Friday, November 25, 2011

Film #84: Mirror Mirror (1990)

“Mirror, mirror on the wall, who’s the fairest of them all?”
Why the Chicago World’s Fair of 1893! That was by far the fairest.
“No, no, mirror. Who is the fairest of them all?”
Oh, got you. Brian Williams. His NBC Nightly News is unbiased journalism at its most fair.
“One more wisecrack and you’ll crack, mirror! Now, for the last time, who is the fairest of them all?"
It’s got to be Chicago city cabs. Their fares are sky-high!
“That’s it!”

Who’s the fairest of them all in this week’s film, Mirror Mirror? Well, definitely not lead character Megan Gordon… at least until the mousey Goth hag serendipitously finds an ancient and mysterious mirror in her new bedroom.

There is nothing better than the new girl at school, unless that new girl is wearing black lipstick, sports a Goth freak attitude, and shuffles around school shy as a turtlehead. But that’s what Megan’s become after she and her newly widowed mother (scream-queen Karen Black) decide to start life anew and move into an old Victoria home in a new town.

Seems the earlier residents left in a hurry, as many items, including the tree branch decorated mirror, remained behind. It’s the same creepy mirror we see in an opening flashback that drives the former occupant to stab her sister to death. This doesn’t look good. Not good at all.

Megan takes the mirror room as her own, and perilously uses it to dress for success at her new high school. Maybe it is out of pity, but attractive popular girl Nikki Chandler takes a shine to Megan and pulls her under her pretty, argyle wing. Not that the act of charity makes the other popular kids act friendly toward Megan. She is a freak after all. And the tormenting continues.

Over time Megan begins to form a strange psychic bond with her bedroom mirror. The stronger the connection, and the deeper she looks into its glass, the more powerful Megan feels. Soon her high school tormentors begin to meet bloody and painful “accidents,” like when the head beautiful bitch class president gets scalded to death in the gym shower.
Friend Nikki starts to wonder “Is Megan somehow causing these ‘accidents.’” Megan starts to wonder just how powerful is her mirror? With each passing day Megan not only becomes more confident, but also sexier… and more demented.

Will the evil mirror completely consume Megan and drag her to the blackworld?
Can Nikki stop Megan before it is too late?
If you break a mirror, is it really seven years bad luck?
Find out in the 1990 self-help hit, “Mirror, Mirror.”

RDHP Ratings and Review

C-Rating: 2.2
Chris Dimick spouts:
“Let’s reflect on mirrors for a moment.
Why are they such an oft-used pivot point in horror movies? (See below sidebar discussing the top mirror scenes in horror history.)
Seems these light-bending practical devices necessary for shaving and picking spinach from teeth are also horrific portals of evil… at least in the movie world.

Sure, you can get a cheap scare by having something horrifying appear in the mirror. But beyond that, what makes mirrors so scary?

When you look in the mirror, it is usually a quiet moment in the busy world. While we all have perceptions of our appearance, we get the real deal when we look in a mirror.
It can almost be a spiritual, relaxing endeavor… looking into your own eyes, searching through one’s being. Perhaps that is why the experience is such a prime target for horror.

When you look in the mirror, you truly let your guard down, both physically (your back is turned) and mentally (you are sizing yourself up). The mirror doesn’t lie; it shows you how you are seen to the world. It can show the pain in your eyes. The joy in your smile. Or the years in your wrinkles.
Because of this, mirrors can hold actual horror for those who don’t like what they see in the reflection.

Throughout time mirrors have been considered magical portals or generally holding special powers. This week’s film takes that history literally, telling the story of a bedroom mirror that serves as an evil portal connecting a demon to its victim; shy mirror loathing Megan.
But by the end of the film, as Megan’s newfound demon power grew, the mirror also gave Megan the power to transform from shy and weak into a strong, confident sexy beast. But was it the mirror, or the way Megan saw herself in the mirror?

This goes back to the fact that mirrors don’t just have the power to reflect light, they reflect our impressions of ourselves. If we are confident and comfortable in our skin – regardless of conventional “looks”— we will see a beautiful confident person when we look in the mirror.
If we are uncomfortable with our appearance have low self-esteem, we will see an ugly person in that same mirror. Mirrors don’t just reflect light, they reflect psyche.
Perhaps this is another reason for their power, and inclusion in horror films.

But regardless of how confident Mirror Mirror was, it still appeared ugly. I dug the premise, and the symbolism behind it. And there were a few scenes that were down-right arty… like when flowy shots of gym class swimming were juxtaposed with a mean girl getting her flesh steamed worse than Chinese Dim Sum.

