Summer Girl (1983)

This movie is pure junk. In the words of Nicolas Cage, “That’s high praise.”

Gavin and Mary Shelburn (made for TV movie power couple Barry Bostwick and Kim Darby) don’t have a great marriage when the movie begins. It doesn’t get much better. They have two kids already — David Faustino from Married with Children is the boy and Laura Jacoby, Scott’s sister who was in Rad, is the girl — and now another one on the way. The pregnancy has been troublesome and Gavin already feels trapped.

Enter Cinni (Diane Franklin, who we may have mentioned on this site, fired the flames of teenage lust in movies like Better Off DeadThe Last American Virgin and gave weird feelings to us in the bleak scumfest Amityville II: The Possession), a young girl with a mysterious past that is the au pair that will help Mary with the kids. If I’ve learned anything from my decades of TV movie watching, it’s never ever hire an employee hotter than your spouse. Sure, she shows up dressed beyond conservatively for her first interview, but just seeing a photo of daddy Gavin sends her ladyparts into overdrive.

Of course, by the time the family goes to the beach for the summer — I refuse to feel badly for any family that can afford two houses — she’s ditched the dowdy look for a sundress that makes me remember, “Oh yeah, that’s Diane Franklin.”

Mary’s pregnancy means that she slowly grows dowdier as Cindi somehow gets even hotter, treating every man around her as a plaything. In fact, even Gavin’s mom can’t help but comment on her “hot little body.” Nearly everyone feels highly sexualized, except of course poor Mary.

Two years later, Franklin and Darby would be in much different roles in the aforementioned Better Off Dead, which is pretty amazing when you think about it. Franklin’s work here is great, as she’s all at once commanding of men, worried about growing as a woman and a devious planner who takes over an entire family. Oh yeah — she also killed her best friend and later takes care of that woman’s man, who she also stole. She’s a force of nature.

It’s also a movie that dares bring Murray Hamilton, as a philandering neighbor, back to the beach.

Toss in some occult, Bostwick falling for our villainess and as much skin as network TV would allow in 1983 and you have a movie that I’ll keep talking about as long as you’ll let me. It’s as if the makers of The Hand That Rocks the Cradle watched and said, “Can we just make this again with an actual budget?”

Honestly, Gavin is a complete jerk, but this was made in a time when men were not responsible for their penises. Hold on, I’m checking with the judges…and yes, it’s the same way now. Me, I’m on the side of Cinni. If this family and everyone around her is dumb enough to be seduced like this, they deserve it.

You can watch this on YouTube. And you should. Like right now.

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