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Black Rainbow

UK 1989
produced by
Geoffrey Helman, John Quested, George A. Walker (executive) for Goldcrest
directed by Mike Hodges
starring Rosanna Arquette, Jason Robards, Tom Hulce, Mark Joy, Ron Rosenthal, John Bennes, Linda Pierce, Olek Krupa, Marty Terry, Ed Grady, Jon Thompson, Helen Baldwin, Darla N.Warner, Christopher L. Gray, Lucy Williams, Peter Townes, Dan Cox, William Brown, Rick Warner, Dandy stevenson, Rebecca Hogan, Georgia Allen, Brenda Mitchell, Princess Wilson, Mert Hatfield, Wallace Merck, Mary Ratliff, Ed Lillard, Judy Simpson, Willie Stratford, Kay Joiner, Jerry Rushing, Muse Watson, Herbert Eley, Janelle Cochrane, Joe Inscoe, Joyce Bowden-Kirby, George Hart, Ivan Green, James G.Martin jr, Tate Gardner, Christina Taylor, Jeffrey Taylor, Corbin Gurkin
written by Mike Hodges, music by John Scott

review by
Mike Haberfelner

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Walt (Jason Robards) takes his daughter Martha (Rosanna Arquette) on the road through the American South to do shows as a fake medium, seeing the whole thing more as a showbiz venture than actual fraud. But one day during a show, Martha rather unexpectedly really gets into contact with the other side, and suddenly she can predict deaths. This gets reporter Gary (Tom Hulce) interested, so he follows the father-and-daughter team through the country (and at one time even gets the chance to bed Martha). However, at one instant, Martha has also predicts a contract killing, which gets the culprits, businessman Silas (John Bennes) and his hitman Lloyd (Mark Joy), on their tows, since she might be able to identify the killer - and thus Lloyd has to eliminate her.

During one of her shows, Martha sees her own father's death, and sends her astral projection to warn him - however, instead of saving him, Martha's astral projection lures Lloyd - who thinks she's real - to her father, whom he then shoots rather by accident.

Sure, the baddies all get their just desserts in the end, but Martha simply vanishes into thin air - and since then, Gary tries to track her down ... but never manages to catch more than her spirit.


There are many things to like about this film, it's competently directed, beautifully shot, well-acted (only the usually dependable Tom Hulce seems to struggle with his role), the script shows at least hints of intelligence, and an intentional lack of special effects puts the film into the right perspective.

However, the film is unfortunately far less than perfect, it simply tries to sit between too many stools: It's part family drama, part down-to-earth crimethriller, part supernatural horror, part satire - and all these elements don't really come together as they lack room to bloom and flourish. So the film is not touching enough for a family drama, lacks suspense to work as a crimethriller, lacks scares to work as a horror film, and lacks real bite to work as a satire. Black Rainbow probably would have been great had director/screenwriter Hodges decided which way to go with it, but as it is, it's just mediocre.


review © by Mike Haberfelner


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Robots and rats,
demons and potholes,
cuddly toys and
shopping mall Santas,
love and death and everything in between,
Tales to Chill
Your Bones to

is all of that.


Tales to Chill
Your Bones to
a collection of short stories and mini-plays
ranging from the horrific to the darkly humourous,
from the post-apocalyptic
to the weirdly romantic,
tales that will give you a chill and maybe a chuckle, all thought up by
the twisted mind of
screenwriter and film reviewer
Michael Haberfelner.


Tales to Chill
Your Bones to

the new anthology by
Michael Haberfelner


Out now from




On the same day
a Burglar wants to kill you
and your Ex wants
to make up ...
... and for the life of it,
you can't decide


A Killer Conversation

produced by and starring
Melanie Denholme
directed by
David V.G. Davies
written by
Michael Haberfelner
Ryan Hunter and
Rudy Barrow

out now on DVD