During the pandemic of 2020, working mostly from home, I quickly discovered that I enjoyed working on my laptop, a cup of coffee beside me, with something playing on the TV. But it had to be the right something. A well-plotted movie or engaging TV show would be too distracting. I needed entertainment that was more on the level of white noise. I started out watching dumb scary movies–things like Deadly Detention, Stalker Club, Slumber Party Massacre–you get the picture.
When I ran out of those, I (re)discovered Lifetime movies. And what a treasure trove the Lifetime movie catalogue is. Movies that seem like they were written by a bored–sometimes horny–housewife with a loose grasp of motivation and plot. Stories where ordinary soccer moms find themselves embroiled in murder mysteries, where teen girls must fend off stalker heart surgeons, where a boss of a struggling ad agency begins to suspect that his over-eager secretary murdered his wife in hopes of replacing her.
These are stories you can let wash over you while you read a technical manual or debug a program. These are characters whose frenzied lives can keep you awake when the words on your screen start running together. Some are even stories you might want to return to someday. But they are such obscure TV-movies, with names that change depending on what platform hosts them, that finding them again can be difficult. And that is why I created this page: to catalogue and critique some of the dumb movies I’ve seen that I might someday want to re-see.
This is currently my favorite cheesy murder-mystery TV movie, partly because it’s so silly, partly because Shiri Appleby is so girl-next-door, and partly because the protagonist is a runner and I love it when a movie has characters who are runners. The premise is a woman happens upon a crime novel where the victim seems torn from the pages of her dearly departed sister’s diary and the victim’s murder also is exactly like her sister’s murder. She hunts down the novelist who admits he based the book on an actual murder but not her sister’s. They decide a serial killer must be on the loose and resolve to hunt the killer themselves. The protagonist is played by Shiri Appleby, who comes across as wholesome and lovable. The novelist is played by Chris Potter, who has been in a million TV movies and shows including Hallmark’s Good Witch films and a host of Lifetime thrillers including The Perfect Assistant and Rush of Fear. The production company was Incendo Productions.
A man’s wife dies leaving him a single parent, and his eager-to-please assistant steps in to fill the void. But maybe she’s a little too eager, and maybe his wife’s death wasn’t an accident. I watched this one because it stars Josie Davis who, besides being super hot, plays an amazing obsession-fueled villain in several Lifetime movies. Chris Potter playing the widower/father was a bonus. Production company: Lance Entertainment.
A detective whose mother was murdered in front of her when she was a little girl suspects a recent string of murders were perpetrated by her mother’s long-dormant killer. Oh and for some reason her boss partners her with her slutty ex-husband. This movie had all the ingredients for an entertaining, over-the-top TV movie but somehow just didn’t pull it off. The plot was just too incoherent with too many holes for even me to forgive. Production company: Incendo Productions.
A teenaged city girl gets raped while Skyping with her mom, so they move to the burbs. Things quickly heat up when the girl, played by Kelcie Stranahan, suspects a neighbor’s accidental death is actually a murder carried out by a vengeful neighbor. Of course her mother and the police dismiss her concerns, forcing her to take matters into her own hands. Katrina Norman plays the goody-goody niece of the murder victim (she literally goes to Jesus Camp). Grant Harvey plays the is-he-a-killer-or-misunderstood-hearthrob role. This is a movie in the tradition of Rear Window, The ‘Burbs, Disturbia, and The Neighbor, inter alia. Production co: Johnson Production Group (JPG).
A disapproving mother stalks her high-school-aged daughter’s frat bro boyfriend. When he’s murdered, you’d think she’d be the prime suspect; but, no, the police arrest the daughter instead. The daughter believes her mother is framing her for murder and hires a down-and-out private eye to get to the bottom of things. This might be the most over the top Lifetime movie of all time. It features identity theft, stalking, murder, a frame-up, kidnapping, car chases, even a bomb! It has it all, and I loved every minute of it. Production company: Johnson Management Group (JMG). Other titles: Stalked by My Mom.
Eric Roberts has to be the most prolific character actor of all time. IMDb has him in almost 600 titles as of September 2020. He will play literally any role that pays. For instance, the same year the first Stalked by My Doctor movie came out, he also played in The Human Centipede III and Rihanna’s Bitch Better Have My Money. Here he shines as Dr Albert Beck, a deranged heart surgeon with an unsavory and obsessive taste for teen girls. The first of this film series is my favorite (so far). It includes kidnapping, grave robbing (okay, mortuary robbing), a faked death, a car bomb, breaking-and-entering, attempted dismemberment, gaslighting, sexual assault (he kisses a sedated teen, played by Brianna Joy Chomer), and of course stalking. While the first movie is my favorite, the 2016 sequel is the most disturbing since the plot is straight out of the pedophile playbook (pedo dates parent to get access to child). Pro tip: The movies were made out of order and should be watched like this: 2015, 2018, 2016, 2019. Production co: JPG.
