Friday, October 23, 2009

Mirror Mirror (Marina Sargenti, 1990)

A mirror normally provides nonjudgmental feedback to those who look upon its surface. Whether it be a causal glance or a more purposeful glare, the mirror will not lie to you. No matter the level of your self-esteem, the information retained will be coming from a totally unbiased place. On the other hand, if, say, the mirrored surface, the one that just happens to be creepily sitting in the corner of your newly acquired bedroom, is the gateway to a demonic netherworld, the reflections it furnishes may not be the most trustworthy. I'd recommend keeping it turned against the wall in the back of a barely opened closet. I mean, other than throwing it in the ocean or shooting it into space, this is probably the best, and the least expensive solution to curbing its wicked behaviour. Unfortunately, the complete opposite occurs in Mirror Mirror, Marina Sargenti's creepy teen horror extravaganza that owes a large debt to film's like, Carrie, Heathers, Beetlejuice and Welcome Home, Roxy Carmichael. The mirror is promptly awoken from its fifty year slumber, by someone who has little or no experience fighting epic battles with possessed furniture, and is ready to once again inflict harm on those who dare to look in its general direction. What is essentially a Goth survival guided masquerading a supernatural thriller, the film follows the shy misadventures of one Megan Gordon (Rainbow Harvest), who has just moved into a new house with her recently widowed mother (the always awesome, always wonderfully deranged Karen Black) and her two dogs. As expected, the not-so perky student repeatedly finds herself at odds with her overly chipper classmates. (The looks of derision she gets will ring true for anyone who has selected sullen stripling as their subculture of choice.)

Sporting a healthy penchant for dark clothing, the black-eyed newcomer defies the odds and befriends a non-Goth named Nikki (Kristin Dattillo), much to the chagrin of her athletic, sandwich-loving boyfriend. (I wish I had lived in a 1990 where Goths had friends named Nikki.)

The friendship with the kindhearted Nikki eases Megan's awkward transition and gets her used to new surroundings. However, nothing can seem to stop the constant harassment she faces at the hands of Charleen Kane (Charlie Spradling), a catty wench who bullies Megan with the help of her sycophantic friends. In fact, it's gets so bad, that the oppressed outsider resorts to, like the majority of aggrieved teenagers, employing the malevolent assistance of the bloodthirsty mirror in her bedroom.

Her single-minded intention? Exact some painful vengeance on those who dare to agitate her Gothic integrity. Of course, things start off small: a vicious nose bleed here, a heart attack there. But soon the acts of retribution increase in their ghastliness, as Megan begins to slowly succumb to the mirror's evil allure.

The morbid splendour that is the performance and wardrobe of Rainbow Harvest as the glum Megan is what constantly elevates Mirror Mirror from being your standard mirror gone awry flick. Obviously emulating the stellar work of Beth Gondek as Jess Browning, the doomed new waver in Hello Mary Lou: Prom Night II, Miss Harvest manages to excrete a graceful elegance as the troubled mirror owner.

Which is something you wouldn't normally expect from someone who spends a great deal of time lurking around in a black Boy George style cowboy hat. But that's just it, despite these apparent roadblocks, Rainbow comes off as sexy and mysterious. So much so, that even her impromptu make out session with her blood covered mirror comes across as mildly titillating.

Also an eyeopener was the film's unique take on goths and physical education. Now, as a rule, the two usually don't mix. But, like its kooky premise, this film isn't about doing what's conventional. I can't count the number of times I saw Goths, or as they were called in my day, "Freaks," fleeing phys-ed for darker, less structured pastures. Yet, to see the ashen skinned Megan partaking in tennis and water polo was not only an illuminating spectacle, but a bewitching treat for the goth/freak senses.

I'd like to comment more on the merits of Mirror Mirror as a horror film; you know, things like gore, atmosphere and Yvonne De Carlo. But since I didn't really pay much attention to that aspect of the film, I'm gonna have to pass.

I will say that I did enjoy the editing of the water polo-shower sequence. Cutting back and forth between shots of a bodacious Charlie "Take a bite of peach" Spradling in the shower and underwater footage of her classmate's legs frantically kicking during a heated water polo match, the tension of this particular bit was just smidgeon behind Rainbow Harvest's mirror molestation scene in terms of perversion and overall entertainment value.



  1. Rainbow Harvest was in Old Enough! That movie was on heavy rotation during the early days of HBO.

    "athletic sandwich-loving boyfriend"--hee hee. Yeah, those jocks and their sandwiches.

    In NY State, phys ed was required for FOUR years in high school! I have to say that I had fun hanging out with my fellow nonathletic types, playing ping-pong.
    Here's the article on that J! controversy. I liked Terry and was sad to see him go.

  2. Old Enough, eh? That's weird. The Mirror Mirror folks act as if this was her first movie (she was credited as "and introducing Rainbow Harvest").

    I think he's even nursing a sandwich in the trailer.

    The word "four" should definitely be capitalized in that sentence. Yikes, that's a lot of gym.

    Terry? You mean the T.O. guy who wore the earthy blazers? If so, than yeah, it was kinda sad to see him go.

    Speaking of sad, I'm still waiting for there to be a category on the Dog Police.

  3. Hey there. Happy Sunday to you. I hope you've been enjoying the weekend. Take care. Good luck with the week ahead. Cheers!

  4. Cheers, mate.

    Melted cheese, didgeridoo, petrified washcloth.

  5. I was "fortunate" enough to see this one in a huge theater where it played opening night (before it went to the smallest house in the theater the next day). I've never seen a goth look more unappealing than Rainbow Harvest, alas.

  6. Ha! I like how you put fortunate in quotations. :D