Monday, October 16, 2017

Who's the Winonyaest of Them All?

Amazon Prime may have been slow to the streaming game, but BOY are they currently doing wonders for horror fans with questionable taste!

Quick Plot: Megan is an LA goth kid whose Beetlejuice-Era-Winonya-Ryder-Meets-Madonna-With-Hints-of-Boy-George style isn't exactly embraced in her new suburban high school. Only Nikki, a friendly overachiever with a horny boyfriend and a Tracy Flick-ish ambition to be school president, makes an effort to befriend the city girl. They quickly bond over a shared nemesis-ship with the school's reigning mean girls, although Megan becomes distracted quickly by something far more sinister at home.

With daffy widowed mom Karen Black too busy trying to find a husband, Megan bonds with the antique full-length mirror that had been left behind in her new room. The relationship intensifies when the lonely goth girl discovers the mirror can help her wreak vengeance on her enemies in especially creative ways.

Directed by Marina Sargenti (who like most female filmmakers, went on to primarily work in television), Mirror Mirror seems to be collecting all of the leftover, soon-to-be-expired goofiness of '80s horror before the world was willing to admit that 1990 was a new decade. As slashers and supernatural scares slowly faded from the big screen before being uprooted by post-Scream slickness, movies with the kind of goofy gore like Mirror Mirror would become an endangered species whose only refuge was Blockbuster shelves.

Mirror/Mirror is far from being an original tale. Rainbow Harvest's Megan could not look more like the costume department camped outside of Tim Burton's dumpster in the hopes of finding some scraps of Lydia Deetz that they could spin into their lead's ensemble, and the popular queen bees feel ripped off any high school assembly line. At the same time, this is a movie that includes a scene where ditzy Karen Black tries to charm the pet cemetery dead animal retriever (played by William Sanderson, no less) with a romantic home dinner while fending off an fly infestation caused by an evil mirror. 

And hey, that's not even the best scene IN this film! Among other moments of joy, we get a jock being eaten by said evil mirror, the film's popular villain being burned in an evil mirror-induced shower, and Ned Ryerson being doodled to near death (see note below; it makes perfect sense, trust me). Mirror Mirror is never scary, but it's fun in a way that somehow manages to balance today's camp with an earnestness of its time.

High Points
Something I appreciated about Mirror/Mirror is how Meghan, despite being our main character, is kind of a jerk. Yes, we feel bad for her and hate the Heathers who immediately mark her as a social target, but while she may be lonely and sympathetic, she has a somewhat complicated mean streak of her own, cruelly ignoring her mother's feelings when her dogs turn up dead and savoring her newfound murderous power without much regret. Nikki is the moral heart of the film (and an incredibly pleasant one at that), but I simply found it interesting to center a fairly formulaic horror film on a more-complicated-than-usual character. 

Low Points
I suppose I could have taken a clearer commitment to tone, since the film never fully decides whether it's tongue is in its cheek or not

Lessons Learned
If your friends are dropping dead around you, be sure to make yourself the best sandwich in the world, just in case it ends up being your last meal

Psychiatrists are VERY Beverly Hills

Putting your hand down a garbage disposal is a choice you make only if you have no affection whatsoever for the hand that will inevitably be destroyed by said garbage disposal

In world before online dating, one could always count on pet cemeteries as a great way to meet a potential partner

Look! It's - 
Stephen Tobolowsky, in the very typical Stephen Tobolwsky role of a square teacher who gets his comeuppance via angry voodoo teenage girl doodling

And Look CLOSE! It's- 
Kristin Dattilo, a name that excites that very small but enthusiastic audience segment who knows Days of Our Lives' Lucas Robert-Horton's real-life sister/the chick who played the single teenage mom Brandon Walsh dated briefly in Season 1 of Beverly Hills 90210 when they see her!

Mirror Mirror isn't a particularly good movie, but it's incredibly fun and EXTREMELY of its time in the best possible way. Like most films streaming on Amazon Prime, it looks like someone dropped the print in water and dried it out on a clothesline, but I think most horror fans will still find themselves enjoying its charms. 

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