Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Steel And Lace

A pretty good idea for a revenge flick from the pens of Joseph Dougherty (PRETTY LITTLE LIARS) and Dave Edison could sustain a 21st century remake, I think. Despite the title and concept, STEEL AND LACE is not a Charles Band production, but was instead made by Charles Fries, who made a lot of not-so-great television, and directed by the inventive Ernest Farino, whose background was in animation and special effects.

Bruce Davison, who shot this film between LONGTIME COMPANION and the Golden Globe and Academy Award nominations it earned him, stars as Albert Morton, an obsessed robot designer who goes off the rails after the rape and ensuing suicide of his sister Gaily (Clare Wren). The rich guy who did it, Daniel Emerson (Michael Cerveris), was acquitted at trial because his rich and equally corrupt buddies falsely alibied him. Albert, unwilling to let any of them off the hook, builds a robot that looks exactly like Gaily, outfits it with some fancy weaponry, and sics it on the rapists. Of course, she’s a sexy robot double who seduces the men in disguise before she wastes them.

Basically a slasher movie with a sci-fi twist (Gailybot’s methods of killing include burning, drilling, and head-chopping), STEEL AND LACE is imaginatively directed (the film opens with the leadup to the rape intercut with the jury’s verdict for efficient storytelling) and very well acted by Wren (THE YOUNG RIDERS) and Davison, who is clearly slumming, but not sleepwalking. Because Farino only had Davison for a limited number of days (one presumes), the film is padded with is a parallel plot featuring investigating cop Dunn (David Naughton) and his girlfriend, Alison (Stacy Haiduk, whose chainsmoking is annoying), a sketch artist. Both are appealing performers, but their storyline is mainly wheel-spinning, and we can’t wait for them to finish their scene so we can get back to Davison’s ravings and Wren’s slaughtering. At least the Naughton investigation gives us an entertaining David L. Lander (USED CARS) as a wisecracking coroner.

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