This is a teen slasher film with a pretty straightforward plot. A group of teens receives a text message asking if they’d like to join the Stalker Club. They dare each other into joining, and that’s when they start dying. The plot gets twisty-turny when it’s revealed that their parents were also in a Stalker Club in high school. Is this movie dumb? Yes. Would I watch a sequel? Yes. Hell, I would write the sequel. I watched it because it stars Kelcie Stranahan who I first saw in Stalked by My Neighbor. In one scene, she even wears the same outfit from the other movie. Production co: JPG.
A young boy disappears. Years later, almost immediately after the father’s death, a young man shows up saying he’s the long-lost son. At first he makes out like he’s there to meet the fam, but eventually he admits he’s there for inheritance, and he wants his in cash. When bad things start happening, the fam starts wondering if he’s who he says he is and if he killed their patriarch. This movie is okay but is so dumb it’s hard to enjoy. The only highlight is Paloma Guzmán (who played Ezra’s ex-fiancée in Pretty Little Liars). Alternate title: Her Son’s Secret. Production co: Synthetic Cinema.
A list of some of the dumb shit from The Wrong Son (spoiler alert):
(I) On the day her son disappears, Mom notices a creepy woman staring at her family. She apparently never bothers mentioning this to the authorities.
(II) Home alone in the middle of the night, Mom catches Wrong Son snooping around outside. As soon as he says, “I’m your son,” she brings him in for tea and lets him stay the night. Zero attempts to verify his identity first.
(III) Wrong Son’s story makes no sense, but Mom doesn’t question it. He disappeared on a beach in the middle of the day. There were searchers everywhere for days. The story was all over the local news. But the kindly man who found him never saw the news and neither did anyone at the hospital he took him to nor any of the social workers he interacted with before being placed in foster care? Hmmm.
(IV) When Wrong Son says he has no way to confirm his identity–no ID or school records or legal documents–everybody is just like, “Oh. Okay. That makes sense.”
(V) A family member gets seriously injured in a car accident that he suspects was the result of sabotage on the part of Wrong Son. Does he call the police? No! Does he have the car inspected? No! Disabled and in need of 24/7 care, he (a wealthy venture capitalist) agrees to move in with Wrong Son who has offered to care for him.
(VI) Wrong Son breaks into a venture capital firm’s ultramodern office building in the middle of the night undetected. There’s no indication of (1) how he managed it or (2) why he did it.
(VII) One of the characters is friends with a police detective. People get injured. People disappear. People die. Nobody calls the police.
(VIII) When Wrong Son tries to kill Disabled Character for the second time, and the character tells his wife, she doesn’t believe him. She says he’s too drugged up to know what’s real. Then she immediately initiates sex with him. He’s too drugged up to know what’s real but not too drugged up to consent to sex?
(IX) Disabled Character tells his mom about the first murder attempt and his wife about the second one but nobody about both.
(X) After his accident, which resulted in internal injuries requiring emergency surgery, Disabled Character wakes up not in a hospital but in his mother’s house?
(XI) The company Mom and Wrong Son use for a DNA test apparently does not have a website and does everything by snail mail.
(XII) A law firm is executing Patriarch’s will but has zero involvement in verifying Wrong Son’s identity.
(XIII) A bad guy just happens to have a rag full of chloroform handy when a do-gooder wanders onto their property.
(XIV) Every female character over 30, no matter her financial circumstances, has Hollywood housewife duckface.
A mentally ill woman (Danielle Savre) murders her deeply-devoted husband (Scott Gibson) after he tries to take her to a shrink. She starts a new life with the insurance money and immediately falls for her neighbor (Jefferson Brown of The Good Witch). But how to reel him in? And what to do about his pesky live-in girlfriend? This movie has a lot of fun stuff including murder, obsession, an amateur sleuth, a made-up stalker, an actual stalker, many cringey seduction attempts and several steamy fantasy sequences. Production co: Reel One Entertainment.
A high schooler is obsessed with latching on to other high school girls and turning them into social media influencers, and she’s incredibly good at it. The problem? She wants them to sign decade-long contracts with her; and, if they don’t, they die. This movie was fun to watch. It was a little hard to believe that a high schooler would be that good of a manager. It was also perplexing that, as obsessed with social media as she was, and as good at making viral content as she was, she didn’t just do the influencer thing herself. I thought everybody gave good performances. Morgan Taylor Campbell plays the antagonist and makes her almost believable which is saying something. Production co: Reel One Entertainment.
