They got the title wrong for tonight's latest world premiere movie on the USA cable network. Instead of "Love Kills," the film (at 9 on the basic service) could be named "Suspense Movie Cliches, 101" and taught as a visual aid for would-be moviemakers.
They are all here: ominous camera angles, lurid lighting effects, false scares, darkened house stalkings, car chases and at least four potential suspects. Oh, and let's not forget the woman-in-peril, actress Virginia Madsen, who is in a constant state of anxiety.
The movie is, in turn, rather wooden, then annoyingly convoluted and finally downright fascinating in its endless profusion of cinema noir, Hitchcock and TV-movie techniques.
And the plot? Director Brian Grant is quoted in publicity materials as saying the film is "a giant labyrinth" and that "hopefully we've made the mystery interesting enough that all the pieces don't fit together until the very end."
Sorry, Brian. They don't fit together even after the end.
For the record, Madsen plays a photographer on the verge of divorcing her philandering husband (Jim Metzler). He's a psychiatrist and author of a best-selling book of interviews with psychopathic killers.
Turning the tables, Madsen has a torrid one-nighter with a supposed male model she has photographed (Lenny Van Dohlen). Surprisingly, this occurs in one scene where movie cliche does not prevail, for the background music is a soft Spanish guitar rather than the usual wailing saxophone.
But then she is told her husband has hired a hit man to kill her. So for the rest of the movie, Madsen and viewers are left wondering if that is true and, if so, who the would-be killer is. In addition to her husband and new lover, a third potential villain is an old college friend who's carrying a torch for her (Erich Anderson, late of "thirtysomething").
The ending is, indeed, a surprise. But you get the feeling the makers just ran out of hackneyed things to do.
THE CABLE CONNECTION -- Subscribers to Baltimore's city cable system, United Artists Cable, should mark Dec. 2 on their calendars. Comedy Central is finally scheduled to come to town.
The all-comedy network will debut on United's channel 50, in the same cable range as Nick At Nite (channel 47), American Movie Classics (48) and Nostalgia Television (49). The placement, says marketing manager Gary MacGregor, is because the service includes "a great deal of the old nostalgia kind of programs."
Formed earlier this year from the merger of HBO's Comedy Channel and MTV's HA! network, the basic subscription service arrived earlier this fall to cable viewers in Annapolis and on the Eastern Shore.