Drew Barrymore didn’t go from Firestarter to Scream without some terror in between! So I take on three of her thrillers leading up to her big Scream opening.
FAR FROM HOME (1989)
Far From Home came out when I was working at the video store way back when, and I never actually paid attention to it—just put it on in the store one day assuming it was as bad a road trip movie as it looks and sounds. MAN, was this movie mis-marketed. It is basically a wacky trailer trash slasher!
Drew is a teen traveling in bum fuck with her dad. They run out of gas and are forced to stay at a trailer park overnight. As Drew gets hot for a local trailer trash bad boy (the brother from Elm Street 4), people in the trailer park start getting knocked off! There’s plenty of killer POV as someone finds unique ways to put out the trash!
It all leads up to Drew’s final chase scene with the killer, but before that, the show is totally stolen by the late Susan Tyrrell, who brings on her trademark zany humor. Indeed, Far From Home is essentially a dark comedy slasher.
Adding to the quirky cast of characters is Jennifer Tilly, one of the dudes from Barney Miller, tractor guy from Gremlins, and Harry’s blond co-worker/love interest on Night Court. Not Markie Post. The other one. Not Ellen Foley. The other one. How did that show stay on for so long?
POISON IVY (1992)
Lolita meets Fatal Attraction when Drew becomes Poison Ivy. This movie was also Sara Gilbert’s one attempt to step out of her Darlene role from Roseanne…by playing a Darlene role in a movie. Being a moody loner who mouths off to her mom, she is immediately attracted to Drew, the new girl in school, even though the first thing she sees Drew do is bash a hurt dog to death with a pipe.
The premise for Poison Ivy is actually ridiculous. Sara’s mom, played by Cheryl Ladd, is very sick. When Sara brings home rebellious Drew. Cheryl hates her…but within no time, Drew moves out of her aunt’s house and in with them! Soon after, Drew is seducing the dad, played by Tom Skerritt. She’s also throwing out lesbian vibes to Sara to distract her. A good part of this movie is simply the erotic journey of a bratty teenage home wrecker.
Finally, Drew snaps. I guess the plan of this girl whose background we learn nothing about, but who is happily welcomed into the home of strangers, is to get rid of Cheryl and become the new mommy of the teenage friend with whom she’s having a pseudo-lesbian romance. This really is a stupid movie. And don’t expect much in the way of murder or suspense. It’s all rushed in the last quarter of the movie because most of the film’s running time is used to show Drew Barrymore and Tom Skerritt having sex.
In Doppelganger, Drew plays a young woman who runs from New York to L.A. after her mother is murdered by someone Drew believes to be her double. We actually see the mother getting stabbed with a knife and it is so wickedly vicious—Drew goes wild! And it’s not the last vicious blade slicing in the film!
Once in L.A., Drew gets a male roommate. Before long she’s trying to convince him that she has a doppelganger and she believes the doppelganger followed her from New York. So the dude starts having an affair with Drew, even though she acts different every time they’re together, does crazy shit like knee Danny Trejo in the balls, and dance erotically at a party to a song that sounds like something from Enigma (it was 1993, after all), turning on everyone there, including the dude from The Frighteners.
This flick is pretty trippy, loaded with wacked blood and sex dream sequences, and you’re pretty sure that Drew has a split personality and is actually her own doppelganger. Yet weird supernatural shit seems to happen at times, so you don’t know what the frick is going on. It’s all very engrossing and has the feel of De Palma’s Body Double. But the movie starts to run too long, with a bunch of melodrama between the roommate and his female friend and Drew’s weird behavior getting too weird to even follow.
But then, we get to the final crazy scene, a big twist—and TOTAL SPOILER—a fricking big gory monster! WTF? This final freaky scene makes Doppelganger one weird as hell horror flick! I just wish a good fifteen minutes had been edited out of the film to tighten it up and get us to this last scene sooner!