Two childhood best friends go off to college together, but only one makes it into a sorority. To stay in the sorority she has to unfriend her bestie–a sacrifice she proves willing to make. When she turns up dead, all fingers point to her former BFF. Finding herself a pariah on campus, the surviving friend (Greer Grammer) sets out to bring the killer to justice and clear her own name in the process. Murders, abductions, bullying, philandering, jealousy, frame-ups, suicide-with-a-question-mark, this movie has a lot to offer. The plot is way over the top, characters are cut out of cardboard, motivation is thin, cops are dumb as a box of rocks, but it’s a fun show all the same. Production co: Reel One Entertainment.
This is a dumb movie based on a dumb book and I thoroughly enjoyed it. The inciting incident is a psycho stalker sees a pretty girl (Janel Parrish) reading a book called The Purple Rose (which is the name of the book the movie is based on–no idea why the movie isn’t just called The Purple Rose) and starts leaving purple roses on her doorstep. Obsession turns to murder turns to serial murder. The whole movie came across as a female masturbatory fantasy to me. There are three kinds of men in this movie: (1) good guys who just want to protect the damsel in distress while showering her with platonic affection, (2) good guys who are wealthy and hot and want to marry the damsel in distress, and (3) bad guys who want to rape and murder the damsel in distress but are of course ultimately doomed because there are just so many good guys orbiting the magnetic little lady. And oh my god the theme song is so bad. Production companies: Wassat Productions; Go2 Chroma, LLC; The Purple Rose, LLC.
A business mogul who looks suspiciously like an over-the-hill Hollywood housewife is about to give her beautiful but young and painfully naive daughter a million dollar lump sum inheritance. Then she finds out Daughter has met a mystery man who is rushing her to marry him. Is he who he says he is? Is he in love with Daughter or her money? And who’s that strange lady who seems to be following him around? This movie was so so so dumb yet somehow entertaining. The daughter was way too educated, attractive and rich to be that insecure. Probably would not watch it again, but it was a fun if mind-numbing ride. Production co: Reel One Entertainment.
I watched this because it stars Josie Davis who I am officially in love with. This is the first movie I’ve see her in where she plays the good guy. The premise is: A woman (Josie) marries a man who has a daughter he hasn’t seen in years. One day the estranged daughter shows up and says her mom kicked her out. Dad and Stepmom happily take her in. But things get ugly when Stepdaughter’s BFF dies a violent death and she seems to bask in the sympathy and celebrity it brings her. Claws come out when Stepmom’s attempts to reign in Stepdaughter’s sociopathic behavior are met with escalating vitriol and violence. I liked the movie, but I definitely prefer when Josie is the bad guy. Production co: Reel One Entertainment.
A woman’s (Brooke Nevin of I’ll Always Know What You Did Last Summer) friends and family are dropping like flies and the results of a DNA test suggest the killer is a relative. This movie was surprisingly well done with good direction, camera work and a fast-paced script with fewer plot holes than the typical Lifetime thriller. The acting however is atrocious. Would watch again; if fact, I already have. Production co: Reel One Entertainment.
A high school teacher (former teen model and soap star Jessica Morris) with a lackluster love life throws caution to the wind and lets a one night stand (Philip McElroy) pound her in her classroom late one night. Unfortunately, that one night stand turns out to be a high school student who enrolls in her class the following semester. To make things worse, he’s a psycho stalker who will stop at nothing to either have her or destroy her. Eric Roberts has a small role as Vice Principal Clark. I am looking forward to The Wrong Fiancé which is supposed to come out this year and also stars Jessica Morris. Production co: Hybrid, LLC.
This is similar to other obsessed-woman flicks like The Perfect Stalker and The Perfect Assistant. In this one, a young medical student will do anything to take the place of her middle-aged instructor’s ailing wife, including kill. And kill she does. There is more background and character development in this film than the others mentioned, and the result is a more believable character and story. The plot includes murder, suicide, a frame-up, and stalking. Production co: Reel One Entertainment.
This movie is hot garbage. I got maybe ten minutes into it and couldn’t take it anymore. Looks and sounds like it was shot on a flip phone. Director: Ulli Lommel. Other titles: Boogeyman.
A woman’s husband dies. A suicide note is found nearby. The police write it up as a suicide, but his widow suspects foul play. This movie was about as incoherent as they come. I had a hard time keeping up with all the characters, subplots and twists and turns. Also, the hitman was played by a goofy looking guy with a man bun. Production co: LRPD, LLC.
Katrina Begin plays an unhinged party planner who is obsessed with the teen girl whose sweet sixteen party she is planning. And she’s a two-time murderer. And she plies children with drugs and booze. And she blackmails people into doing her bidding. The story features murder, stalking, blackmail and an assortment of other bad behavior. Production co: Beta Film GMBH.
A woman gets knocked-up by her married boss who freaks out when she tells him she’s prego but then turns around and invites her on vacation with him. At their destination, our protagonist discovers the wife has followed them and is understandably miffed. Does Boss love Protagonist? Is he really divorcing Wife? Did he bring Protagonist there to kill her? Is Wife trying to kill her? And what about his last girlfriend who died under mysterious circumstances? Fun movie, but the characters are all kinda garbage people. Production co: Reel One Entertainment.
