was heartbroken when she was released. Then, he heard the voice of his lost love return on the radio. So he goes “Michael Myers” and breaks out. And he kills his doctor and house squats—and builds a doll house, complete with little paper doll replicas of him and Lynn. And he collects portable radios and has them all tuned to KBST. And he kills a dog that Lynn complains about on the air. And he kidnaps her brutish neighbor (Michael Horse of TNT’s Claws and the 2017 Twin Peaks series reboot) that she complained about on the air. If Lynn complains about it, like the car repair guy that screwed her, Adam “fixes it” and calls into the show with an update.

Now, Ankar Moor was never on board with hiring a Christian radio host in the first place, and the station’s board of directors is on his ass: “It’s been two weeks and her numbers aren’t up!” so Ankar wants to fire her. But Pee Wee is the type of program director who thinks that animals and people dying at the hands of a serial killer obsessed with one of their hosts is “publicity that money can’t buy.”

At least they shot inside a real (and uncredited) Los Angeles radio station. And Ankar Moor, Pee Wee, and Morgan all “sound” like real radio people.

My suggestion: Don’t buy any ad time on KBST and change the frequency so the ratings tank and Ankoor Moor can flip the format and get his ad rates up. Better yet: he’s gets fired and washes out of the radio industry. Then he’ll fall headfirst into a wicked gambling addiction, develop a severe case of germaphobia, and create a bogus knock off of Rollerball in Ground Rules.

To say Shattered Illusions is an out-of-print obscurity is an understatement; there are DVDs out there in the online marketplace, but be wary: they look like grey-market rips to me. It took some digging, but we found a copy on a new, free streaming service called Echelon First Run Films. There’s lots of great stuff on the site with films you can’t find on TubiTV or Vudu, so check ‘em out.

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

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