Killjoy (1981)

You may have also seen this movie under the name Who Murdered Joy Morgan? Either way, it’s a very early role for Kim Basinger, who plays Laury Medford, a woman caught between two men, pursued by a driven older detective (Robert Culp) and way more than she appears.

Dr. Max Heller (Stephen Macht, The Monster Squad) and Dr. Paul Trenton (John Rubinstein, The Boys from Brazil) are the two men after Laury, who may or may not be the murdered Joy Morgan, who may or may not exist. What is real is the fact that Dr. Paul is totally dominated by his mother (Nancy Marchand, who would go on to an even more famous matron role in The Sopranos as Tony’s mother Livia).

What moves the story forward is when a bartender hands Laury and Paul an envelope meant for Max — who has become Laury’s fiancee, mind you — with keys and a love letter for that mystery woman Joy Morgan. Inside an apartment, they find Max’s new coat and a framed photo of him, which seems like a set-up, because whoever marries Laury is going to move on up, seeing as how her father is a big boss at the hospital where they should all really be working.

The real mystery is Joy, who may have been the woman we see killed in a POV shot in the beginning or a fake actress set up to act as her or even a woman who didn’t exist in the first place. Or maybe she’s been Laury all along. The film really piles on the tension until its morgue-set close.

This is the kind of whodunit that made for TV movies were made for. And who better than John Llewellyn Moxey to be at the helm? This was written by Sam Rolfe, who also created The Man from U.N.C.L.E. and Have Gun will Travel.

You can watch this on YouTube and tear up at that U.S.A. Home Video logo at the beginning like I did.

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