Right up until his death in 1992, Anthony Perkins continued appearing in horror films and thrillers…and almost had his own horror TV show! I covered several of his psychotic non-Psycho roles here, so how about some more?
DAUGHTER OF DARKNESS (1990)
Here’s a film in which Perkins actually played a character that had his quirks, but was unlike Norman Bates. He’s so not Norman Bates in Daughter of Darkness that he takes on vampires!
This movie is pretty awful. Some chick goes to Romania looking for her father. She keeps having nightmares about a robed figure. She meets various weird characters, including Perkins, who sounds ridiculous trying to do a foreign accent.
Eventually, the main girl gets involved with a man who just happens to be a vampire, which leads to her having to save Perkins from a cult of vampires. However, it’s Perkins who has a physical altercation with the vamp, and it is totally laughable.
There’s one cool horror scene in the entire film. A vampire sucks blood from a woman…with what looks like an asshole that opens on the end of his tongue.
IN THE DEEP WOODS (1992)
Anthony Perkins once again acts creepy around a woman, but this time, he’s a private investigator.
Rosanna Arquette plays a woman thrust into the middle of a major killing spree after one of her friends becomes a victim of the “Deep Woods Killer.” The detective on the case wants to date her, and is played by Will Patton, who chased her around New York City for a pair of earrings in Desperately Seeking Susan!
But Arquette has a new boyfriend…who also might be the killer. And, Perkins keeps following her—his own daughter was a victim of the killer and he believes her brother did it.
In the Deep Woods is not a horror film. While there are several “kills,” it’s always the same. A woman turns around, seems to know the person approaching her, but then suddenly screams. Cut to the police investigating the scene where her body was dumped.
Arquette gets several chase scenes simply because she keeps running away from Perkins when he follows her. Plus, any of the four men in her life could be the killer, because the movie is basically just a series of scenes featuring the detective, the PI, the brother, and the boyfriend appearing guilty as Arquette plays the total helpless victim. It’s not even vaguely entertaining, but you do end up watching until the end to see who really did it.
THE GHOST WRITER (1990)
Would you believe Perkins shot a pilot episode for a sitcom? And would you believe it was horror related?
The Ghost Writer feels like something that would have aired Sunday mornings in the early 90s alongside shows like Saved by the Bell and Out of This World. Yeah, it’s that cheesy, but the very Munsters feel of the whole debacle makes it sort of forgivable.
Perkins plays a horror author and widower who has just remarried. His new wife and her daughter move into his perfectly gothic home. He has a notably dark, brooding, macabre son. The young daughter is afraid of both of them. The new wife is jealous of a portrait of the dead wife. So she removes it from the wall, which causes the dead wife’s ghost to come calling. And that gives Perkins inspiration for his next horror novel….
And that’s where the story ends, since a second episode never came. The comedy is campy, totally tongue-in-cheek, and frequently pokes fun at the horror legacy of Perkins. Characters often deliver deadpan lines right at the camera, and the humor falls flat more times than not, despite what sounds like a very tickled live audience—or more likely because of it. You end up rolling your eyes more at the fact that the audience laughed than because the jokes are so lame.
There are also a couple of awkward jokes—particularly now that we are quite aware Perkins lived his life in the Hollywood closet. First, he at one point threatens to discipline his son, to which the boy lustfully responds, “I love to be disciplined.” Sure, it might mean he innocently loves pain, but there’s a much more icky way to read it, especially since Perkins responds by noting that the boy leaves a tip after a spanking.” WTF?
Later, the boy says he’s sure he’s been speaking with Truman Capote through his Ouija board, because the board “speaks with a lisp.” The boy actually lisps the line. In general, he comes across very much like a young gay boy, just as he did in Near Dark (I blog about that issue here). Yes, the boy is played by Joshua John Miller, whose resume also includes Halloween III: Season of the Witch, Teen Witch, Class of 1999, Meet the Hollowheads, and the remake of The Wizard of Gore. Not to mention, Miller wrote the screenplay for The Final Girls.
I wish The Ghost Writer had been picked up because I totally would have watched the fuck out of this crap. And right now, I’d probably be whining on some message board somewhere that the half season it probably would have run has never been released on DVD.