How to even begin with this 1990 (aka:late 80s) horror film that I just pulled off my DVD shelf for a viewing? I guess you could call it Snow White meets Carrie. Sounds horrible, I know. But somehow, it works for a 1990 (aka: late 80s) horror film.
For starters, the movie begins with girl on girl action—and by that I mean, girl on girl slashing! In front of a mirror. And it’s brutal. Now that’s my kind of movie. But naturally, this is just the prologue. It’s when we get to the actual story that the fun really begins.
First, there’s the presence of scream queen Karen Black and laugh queen Lily Munster (who racked up a couple of good horror movie credits in her later years). Recently widowed Karen and her daughter are moving into the house where the mysterious mirror resides. Lily Munster works at some sort of antique shop and wants to take all the old items left in the house by the previous tenants for her shop. She leaves the mirror, probably because she’s too distracted by the books she finds on black magic and the occult.
This mirror is the perfect centerpiece for the bedroom of our female lead, Megan. Megan looks pretty much EXACTLY like Winona Ryder in Beetlejuice, which is why all the popular kids at school end up treating her like she’s Carrie. Luckily, Megan makes at least one friend, and no, it’s not her gym teacher. Typical high school bully stuff goes on, making it clear that Megan is going to need to tap into the evil within the mirror to get some nice brutal revenge on her antagonists.
It’s really the mirror that “taps” Megan when she essentially gets her sexy on with her own reflection as the mirror drips blood. When the mirror is done with her, it has magically transformed her into what looks like that sexy 1990 one-hit-wonder Alannah Myles (if Megan had grabbed a hairbrush microphone and started singing “Black Velvet” into the mirror while shaking her new perm, my life would have been complete). Once she’s gotten the Olivia Newton-John Grease makeover treatment, Megan has the power to make the popular jock boy fall for her, which leads to a very The Craft moment—but, you know, with a mirror.
Megan’s metamorphosis into an evil and sexy murderess is just icing on the cake when you have Karen Black around. As usual, this be-otch is crazy! Karen has some awesome, campy, googily-eyed lines in this film and deserved more. She even ends up hooking up with the guy she calls from the Pet Sematary (I mean…cemetery).
There are two genuinely creepy moments in the film: a visit from Megan’s “father” in the middle of the night as well as what eventually comes out of the mirror. They could support a much freakier horror film if the filmmakers had opted to exploit them (which is what would probably happen if this film were remade today).
Other than those two scenes, while the film has a great creepy atmosphere and pretty excellent gore scenes, it’s not essentially a scary movie. And the ending scene—oh man, I was having flashbacks to the end of The Exorcist II: The Heretic, when Regan returns to her home where she was possessed and there’s bright blue light shining through all the windows, crap flying everywhere, doors banging, and the entire house rocking on its foundation. All that’s missing in Mirror, Mirror are those darned locusts. Which, you know, is the one thing that saves Mirror, Mirror from having a totally busted ending. That and the freaky thing that comes out of the mirror. You simply have to see this film if just for that ending.