Lisa, Bright and Dark
Directed by Jeannot Szwarc, Starring Kay Lenz (1973).
Movie review by Greg Goodsell
This “Kindertrauma” favorite had all my fellow classmates in junior high talking about it the day it was telecast on November 28, 1973. Lisa, Bright and Dark had some strong shocking content for its day and innumerable links to the horror genre as well. We will get to this in a moment …
When we first meet Lisa (Kay Lenz), she appears to be just yet another spoiled rich kid whiling away her senior year before embarking on to her college years. Her mom (Anne Baxter) and dad (John Forsythe) are terribly conservative and wealthy, although they seem a bit old to have a 17-year-old daughter. Straight away, things begin to go awry. Subject to mood swings, she tells off her steady boyfriend Brian at a party in front of a bunch of her fellow students, only to re-emerge minutes later smiling and friendly. Something is drastically wrong however. After a shopping spree collecting the latest “Marcia Brady” drag, she forces her way into the car of a complete stranger. Lisa then decides her clothes are too young for her and sets them alight in the car! Imagine all that melted polyester meeting that ugly plaid interior!
|YICCHH I shudder at those bad 70's fashions|
Lisa, Bright and Dark is at its heart a low-to-no budget telefilm with ghastly fashions, but remains highly relevant today. Mental illness remains highly stigmatized in the United States today, and many young women may find themselves in a home situation where the parents and guardians refuse to acknowledge it as it reflects negatively on them. There is also an anti-psychiatrist bias as well. High school guidance counselors, unable to deal with the complexity of teenagers, often reach for the mantra of “Your child needs professional help …” whether it be for nail biting or multiple personality disorder. Not helping the situation are contemporary mental health professional themselves, who glibly prescribe “happy pills” for patients in lieu of addressing their root problems.
|Did you get that audition for the Brian Depalma Catsup commercial? |
|WRONG! It's spelled SLAYER!|
Director Jeannot Szwarc is no stranger to horror film fans, directing William Castle’s Bug (1975) as well as the most horrifying Night Gallery TV episode, “The Caterpillar.” He is also the man responsible for such fan favorites as Jaws 2 (1978) and Somewhere in Time (1980), and remains active in television in the present day.
|Hey can you drive me over to the set of Match Game, I'm pretty stoned|
As for Lisa, she does “get help” at the end of the film, but we are left with the definite impression that she’s currently pushing a shopping cart and picking through Dumpsters. Overall, Lisa, Bright and Dark still packs a punch and raises many questions that have yet to be addressed in current society.