Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Forgotten Gems: "Bad Ronald."

My buddy Pax Romano reviewed a 2008 horror movie called The Ceremony over at Billy Loves Stu. At some point, he likened the movie to an ABC Movie of the Week from the 70's. Pax is a contemporary of Uncle P's, though I suspect he is a few years younger. We both grew up in the greater Philadelphia area and are mutual state switchers. Uncle P was born in NJ and now lives in PA, while Pax was born in PA and now lives in NJ. We both adore horror movies and share very similar political ideals. We read each other's blogs and are friends on facebook.

Anyway... Pax's ABC MOW reference brought back a flood of memories of some the best of them. And at the top of the list was 1974's "Bad Ronald." Starring Scott Jacoby (where is he now?); Auntie Mame's Pippa Scott and Dabney Coleman, Based on a novel by John Holbrook Vance, "Bad Ronald "tells the story of socially awkward teenager Ronald (Jacoby) who accidentally kills one his tormentors. His over-protective mother (Kim Hunter) literally hides him in the walls of the house, where Ronald retreats into a fantasy world of his own creation.

When Ronald's mother passes away, the house is sold to a family who have no idea they have a "guest." Almost completely off his rocker, Ronald incorporates the family into his fantasy until this happens. There are lots of creepy peepholes, mysteriously disappearing food and other strange events that don't disturb the parents (Scott & Coleman) enough to cancel their plans for a weekend away, leaving their three daughters alone with a potentially dangerous lunatic living in the walls.

Eventually, Ronald is captured and presumably taken to an asylum of some kind. The body count is very low (this was TV in 1974, afterall) but the creepiness factor was off the charts. It was all my classmates and I talked about for days... Looking back, it's most certainly because the lead character was our age (more or less) and many of us (Uncle P especially) identified with Ronald. There isn't much scarier in life than puberty, except maybe going through puberty while insane. 

There has been talk of a big screen remake of "Bad Ronald" as late as last year, but until it's announced, I won't hold my breath. I have mixed feelings about a remake. It has been many years since I've seen the original "Bad Ronald." My memory may be tainted and or influenced by any number of things, including my own confusing, 13 year-old hormonal insanity. A great script, amazing cast and the right director would tear this story up and scare the hell out of a new generation of pubescent persons. The wrong director would turn Ronald into a mutant or monster of some kind, slashing his way through beautiful teens who have sex out of wedlock. 

If You've never seen "Bad Ronald," I highly recommend it. While the body count is rather low for a horror movie, the suspense is through the roof. "Bad Ronald" may be a bit dated but good suspense is timeless, as seen in the ultimate "bad child" movie The Bad Seed:

Man, do I love that movie! 

Of course, not to be confused with "Bad Ronald" is Andy Samberg's "Shy Ronnnie."

More, anon.


Stephen said...

I have never run across this film. & what ever did happen to Scott Jacoby?

Pax Romano said...

So glad I could be your inspiration...and I loved this film (I recall seeing it back in the good old days).

As for Scott Jacoby, well I've kept him in a safe spot in my house for years (he's there with Steve Gutenberg) ;)