Monday, April 25, 2022

Census Bloodbath: Each And Every Day Of The Year

Year: 1984
Director: William A. Graham
Cast: Tom Skerritt, Sharon Stone, Robert Culp
Run Time: 1 hour 35 minutes 

Plot: Calendar Girl Murders follows a faux-Playboy magazine called Paradise that is run by Richard Trainor (Robert Culp). When their calendar girls for January and February are murdered, homicide cop Lt. Dan Stoner (Tom Skerritt) must try to find out who is targeting the girls while also discovering the mysterious secret behind former Angel of the Year Cassie Bascomb's (Sharon Stone, who was still in the slasher trenches after Deadly Blessing) departure from the company. She also keeps crossing his path and trying rather desperately to fuck him despite the fact that he's married, which is really the plot of the movie if we're being honest.

Analysis: The TV movie format should be an absolute killer for the slasher genre, which thrives on blood, guts, and nudity, all things that were not allowed to be broadcast on network TV in the 1980s. However, I have found that those restrictions tend to empower the slasher movie to aim for better plots and more layered characters (especially for women), so TV films including Fantasies, Dark Night of the Scarecrow, Deadly Lessons, and last week's Till Death Do Us Part have been delightful breaths of fresh air. If anything, Calendar Girl Murders being boring is the exception that proves the rule.

Even so, it's only boring because it favors a format other than the "Lifetime movie" vibe that a project like this demands. Instead it's a bland police procedural without much new to bring to the table. At least that element requires many characters who only show up in 1 or 2 scenes, allowing the cast to be even more stacked than the typical entry, including appearances from Robert Morse, Alan Thicke, Robert Beltran, and Barbara Parkins. 

The procedural is quite bad, not really committing to any proper red herrings and losing the organizing principle of women being killed in calendar order by the halfway point. It is then intermittently intercut with scenes that prove that Sharon Stone needed some practice before she could claim her seductive hold over cinema in the 1990s. I don't blame Stone for being unappealing here, she's struggling with an impassive love interest in a schlubbed-up Skerritt, a trite script, and the overall confusedly horny atmosphere that makes it feel like the film was produced by 12-year-old who haven't actually had sex.

Obviously, a TV movie about nude models isn't going to show actual naked people. But it also didn't have to show us the photo shoots, where the women are donning outfits they could get away with wearing into church. It undercuts the sense of lusty fantasy the film is trying to indulge in, and that lack of heat is felt in no place more than the slow motion firefighter photo shoot that is the lead-out to a scene where Dan learns that his wife's life is in danger, instantly deflating whatever modicum of tension the scene had established.

Its kills are similarly lackluster, as must be expected from this vein of the slasher. Still, I might not be expecting blood, but I was definitely expecting there to be an actual kill in the second half of the movie rather than a woman failing to be drowned and a man who has his life support machine shut off, which I think can claim the record for history's least interesting slasher movie murder.

The film isn't aggressively bad by any stretch of the imagination, it's just content to be a bland bit of programming you can ignore while falling asleep face down in your TV dinner. It briefly livens up with a car chase that is by far the single best sequence of the film, but then it has the gall to leave us on one of the worst final scenes I have ever witnessed, half of which takes place with the characters blocked behind a closed door before it cuts to credits.

Killer: Cassie Bascomb (Sharon Stone)
Final Girl: Nancy Stoner (Barbara Bosson), but really only because she's the last woman we see
Best Kill: There's not much to choose from, but Miss February is stabbed while getting a snack and falls into the fridge which is kinda neat.
Sign of the Times: The dreadful synth cover of Neil Sedaka's "Calendar Girl" this movie opens with.
Scariest Moment: Cassie is accosted by a strange man in a parking garage.
Weirdest Moment: A random dude who hasn't shown up before and won't be seen afterward does a midair splits at an otherwise relatively sedate party.
Champion Dialogue: "What am I supposed to wear to an orgy?"
Body Count: 3
  1. Pamela (Miss January) is pushed off a tenth story balcony.
  2. Kara (Miss February) is stabbed in the gut.
  3. Albert has his life support switched off.
TL;DR: Calendar Girl Murders is a passable TV movie effort but has a lot of wasted potential.
Rating: 5/10
Word Count: 826

No comments:

Post a Comment