John Llewellyn Moxey will never let you down. The man knew how to make TV movies filled with menace and dread. Take a look at his record of success — The House That Would Not Die, The Last Child, A Taste of Evil, The Night Stalker, Home for the Holidays, Where Have All the People Gone?, Nightmare In Badham County, Killjoy, Desire the Vampire — and see a group full of proven suspense winners.
Really, Moxley is making a giallo here. Stick with me.
First, just take a look at the VHS cover art for how this was sold overseas* as Soon, Amy, Soon.
Now let me let you in on the plot: After leaving class, 20-year-old art student named Amy Manning (Kathleen Beller, who is nearly the Edwige Fenech of 70s and 80s TV movies about young girls in trouble with roles in this, Are You in the House Alone? and Deadly Messages; she’s also married to Thomas Dolby, a fact that amuses me beyond belief) gets in her car and is menaced by a masked, leather-gloved and knife-wielding maniac who whispers, “Soon, Amy. Soon.”
This is not the first time this has happened and the cops refuse to help her any longer. Only her stepmother Adele (Mariette Hartley) believes her and urges her to visit psychiatrist Dr. Letterman (Keir Dullea, who knows a thing or two about American — err, Canadian — giallo-esque films thanks to Black Christmas).
Could Amy’s issues be daddy-related? After all, he drowned on a trip she was supposed to go on, leaving her in the care of her stepmother. Or is there really a killer coming after her? After all, he keeps showing up every time she’s alone. And he’s sent her flowers. Or maybe she ordered them herself!
This film understands that not all giallo is offing gorgeous female characters, but also the gaslighting that comes with driving the central character to explore her psychosis. And just how does that hunky new man (Gary Graham from the TV version of Alien Nation) fit in?
Originally airing on March 4, 1981 on CBS, this is a film that has so many twists and turns, even switching the main character partway through the film and amping up the psychological trauma. It benefits from a tight script by Jimmy Sangster, who also wrote The Legacy; Scream, Pretty Peggy; Whoever Slew Auntie Roo?; and tons of stuff for Hammer including Dracula Prince of Darkness, The Revenge of Frankenstein; The Mummy and more. He also wrote one of the best non-Bond Eurospy films, Deadlier than the Male.
This is the kind of movie that makes me realize why I love TV movies. A quick plot, some murky darkness, great performances and an amazing last scene reveal that made me literally leap from my seat. You gotta check this on out.
*It was released in Brazil as The Eternal Escape, as Nightmare in France, Without Escape in Spain and Shadow of Evil in Germany.
You can watch this on YouTube.