The film’s execution never really focused. The sub-plot of the 1930s mirror driven murder by the former home occupants was out of place and unnecessary.
The nonsensical way that the mirror took over Megan and did her subconscious bidding as a way to lure her closer to its realm just wasn’t explained well enough. Consider this another Phantasm (it has just as many sequels).
Lots of promise, mystery and confusion… mixed in with 1990s cheesy goodness. But don’t give in to the allure of “figuring it all out with the sequels.” We’ve made that choice before… and will never be the same. Just avoid this broken film and the seven years bad luck that comes with it.

I hope when you look in the mirror you like what you see. Given the fact that you are reading the RDHP, I can easily bet that what that mirror reflects is an intelligent, beautiful individual. Because you’re good enough, you’re smart enough, and dog-gone it, people like you.”

N-Rating: 1.2
Nick Rich reflects:
“What does one write about that which has left so little and impact on one? First off, one stops saying 'one'.


Secondly, one - bah! I've already messed up my own review! Fortunately for me, messing up applies to week's film Mirror Mirror. Phew!

This hat + hair combo = FAIL
What did the filmmakers screw up about this film you ask? Let's just go down the list:

  • Bad story? Check.
  • Bad acting? Check.
  • Bad effects? Check.
  • Shameless, obvious product placement? Check!
  • Zero scares? Check!!
About the only thing this film got right was the horribly awesome 90s clothing:

We are so RAD!
Honestly there's not much to say about this film, so I won't expound. It wasn't good, so don't watch it... there are so many other valid things you could do with your time instead, like read a Mary Shelley's Frankenstein!

The Skinny: Check this flick out if you've exhausted all of your 90s nostalgia options and are still hungry for more... or if you've ever wanted to validate your mirror-licking habit.”

Things We Learned from Mirror, Mirror:
-Dog barks reverse running blood.
-Stars and Stripes and Tits make you a shoe-in for Class President.
-High mom pants were once sex pants on 1990s teens.
-Karen Black has had way too much plastic surgery.
-‘Nam was still an excuse for the crazies in 1990.
-The Ford Probe is the poor man’s sports car.
-Rainbow Harvest is a girl’s name, not a 1960s concert.
-Science and the Occult are totally bedfellows.
-Cranberry juice cures the pisses.
-A pregnant woman doesn’t want to wear a tent.
-Punk is dead:

RDHP Presents:
Scary Mirrors
Mirrors have appeared in numerous horror movies as an instrument of terror. Below, the RDHP charts out the top horror mirror scenes of all time, and a few others just for fun. Think about this next time you are brushing your teeth alone in the bathroom.

Evil Dead 2
Ever talk to yourself in the mirror. Has your reflection ever answered back? Bruce Campbell's has... and then some.

Bela Lugosi’s Dracula thinks he has everyone fooled into thinking he is just an eccentric Count from Dark Europe… until wily Professor Van Helsing tricks old Drac into looking into a mirror. Vampires cast no reflection, after all. Got ‘em!

We’ve heard of facelifts, but this is ridiculous. This scene where a character literally picks their face off while looking in the mirror (don’t worry, it was just spooks freaking out squares) is still one of the most shocking and visceral images in horror. And this is rated PG?! Bring back the 80s please.

The Shining
There are two mirror scenes of note in this Stanley Kubrick masterpiece. The first comes when Shelley Duvall finally realizes why her son keeps spouting “RED RUM”.
The other; old Jack Nicholson gets a Viagra-busting surprise when he views the reflection of the mysterious bathing woman he finds himself tongue-wrestling in Room 237. Geesh, Jack. We’ve heard of GLIFs, but set an age limit!
[Click here to see the bathroom scene, but beware... Not Safe For Work (includes nudity!!!)]

Bloody Mary
Admit it; you tried this at a junior high slumber party. The urban legend states if you say the words “Bloody Mary” three times into a dark mirror, ghost Bloody Mary will appear and murder you.
This story has been used in several movies and TV shows, including the Bloody Mary horror series, Candyman, and in the new TV series American Horror Story -- in the form of mirror unleashed maniac Pigman. (If you haven’t seen AHS… do it, now. It’s the best horror show on air.)
[click here for a funny take on the legend]

The Ring
A section of The Ring’s viral video shows Samara’s mother eerily brushing her hair in an antique mirror. Only it seems she is doing it from just one side of the mirror… the inside. Spoooook!

Mirrors (2008)
They made a whole horror movie about mirrors even! And it stars Kiefer Sutherland! Yeah, we didn’t see it either.

Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs
The Evil Queen uses this handy mirror to see her beauty enemies… and then have them destroyed. Yes, this is a horror movie… and is actually next week’s RDHP viewing! If that isn't scary enough, try this inspired Diana Ross video...that music is pure horror.

The Man in the Mirror
Because what is more horrifying than Michael Jackson. He’s a man that changes colors and melts! Double Spook! That, and this video has truly horrifying images beyond Michael's pervert face.

Try this compilation of the horror movie mirror cliche!

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