Monday, October 11, 2010

Bad Ronald

(1974) ***

It’s Ronald Wilby’s birthday but the only one in attendance is his frail, yet smothering mother. We soon learn that she has been divorced from Ronald’s father for many years and agreed to eschew alimony and child support if he stayed out of their lives. Ronald’s mother is his sole contact with the outside world and as a result Ronald has no ability to navigate the waters of human relationships. This is made abundantly clear when he awkwardly asks a girl out for a date. She not only rejects him but also joins her friends in ridiculing him. Pissed off Ronald leaves this situation only to run into a little girl on the street who also mocks him. In a fit of rage he shoves her and she falls, landing on a rock and proceeds to die. Not knowing how to handle this unexpected event he panics and buries her.

Don't mess with Bad Ronald

Ronald reveals this incident to his mother who realizes that her naïve son will go away for life if he’s caught. The two concoct a strange plan, they will wall off a spare bathroom under the stairs and Ronald will live there until the police lose interest and move onto other cases. They install a small trapdoor below the pantry so Ronald is able to gain access to food. The plan works perfectly until Ronald’s mother goes to the hospital for a simple procedure and proceeds to die.

Nosey old ladies should mind their own business

The house is soon sold to an unsuspecting couple that has 3 teenage daughters. Ronald begins to slip into a fantasy world much like Tom Hanks in Mazes and Monsters (1982) and soon drills holes throughout the house to keep an eye on things. One of the teenage girls expresses her concern that she hears noises at night but her comments are summarily dismissed (it’s an old house and old homes make noise). Things start to go awry as Ronald becomes increasingly unhinged.

This is another dark gem from the made-for-TV era. I don’t know how these films would play to someone who didn’t grow up during this time, but with limited viewing choices in the days before cable, satellite, etc, these kinds of films were an absolute treat. They not only provided something unique, they also offered a darker glimpse of humanity that you normally wouldn’t find in the era of The Love Boat. Fun.


Catfreeek said...

There's that Love Boat again. I never heard of this film but it certainly sounds intriguing. "Ronald’s mother goes to the hospital for a simple procedure and proceeds to die." ~That's some procedure!

Landshark said...

I totally saw this back in the day. Fun creepy stuff.

Whirlygirl said...

I posted a comment like five hours ago. it was there and then it vanished. What the hell!

Anyway, I think this movie sounds great. Where did you find this one?

Mr. AC said...

Sounds wicked creepy. I agree, the Love Boat didn't have much of a creep factor, but there were some pretty dark and scary episodes of Fantasy Island back then.

50PageMcGee said...

i always loved the big loopy mural Ronald's painting in his grotto.

my sisters made a big deal about this movie when we were kids, having caught it while channel surfing when they were about 10 and 11. they made it sound like Ronald was super scary, but he's kind of just a repeat victim of circumstance.

DCD said...

I can totally remember being scared during some Fantasy Island episopes. Love Boat? Not so much.
ExceLlent review!

Octopunk said...

What about that Love Boat in which Julie your cruise director made out with Gopher? Terrifying.

I cannot overstate how much I love the title Bad Ronald. Great find, JPX, I've never heard of this. I adore the series of plot contrivances that result in a family unknowingly harboring an introverted, slightly dangerous teenager.