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  Cameron's Closet Beyond The Door
Year: 1988
Director: Armand Mastroianni
Stars: Cotter Smith, Mel Harris, Scott Curtis, Chuck McCann, Leigh McCloskey, Kim Lankford, Gary Hudson, Tab Hunter, Dort Clark, David Estuardo, Wilson Smith, Kerry Yo Nakagawa, Raymond Patterson
Genre: HorrorBuy from Amazon
Rating:  5 (from 1 vote)
Review: Cameron Lansing (Scott Curtis) is a ten-year-old boy whose father Owen (Tab Hunter) is a scientist with an interest in developing psychic powers in humans, and has been using his son as a test subject. The experiments so far have been more successful than he could have anticipated, with evidence of Cameron's budding ability in simple tasks, but it could be that they have gone too far, as the boy has been encouraged to concentrate on an Aztec statuette which has become the focus for an unwanted side effect: there is an ancient demonic force that has latched onto the kid, and it wants blood...

Not, as you might think, an exposé of a possible reason behind a certain British Prime Minister's enthusiasm for gay marriage, this was a cheapo horror movie which featured an actual closet in a bedroom as the heart of its trouble, where Cameron keeps his stuff as well as his diabiolical entity, though he doesn't mean to. Apparently taking its cue from Cujo, the moppet is anxious about what might be lurking in the walk-in cupboard, though this was a lot more fantasy based than the dangers of tussling with a rabid dog, thanks to the hiring of Carlo Rambaldi to create the demon puppet. Alas, his work here was a long way from the far higher budgeted E.T. The Extraterrestrial.

Actually this was a fairly low budget production all round, with enough cash available to look professional, but obviously not as much as they would have liked to live up to their grand concepts. Essentially taking the oh-so eighties form of a slasher movie as template, the supernatural element also showed the effects of prolonged exposure to the Nightmare on Elm Street franchise in that every character meeting their death would do so in an over the top manner. Take the first demise: Hunter, probably the biggest name here, lasts about ten minutes before venturing into the closet and falling over, whereupon his head is cut off by a carelessly left machete. If that wasn't ridiculous enough for you, stick around, there was more.

Cameron's parents are estranged, possibly because of the alcoholism of his mother Dory (Kim Lankford), but when his dad gets his noggin chopped off the boy has to live with her and her moron actor boyfriend Bob (Gary Hudson) who doesn't like him, and he doesn't like Bob. You can guess how this will play out, and sure enough after Cam annoys his mother's boyfriend by talking to the closet, Bob takes a look and ends up getting his eyes burned out and flung through the bedroom window: doesn't do half measures, does this demon. The trouble with this is that the setpieces would be more likely to wake you up more than energise you, because all the business in between was a real snooze.

Also appearing, and really the main character, was detective Sam Talliaferro (Cotter Smith) who has been suffering bad dreams, sometimes in the middle of the day somehow, and is recommended to visit a shrink, Dr Nora Haley (Smith's wife at the time, thirtysomething star Mel Harris). This establishes the predictable romance as they team up - eventually - to battle the demon and save Cameron for a grand finale where Sam enters the dream world and confronts Freddy - er, the apparition, which looks very rubber and puppet-like, probably because it was a rubbery puppet. With a murder every fifteen minutes or so courtesy of the rampant Aztec, Cameron's Closet just about sustained the interest to see what the special effects team had concocted, but with a TV movie look if not TV movie content, though it did escape into cinemas back in '88, it was undistinguished on the whole aside from the odd bit of lunacy such as what happens to Sam's cop partner and the very strange shower scene, tentacle and all. Music by Harry Manfredini.
Reviewer: Graeme Clark

 

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