Written by / 12/23/2017 / No comments / , , , , , , , , , , , ,

MARK HARMON AS TED BUNDY IN 'THE DELIBERATE STRANGER'

Starr Andreeff bikes to doom in The Deliberate Stranger YEAR: 1986
INTRO ON JAMES DOBSON: Skip to the third paragraph to avoid this pre-review anti-preaching preaching, but, having grown up in a Christian household, God was never personally shunned even through a string of rebellious years, but a man considered highly respected in the religion can take a flying leap into the flaming pit he makes money warning others about...

Dr. James Dobson, whose particular niche-fame is from a show he calls "Focus On The Family," had met with serial killer Ted Bundy right before his Florida execution. The famous pastor told the public that, if executed, Bundy would walk with him in heaven, and he didn't think Ted should have to "ride the lightning" of the Electric Chair at all: So since Dobson's daughters were (and are) all intact, living peacefully with steady heartbeats, it never occurred to him that this sociopath psychopath was no kindhearted, misled Thief on the Cross: You were another conned fool, Dobson...

An almost Bundy victim played by Elaine Wilkes
THE DELIBERATE STRANGER: It's surprising that, just a few years before serial killer Ted Bundy's green mile, a made-for-television mini-miniseries starring Mark Harmon would actually be a worthy biopic...

While Harmon's not a great actor otherwise, his good looks (despite being way more attractive than the famously attractive yet facially overrated, lipless, demon-eyed monster) fits the infamous serial killer who'd trick lithe and lovely, long haired, leggy young women from the decade of his bloody reign, the 1970's...

And despite the obvious limitations of mid-80's television movies-of-the-week, before the cable-era or streaming era and, leaving out the actual physical killings, it does effectively show Bundy's cunning yet primarily basic process (which was borrowed in THE SILENCE OF THE LAMBS): usually feigning a broken arm, he sympathetically lures women to his handy Volkswagen bug, and they're never seen again...

Elaine Wilkes; there's no Harmon asking
Where each murder winds up — jumping back and forth to the body count of beautiful women (including Terry Farrell) — is the worst aspect of THE DELIBERATE STRANGER, titled because Bundy would only kill women he didn't know — like, for instance, safe are Glynnis O'Connor as his girlfriend and Deborah Goodrich as his former workmate turned "Bundy Bunny," which she referred to herself even after his first two captures and escapes...

Harmon w/ Glynnis O'Connor
Although the cops (and too-trusting reporter George Grizzard) are played by terrific actors... M. Emmett Walsh, John Ashton and lead by Frederic Forrest, who all but stole APOCALYPSE NOW... their post-kill color commentary becomes repetitive while the scenes drag too long in the process of Bundy's fascinating and entertainingly eclectic state-by-state reign of stalking (and ironically polite) terror, slowing the pace considerably...

Especially dealing a grieving mother, painfully overacting. Meanwhile, character-actor (and our friend) Harry Northup, once a Martin Scorsese regular, and improvisational actress Ann Ryseron are a lot more effective to show the parental grief of pain and loss — especially since they're shown just enough to quickly return to Harmon, who never has a dull moment in Ted Bundy's shoes.

Black Cat Crossing Terry Farrell's path TV-MOVIE-GRADE: A—
Director Marvin J. Chomsky provides creative camera angles reminiscent of a theatrical film except for conversational scenes that look comfortably "covered" like most things born of television...

The biggest flaw is the film goes against its own title and theory, that Bundy remained a stranger to the girls when in some scenes he has entire conversations. For example, with Terry Farrell he sits with her and a friend (Sheri Stoner) and their guy-friend to boot. And right after we learned he'd never allow his face to be seen for that long to anyone close to the victims, and, those scenes are obviously for Mark Harmon, not the film's reality: What also gets in his and our way is a noisy, annoying techno soundtrack that, especially on the horribly mixed DVD audio, plays as loud — in contrast to the suspenseful action — as a commercial barging in on a local channel...

The Bundy Shuffle as he takes out a college dorm
It's Mark Harmon, acting a cross between his own personable fun guy from SUMMER SCHOOL combined with enough eagerly sinister prowess to cross the line smoothly into a chronic darkness, that sustains with more and more venom as the story effectively fills a nearly four-hour run-time that, despite the bad sound, is neatly pieced-together in ten-minute intervals on the two clear-quality Warner Archive DVDs...

And, perhaps it's in something similar to bad taste to showcase the lovely victims as "Bundy's Bunnies" in the screen captures below, but that's what Deborah Goodrich's character deems him, if a popular Christian pastor can forgive the real man's actions, why not exploit the bevy of "fictional" (names changed) foxes from THE DELIBERATE STRANGER, a worthwhile experience they've yet to decently capture/translate onto the big screen.
A Near Victim, Elaine Wilkes , she doesn't trust Bundy but she digs him, and resembles Deborah Goodrich
Cops Frederic Forrest, John Ashton and M. Emmett Walsh
Walsh looks upon the first string of victims that we didn't see
When the above girl balks, Bundy takes this girl out behind a restroom building
Not only is Jeannetta Arnette a talented actress, her character's based on Ann Rule, who wrote The Stranger Beside Me about Ted
Bundy's most devoted fan played by a former Cult Film Freak interviewee Deborah Goodrich
A pretty hitchhiker we only catch this very quick glimpse of
Terry Farrell and Sherri Stoner in the most unrealistic scene where Ted's NOT being The Deliberate Stranger at all
The Little Mermaid model Sherri Stoner and Terry Farrell notice a friendly yet stalking Ted Bundy
Cult Film Freak friend and fav Harry Northup with Ann Ryerson from CADDYSHACK as Farrell's folks
Elle Longstreth plays the first girl who successfully fights Bundy and later serves as an important witness
Merry Christmas to Bundy: benign girlfriend Glynnis O'Connor and daughter with Mark Harmon
Last victim before Ted's first of two capture/escapes is Joann played by Molly Fontaine in The Deliberate Stranger
Out of order just a bit... This girl is lucky what she does, not sees: Her college buddies all slain by Bundy
Some of which Bundy sees getting down at a Disco
One of two roomfuls of slain college girls and the second to last Bundy bunny
His last victim who he raped, killed, then raped was 12-year-old... Focus On That Family Dr. Dobson
Prayers for the real Kimbery Leach, who can, God willing, kick Bundy and his bitch Dobson in their collective nuts
The body count horror movie implied kill that begins The Deliberate Stranger
Leilani Sarelle as Ted Bundy's groupie in The Deliberate Stranger
Emily Longstreth is the one that got away from Mark Harmon's The Deliberate Stranger

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