Perkins: still a psycho in the 1990s

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)

daughter of darkness cover

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.

daughter of darkness perkins

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.

daughter of darkness tongue

I’M DANGEROUS TONIGHT (1990)

im dangerous tonight cover

It’s directed by Tobe Hooper. Horror names like Anthony Perkins and Dee Wallace get top billing. It was also made for the USA Network in 1990, so I am going to give it the trashing it deserves, complete with a spoiler-filled summary of every ridiculous moment.

This film is a fucking mess. A college professor gets a giant sacrificial altar shipped to him. He opens it, finds a red cloth on a mummy inside, dons it, and immediately kills the security guard.

im dangerous tonight altar

Next, we meet our main girl, Madchen Amick (Twin Peaks, Sleepwalkers, Witches of East End). Her college teacher is Anthony Perkins because, well, Anthony Perkins needs to be in this movie.

im dangerous tonight perkins

She buys a trunk with that red cloth in it at an estate sale, touches it and gets visions of that professor also killing his family, takes the trunk to the college theater, and watches as the guy she likes almost kills his co-star during what is supposed to be a fake sword fight while wearing the red cloth. So…she takes it home and makes it into a dress.

Meanwhile, her parents are dead and she lives with her aunt (Bob’s wife from his 80s Newhart show), where she spends all her time caring for her grandmother (Mrs. Thurston Howell III, stuck in a wheelchair in a horrible wig and unable to talk) while her cousin gets to go out and have fun.im dangerous tonight grandma

But then Madchen puts on the dress, shows up at the club where her cousin is dancing to muzak not even senior citizens would want to party to, and then seduces the cousin’s boyfriend. Oh, and there’s Anthony Perkins lurking in a corner, because Anthony Perkins needs to be in this movie.

im dangerous tonight club

Problem is, Madchen’s fun, slutty side goes away as soon as she is in the backseat of the guy’s car and the dress comes off. So she runs home, making sure to take the dress with her, where her grandmother struggles to wrestle it from her…in her wheelchair…at the top of the stairs. Forget that we know what’s going to happen. Why exactly does homebound Mrs. Howell look so terrified of this dress that was made from a cloth found in an altar sent to a professor at a college?

Madchen tries to hide the dress that killed her granny. The cousin wants the dress since it makes her boyfriend so horny, so she steals it. And she wears it as she kills her boyfriend in the shower. He’s hot.

im dangerous tonight shower

Next, the dress uses its GPS powers to lead the cousin to the car Madchen is sitting in with the guy she likes even though he tried to kill a fellow actor with a sword. There’s a car chase and cousin goes careening off the road in a fiery explosion.

im dangerous tonight car sitting

Somehow, that dress survived the fire. And suddenly Dee Wallace is wearing it, and is about to sell her bod to a guy in a car. She decides to kill him instead.

Meanwhile, Madchen is jogging when out of the bushes pops…Anthony Perkins. Because Anthony Perkins needs to be in this movie.

A detective is on to the red dress that killed Madchen’s grandmother and cousin, scoring the film another horror name – R. Lee Ermey (The Rift, The Terror Within II, Up From the Depths, Body Snatchers, The Frighteners, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre remake).

After he questions her about it, Madchen traces the dress back to her cousin’s body at the morgue, where it was stolen by the woman who works there: mortician/prostitute Dee Wallace. Dee also takes a third job as knife-wielding psycho. She shows up at Madchen’s house and chases her around, eventually knocking her out.

im dangerous tonight dee wallace

When Madchen comes to, she’s in the red dress. Her love interest is there and now he starts chasing her around with a knife. And he’s not even wearing the dress! Are you fucking kidding me with this movie???

im dangerous tonight love interest

It doesn’t even matter what happens next. Just know the dress ends up in a wood chipper, the remnants end up buried in a grave, and the last scene has Anthony Perkins digging up the grave to get them out because Anthony Perkins needed to be in this movie. And perhaps because “Mother” needs a new dress…

When the frick is this piece of shit going to come out on DVD or Blu-ray in the U.S. so I can add it to my collection?

IN THE DEEP WOODS (1992)

in the deep woods cover

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!

in the deep woods will patton

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.

in the deep woods perkins

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)

ghost writer cover

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.

ghost writer axe

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….

ghost writer painting

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.

ghost writer skeleton

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?

ghost writer son

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.

ghost writer cemetery

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.

About Daniel

I am the author of the horror anthologies CLOSET MONSTERS: ZOMBIED OUT AND TALES OF GOTHROTICA and HORNY DEVILS, and the horror novels COMBUSTION and NO PLACE FOR LITTLE ONES. I am also the founder of BOYS, BEARS & SCARES, a facebook page for gay male horror fans! Check it out and like it at www.facebook.com/BoysBearsandScares.
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