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SHARON FARRELL SHOCKS 'THE FIFTH FLOOR'

1978 rating: **1/2
When Dianne Hull’s otherwise energetic and sexy college student/disco queen Kelly wakes up in a mental ward (like Dorothy back in Kansas), surrounded by onlooking patients with endearingly unique personality traits, you’ll think THE FIFTH FLOOR was a heartfelt made-for-TV movie until the full frontal nudity occurs within that particular loony bin, which isn’t such a bad place after all... Except for Bo Hopkins as Carl, who seems like a nice enough, trusting orderly but he’s dead-set after Kelly’s body.... He’s already raped another inmate, that being scene-stealer and poster girl Shannon Farrell as Melanie.

With shaggy dirty-blond hair and an unpredictable derange  of emotions, she’s the person most effected by what our main character Kelly should be more effected by: being stuck in a blue-walled purgatory that offers random electroshock therapy like peanuts at a ball game.

Sharon Farrell goes nuts
Kelly, falsely accused of attempting suicide, had been intentionally poisoned. There doesn’t seem to be any way out of the ward except one successful escape that doesn’t last very long since Kelly’s boyfriend (John David Carson) is in cahoots with the friendly head doctor (Mel Ferrer). Meanwhile, strict nurse Julie Adams has real Nurse Ratched potential but turns out sweet and friendly, making Bo the sole antagonist.

Julie Adams & Dianne Hull
With frightfully promising taglines like "Once the door closes here, it never opens" or "The Nightmare is knowing You're Sane," it's much too cozy a cuckoo's nest for our sexy and vulnerable ingénue, who winds up teaching the patients how to disco dance and assert themselves. That is, except for Sharon Farrell’s emotionally-scarred Melanie, stubbornly remaining the only worthy example of (what could have/should have been a much edgier version of a) character-driven 1970's exploitation that, despite the flaws and missed opportunities, is still somewhat intriguing. And other inmates including Patti D'Arbanville (BIG WEDNESDAY), Robert Englund (the original Freddie Kruger from the NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET films), Anthony James (who starred in THE TEACHER also directed by Howard Avedis), and Earl Boen (the doubting Thomas shrink of the TERMINATOR franchise) add little to the overall melodrama but it's a nice bouquet of character-actors nonetheless.
Bo Hopkins, as the nefarious Carl, watches closely as...
The vulnerable Dianne Hull takes a much deserved bath!
Bo Hopkins breaks up an argument by Earl Boen and Anthony James
"You are barely in the movie but you get the poster shot! Damn you Farrell!"
If a hungover Farrah Fawcett went insane this is how she'd look
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