Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Lady in White (1988)

I wonder how much of this movie that's real? Frank LaLoggia, the director, plays the main character himself when he's grown up (and his name is Frankie), but in the movie Frankie is a writer and not director. He obviously based much of the family and the Frankie-character on himself, and the result is a helluva original movie. This was the eighties and Joe Dante and Spielberg where the childhood-memory-masters, and I would put this movie together with E.T, The Goonies, the Stephen King book It and of course Stand by Me. Frank LaLoggia creates a universe that's both a colorful fairytale, but also a deeply disturbing look at smalltown-USA. 

Willowpoint Falls is a typical american small town in 1962. There lives Frankie (Lukas Haas) with his father, brother the fathers italian parents. The mother is dead since a couple of years back and Frankie lives in a fantasy-world of monsters and terror. Which he loves of course. He's already a talented writer, but maybe a bit naive. One evening he's locked into the cloakroom by two of his friends, and there he witnesses the ghost-murder of a little girl. Seconds later the real killer, we don't see his face, is stumbling in looking for a piece of evidence that's fell down in the drain. He sees Frankie and tries to strangle him, but something happens and the killer leaves the boy believed to be dead. But Frankie isn't dead, he's just convinced that someone in town still is killing and molesting little children and now he needs to find the killer... 

Not long after this the ghost of the little girl is starting to haunt him, and is she somehow connected to the Lady in White - the mysterious ghost running around the cliffs...

So we have one part murder-mystery, one part ghost-story and one part growing-up-comedy. And all the pieces fits perfect together. The fall and winter-locations is beautiful and though the bluescreen-work seldom works really good (but if you look at it as one piece, without focusing on the details, it's visual delight), it never breaks the magic. It's almost like a family-movie, but with the themes of child-murder, pedophilia, racism, revenge and trying to cope with sorrow - this is one unique movie!

Lukas Haas was ten years when he shot the movie (they started in 1986) and he almost to perfect as the weird and charming Frankie. His father is played by Alex Rocco and makes a fantastic dad, one of those really good guys that you would like to have as a father yourself. They are surrounded by a lot of fine character-actors.

It wasn't so scary as I thought it would be, but it has enough creepy moments for us horror-fans. But the most disturbing stuff is a scene at the end where Frankie is confronted with the killer, without knowing it, and the atmosphere get's really, really strange. And it has nothing to do with ghosts, just real human terror...

A masterpiece. Yes. This one of them.

1 comment:

Phantom of Pulp said...

Agree that this is a great movie.

I like his FEAR NO EVIL quite a bit, too.

A unique sensibility.