Friday, January 8, 2010

Mirror, Mirror 2: Raven Dance (Jimmy Lifton, 1994)

"It's just wood and glass." Oh, movie nuns, why won't you allow there to be any wiggle room when it comes to believing in evil mirrors? Yeah, you heard right, I said "evil mirrors." Which can only mean on thing: The reflective surface that keeps on giving is back and ready to manipulate another attractive, young, socially maladjusted girl in Mirror, Mirror 2: Raven Dance, the unasked for sequel to the mildly campy 1990 flick about an outcast teen and her tumultuous friendship with a sinister piece of furniture. Taking the concept envisioned by Annette Cascone and Gina Cascone (I love it when sisters put aside their hair brush-related differences and team up to create mirror-based horror), writer-director Jimmy Lifton (he also produces and composes the film's music score) grabs the reigns and moves the action to a nunnery on the outskirts of a place where there aren't any nunneries. Unsatisfactory in terms of bloodshed, the second chapter of the glassy saga is missing the underlying menace of the first Mirror Mirror–where I recall many people being killed in a satisfactory manner. On top of that, it just happens to feature one the worst kiddie actors I have ever seen. Seriously, every line he utters was excruciatingly bad. Call me wrongheaded, but I kept wishing that the baneful mirror would straight-up murder his whiny ass every time he appeared on-screen with the seemingly inanimate object.

Of course, I'm not gonna let a couple of little things like awful child acting and a complete lack of mouth-watering gore ruin what is essentially a pretty good psychopathic mirror movie. No way, man, there's got to be something that merits a cockamamie tongue bathing. And I think I may found it floundering amidst the doctor-patient relationship that forms between Marlee (Tracy Wells) and Dr. Lasky (Roddy McDowall).

You see, the doctor is constantly trying to cover his patient's organic sexiness with blankets and sheets. Why he's doing this is a tad convoluted – it's got something to do with Roseyn (Sally Kellerman), her gaudy blazer-wearing stepsister, being left out of a will. But make no mistake, his desire to induce drowsiness is steadfast.

Now, I don't know if I've made this clear or not, but the sense of despair I felt every time Dr. Lasky rendered Marlee unconscious was palpable. I mean, to see her dainty frame repeatedly covered with nondescript nunnery linens was quite disheartening. However, the fact that Marlee would always resist the shady quacks "mild sedatives" was gratifying to say the least.

This defiance was expressed mainly through the majesty of dance, as Marlee seemed to feel most at peace while flailing around in a convulsive marrying of physicality and artistry. Take away her ability to dance, and you're dealing with one unhappy convent resident.

Only problem being that she owes a good-size chunk of her dancefloor prowess to the nondescript mirror languishing menacingly in the corner of her bedroom. A mysterious wild card named Christian (Mark Ruffalo) who shows up every now and then to act suave and give Marlee positive re-enforcement is also responsible for her new-found confidence. Not to sound paranoid, but I think the mirror and Christian might be in cahoots with one another. Either way, there's gonna be some serious consequences when all is said and done.

Everyone, with the exception of Tracy Wells (Mr. Belvedere), seems to talk to themselves in Mirror, Mirror 2: Raven Dance. Sure, I can see why William Sanderson (who was in the first film as a completely different character) talked to himself, as he was an alcoholic pantie sniffer with some intense mental problems. And I can see how Sister Aja (Veronica Cartwright - man, this film's got a pretty solid cast) might chat with herself on occasion, you know, because she's blind and might not realize the person she was talking to has left the room. But as for everyone else, shame on you.

Inheriting the making-out with a bloodstained mirror mantle from the alluring Rainbow Harvest, the resplendent Tracy Wells makes the transition between gamboling to being bedridden with an effortless rarely seen in straight-to-video horror films about malevolent mirrors. Whether searching for her cat (Pie-Whack-It), lying motionless, or pirouetting with spunk, Tracy takes not wearing pants to whole 'nother level of pantlessness.

To be honest, I tried my best not to notice that Miss Wells' lower extremities were never covered. Yet, despite the unscrupulous doctor's blanket-obsessed intentions, the film gave me no choice but to obsess over her stems. I'm not complaining or anything like that, I was just hoping to judge Tracy's performance from a non-leg-centric point-of-view. Which, as far as I could tell, was competent; even by Raven Dance standards.



  1. Haven't even heard of the movie, but I just love your screen grabs. Why, just look at that snap of Sally Kellerman! That might just be my favorite thing ever.

  2. I was quite taken with the wide array of jackets Sally K. wears in this movie.

  3. This sounds like quite the stinker, though I imagine it is the second best homicidal mirror movie ever made ;-)

  4. Despite your disclaimers, Yum-Yum, between "cockamamie tonguebathing" and "pirouetting with spunk," I have a completely irrational but overwhelming desire to see this movie right now. It's all due to the majesty or your writing!

    So with all the dancing and nunnery in this, could you detect any influence from SUSPIRIA? It doesn't really matter, but thought I'd throw it out there.

    I've always had a sort of phobia of mirrors--or rather of seeing something in the mirror that isn't there when you turn around. For that reason stuff like 1980's THE BOOGEYMAN and the original MIRROR, MIRROR probably work better for me than for normal people. I'll keep my eye out for this one.

  5. Darius Whiteplume: It's definitely better than the other fifteen or so homicidal mirror movies that came out in 1994.

    The Vicar of VHS: The very thought of anyone, let own a vicar, having a rational desire to see this movie gives me a severe case of the wrong kind of willies.

    I suck at detecting influences, but I can totally see Suspiria inspiring the makers of MM2: RD.