Thursday, February 19, 2015

Lady in White (1988)

A recent visit to a thrift store in Alberta paid off for this film fan.

While visiting my brother, I found The Lady in White in a stack of VHS movies for 50 cents.

I watched this film when it was released in 1988.

My memory is enjoying a spooky film that wasn't filled with blood and guts.

What would I think of this feature film, one of just a few directed by Frank LaLoggia, 27 years later?

Lady in White still stands up fairly well, due largely to the fine work by Lukas Haas as lead character Frankie.

This young lad, locked in his class cloakroom as a prank, sees the ghost of a girl who was murdered a decade ago.

Her spirit is not at rest, until she can be reunited with her mother who killed herself after her death.

Frankie has a clue, a ring he found in a furnace duct he thinks can be tied to the murderer.

There's a few gaping moments in reality in this film. Unfortunately this is one. Why would the suspect wait so many years for a chance to retrieve a key piece of evidence? Were the investigators too dense to search the area at the time for clues?

What's also disappointing about this mystery is just how easy it is to figure out who the killer is. I don't remember much about this film after 27 years, but quickly picked out the killer. I'm usually pretty slow in this department.

A silly subplot about Frankie's grandparents - grandpa wants to smoke, grandma wants him to butt out - keeps reappearing. It's silly and not very funny.

What is creepy about Lady in White is the depiction of a child killer, a rare sight on screen these days. There's a good use of Bing Crosby's take on the Harry Revel and Mack Gordon song, Did You Ever See a Dream Walking?, sung by the dead child, Melissa (Joelle Jacobi).

The use of what appears to be a faux forest and liberal use of a dry ice machine are distracting. The film's finale drags on too long. We get not one, but two false deaths.

Lady in White touches lightly on racial discrimination in the United States in the 1960s, but this too is largely a wasted subplot.

The cast also includes Len Cariou (Thirteen Days ), Katherine Helmond (Cars) and Renata Vanni (Three Coins in the Fountain )

I'm glad I finally found Lady in White. It's pretty expensive to find a copy online. It's good to see creepy efforts, without explicit violence, but Lady in White is marred by numerous weaknesses. Too bad, but great work Lukas Haas.

RATING: 7/10

FUN FACTS: Bruno Kirby appears as a cab driver.

Hey, that's Lucy Lee Flippin as Frankie's teacher. She was Eliza Jane Wilder on television's Little House on the Prairie.

Jared Rushton, the up-to-no-good classmate of Frankie's, was Billy in Big with Tom Hanks.

Lady in White is the only film appearance by Melissa Anne Montgomery. She later appeared in two television movies. That's it.

Has anyone seen the director's cut? I'd be curious to know what's different.

Cheapest copy on Amazon as of this writing in March 2015 - $16.83 US.

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