I think the most entertaining way to describe Malicious is to do so in
the form of a guessing game. I'm going to write out the entire storyline,
and you see if you can name another film (an earlier, more famous one) with
the exact same plot.
A laid-back, small-town hero up in the Pacific Northwest hopes to make it
in the big time in San Francisco. He's lonely one night and ends up being
cornered into a one-night stand with a local woman who is a fan of his. She
turns out to be more than a fan. She is obsessed with him, and we come to
realize that she is also stark raving mad. After their time together, she
constructs an imaginary relationship with him and carries on as if the
relationship were real. She often drops in unexpectedly, acting as if she
The situation worsens when the man's regular girlfriend returns to the
area, and the stalker becomes livid with jealousy. The madwoman does
everything she can to poison the couple's relationship, and even tries to
kill him, but he narrowly escapes. The man then comes to realize that the
stalker may try to kill his girlfriend. The situation comes to a head when
the man realizes that his girlfriend's new roommate is ... the stalker,
using a different name!
He rushes through San Francisco to his girlfriend's apartment, and finds
that an investigating policeman has been already been murdered there. The
stalker then attacks our hero with a knife. The climax of the film occurs
when our hero is lucky enough to land a hard blow to the knife-wielding
psychopath, causing her to fall from an upper story to her death below.
Have you locked in your guess?
The answer is that Malicious is the grade-B rip-off of ... (suspenseful
music) ... Play Misty For Me.
There are some differences, of course. Just enough to avoid any lawsuits.
For example, the hero in Play Misty for Me is a small-time Carmel DJ hoping
to break through to a major station in the San Francisco area, while the hero
in Malicious is a small-college baseball player in Vancouver trying to land
a spot with the San Francisco Giants. Apart from that, the most significant
variations revolve around some flashbacks and background material which
explain why the stalker is so crazy.
Malicious has some problems, besides being derivative. One important
scene transition seems to need a connecting scene, and the
characterizations offer little more than the genre's usual by-the-numbers
cardboard cut-outs to drive the plot along. Patrick McGaw lacks any spark,
brings nothing memorable to the lead role, and takes the concept of
laid-back to the extreme in a low-octane performance. His performances in
the batters' box also ring false. McGaw is small, doesn't take a very
powerful cut, and is completely unconvincing as a power hitter with major
league potential. The only major leaguer he could play convincingly would be
Eddie Gaedel. McGaw isn't the only problem with the baseball scenes, which
are totally boring in general, and mostly just show the batter, catcher, and
umpire from a pitcher-cam.
The film wasn't exactly a springboard to success. Patrick McGaw
disappeared from the TV/film world about six years ago. The film's director,
Ian Courson, never directed again. The film's writer had no further credits
at IMDb. Finally, Molly Ringwald never could achieve a level of adult
stardom to match her popularity as a teen icon in the mid eighties.
The world's DVD producers were not exactly competing to issue this 1995
film, which finally made it to a Region 1 disk in August of 2007, and they
probably had good reasons to doubt its commercial potential, but despite its
flaws Malicious is not a totally awful movie. It has some moments of
suspense, and Molly Ringwald does a pretty good job in the Jessica Walter
role as the stalker. Ringwald also showed off her curves in a topless scene,
and surprised just about everyone at the time with her large, firm breasts.
If there were a good version of this film on the DVD, Malicious would be
a C- on our scale rather than a lower grade because genre lovers might enjoy
it if they have not seen too many similar movies, and nudity lovers will
almost surely enjoy the one and only good look at Molly Ringwald's
Unfortunately, the newly-issued DVD seems like a leftover from the 1990s.
There are no features at all, and there's no widescreen version. Worse
still, the full frame rendering is a sometimes clumsy pan-n-scan effort
which occasionally seems to be missing such vital details as the sides of
heads. Even if you've been waiting for this film, you'll be disappointed if
you add it to your collection. If curiosity gets the best of you, either
rent it or wait for it to hit the bargain bin.
Final grade for this version: D+ - not
Rise is a genre hybrid created by crossing a vampire movie with a Charles
Bronson revenge film. Lucy Liu plays a reporter on the trail of a mysterious
cult which ends being a vampire group. They promptly kill her and drink all
of her blood, a double coup which not only puts a stop to her investigation,
but also simultaneously meets 100% of their daily vitamin requirements.
Turns out that death just pisses her off! It seems that she has the
necessary will or genetic structure or susceptibility to vampirism, or
whatever bullshit explanation the script comes up with, and she gets turned
into one of the undead, with an assist from a female vampire who helps to
"turn" Lucy for her own purposes when the chief vampire is not paying
Lucy wakes up in the morgue, kicks her way free, and resumes her life.
After feeling the craving for blood and subsequently killing a few drifters,
however, she starts to get the feeling that the whole vampire lifestyle is
really not for her, so she sets out to destroy the entire tribe of vampires
who cursed her to this life which is not a life. After being trained by a rogue vampire,
she sets out on a mission to kill the evil nightcrawlers with a
magical vampire-killing crossbow. (Surprisingly there is no waiting period
to buy one. Bless the NRA. Or maybe the NCA.)
The description does sound lame, but I found myself liking it. You have
to measure a film like this by the quantity and appeal of its guilty
pleasures, and Rise stacks up nicely. It's fun to watch, even if (like me)
you don't like the whole throat-slitting, flesh-eating vampire ambience.
Several reasons I found it appealing.
1) A nice bit of "mismatched buddy" action between Lucy Liu and Michael
Chiklis, as a tough cop who arrests her because she did, after all,
kill a whole bunch of vampires, and he doesn't know they were vampires. He
thinks he's caught a serial killer. Of course, she doesn't stay caught, but
once Liu and Chiklis learn and believe each other's stories, they team up to
take on the chief vampire.
2) A lot of fun cameos by a great variety of people ranging from Robert
Forster to Marilyn Manson to ... Nick Lachey.
3) The chief vampire is a fairly entertaining evil mastermind, ala a Bond
4) A surprisingly solid performance from Lucy Liu, who moved easily
through the action scenes and remained natural and convincing throughout the
4) Some great topless nudity from Cameron Richardson, and some copious
(if too coy) toplessness from Lucy Liu in four different scenes!
5) Entertaining over-the-top comic book violence, in the manner of a
Frank Miller work.
6) A sense of humor.
Here's my most telling remark: I enjoyed the 95 minute R-rated version so much
that I went immediately online and ordered the 122 minute unrated version,
which streets in October. And I don't even like vampire movies!
Very high C, possibly even a C+. Not a genre classic, but not far
off. 6.5 at IMDb.