A man dies in a hit-and-run “accident” and three women discover that (1) they’re all married to him and (2) they’re all murder suspects. Who killed him? Will they kill again? What other secrets was Husband keeping from them? And what secrets might they be keeping from each other? They’ll have to become frenemies to find out! This movie includes bigamy, murder, suicide, girl fights, secret bank accounts, sooo much blackmail (emotional and otherwise), back-stabbing, a drive-by, a goon-for-hire, a host of felonies and at least one person screaming in a very crazy voice, “I’m not crazy!” Erin Karpluk plays the stolid protagonist, but Kate Corbett steals the show as a clownishly psychotic rival wife. Like Killer Vacation, I liked this move, but I didn’t like any of the characters, so I probably wouldn’t watch it again. AKA: Rule of 3. Production co: Incendo Media, Inc.
A young woman reacts violently to any minor inconvenience. Yep. That pretty much sums it up. I know that doesn’t sound like a good movie, but Yvonne Zima (Geena Davis’s daughter in The Long Kiss Goodnight and Tom Sizemore’s child hostage in Heat) plays Gillian with this casually-sinister black-widow-in-the-making vibe that I enjoyed watching. The story was idiotic, and I look forward to a sequel. Production co: Lance Entertainment, Inc.
A garbage found-footage film about some friends with a YouTube channel who put an ad in the paper seeking “monsters” to interview on camera. Boring, poorly written, poorly acted, poorly shot with shit special effects. I fast-forwarded to a scene where Yvonne Zima plays a mischievous vampire then I turned it off. Production co: Epic Pictures (really I think they were just the distributor).
This is one of those movies that’s really dumb but everyone in it is really hot so you almost don’t mind. The premise is a hot older man (Max Ryan) who is also a rich and famous conductor likes to fuck the youngest, dumbest, prettiest girls in his orchestra (eg Helena Mattsson) while keeping them in the dark about (1) the fact that he’s married and (2) the fact that his girlfriends tend to die before they’re old enough to drink. This plot has sex, murder, jealousy, betrayal, kidnapping, and so many holes it must’ve been written at Camp Green Lake. Also starring Danielle C. Ryan (of Stalked by My Mom fame). Original title: Swipe Right, Run Left. Production companies: Nasser Group & Left Foot Productions.
An unhappily-married woman (Kate Villanova) has a one night stand with an instagram-model-lookin’ dude (Matthew MacCaull) who then stalks her and her entire family. There were some major plot holes but none so egregious as to ruin the movie for me. Also, the three main characters are all pretty, so that helps. Includes infidelity, stalking, blackmail, kidnapping, violence, a private eye, a setup, and a mad man tying a woman to a tree and then going on a rant about his wristwatch. Production co: Reel One Entertainment.
Traumatized by a sadistic home-invader, Ashley Scott (the slutty nurse in Just Friends) signs up for martial arts classes, but her instructor (David Cade) is no Mr Miyagi, and the final exam is pass-or-die. So dumb but entertaining. Probably wouldn’t watch again, mostly because the main character is boring. Includes murder, kidnapping, obsession, one of those wimpy-kid-learns-to-fight montages, and a 5-foot-9 former model snapping the bones of men twice her size in very unbelievable fight scenes. Production co: Maple Island Films.
Josie Davis plays a high school teacher who isn’t afraid to show off her assets, or to use them to get what she wants, and she’s got her sights set on her dumb-jock student (Cameron Deane Stewart) whose good-girl girlfriend (Kelcie Stranahan) has left him with a terminal case of blue balls. This film dishes stalking, murder, child abuse, mental illness, an elaborate frame-up, a detective (Lesli Kay) who looks like she thinks she’s in an Anne Rice novel, and of course a high school teacher seducing her student. Production companies: JPG & Shadowland.
A sociopathic high-schooler with daddy issues (Megan Park) falls hard for her teacher (David Charvet), and anyone who gets in her way is gonna get hurt. This story reminded me of Dirty Teacher with the stalker and stalkee roles reversed. The two movies even feature similar murders followed by less-similar frame-ups. Production co: Thrill Films Inc, Capital Productions (SV) Inc, Corus Entertainment Inc.
This is a meh scary movie that combines found-footage with normal film. The premise is a tired one: some ghost hunters go to a haunted house and get more than they bargained for. It’s a boring plot with a decent ending. I only watched it because Megan Park is in it. An example of the kinds of things that make me dislike this movie: The ghost hunters have to traipes through the woods to get to the haunted house because it’s so remote and neglected, but when they get there the lawn has obviously been recently mowed (eye roll). Production cos: Dimension Films, First Point Entertainment.