Now...I wasn't even aware that this movie existed until about a year ago, when me and a friend got bored and started watching The Exorcist together over Skype. I was getting up to refill my glass of iced tea and lemonade when I hear him say, "Hey, what was the name of that one movie with Linda Blair where there's a witch or something living in her house? I think it was a TV movie." I stopped dead in my tracks and immediately went "WHAT? I have no idea, but I need to find that movie. Like, now!" Because, seriously. Linda Blair, witches, and the low production value of a television movie? What was it, how did I not know of it, where could I get my hands on a copy, and would it be as epically shitty as Roller Boogie? A little Google-fu led me to this turdtastic masterpiece:
Also, it was directed by Wes Craven. Holy crap. This movie was practically made just for me.
We open on a car careening wildly around twists and curves until it stops in a literal blaze of glory, while a superimposed image of a chick in Halloween Express costume contacts sneers at it. We then meet up with our two stars: Linda Blair, and the dead poodle that's resting on her head.
For shame, Linda. I thought you were all about animal rights. Anyway, Linda plays Rachel. Rachel is a typical teenager. She has dead poodle hair, her own horse named Sundance, and a boyfriend who wears cowboy hats, so I guess life is just a big old bowl of cherries for her. Until one morning, when she wakes up and her parents are all "Your aunt and uncle have died in a car crash and your cousin is coming to live with us." Rachel is all "Yay, I haven't seen her since we were both in diapers!" and imagines that this will be like having a sister of her very own. The cousin, Julia, arrives and hates Sundance right off the bat. Ruh-roh.
Despite this, Rachel is kind of stoked about Julia's arrival. So much so that she invites her to share her bedroom, even offering to let her have the bed while Rachel sleeps on a futon, so they can be the bestest friends ever. Julia looks around the bedroom with a bewildered look on her face, probably wondering, as I am, why Rachel decorates her room with framed pictures of herself wearing bikinis. Then she picks up a picture of Rachel's boyfriend and asks, in her ridiculously exaggerated southern drawl, "Is he your solid fellar?"
After I unpause the movie following my 10 minute break to laugh my ass off over "solid fellar" (seriously, I think I broke a rib), Rachel tries to convince Julia to come to the stable and make friends with Sundance. Julia refuses. Somehow, I think this aversion to horses will be important. Rachel gives up and goes to brush the horse by herself, which is when we meet her brother, Peter, as he comes home from guitar practice or whatever. In a tone that is inappropriately flirtatious, considering that he is her BROTHER, Rachel asks Peter to
babysit Julia that night while she goes out on a date with her solid fellar. Peter's all "Hell to the no" and Rachel retorts, "But she's kinda prettyyyyy." That's gross, Rachel. Between you flirting with your brother and then implying that he will find Julia, his COUSIN, attractive, you are making me very uncomfortable.
Julia is late for dinner that night and comes out in a dress, and Rachel looks on as both Peter and her dad fawn over Julia as if she were not related to them or anything. Julia tells some story about superstitions in the Ozarks, where she's from, and Peter asks her if she had a boyfriend there. It's getting all VC Andrews up in there, seriously. Mike the solid fellar arrives for he and Rachel's date, and he too finds Julia hot, but at least he's not related to her. He and Rachel leave for their date, and Rachel remarks to him that it's really weird that Julia has such a pronounced southern accent, considering that she only spent her summers in Arkansas and went to school in Massachusetts the rest of the year. Odd indeed. Rachel goes on to make fun of Julia's clothing. Wow, Rachel. Earlier that morning you were prepared to be Julia's BFF and merely 8 hours later you're being a raging bitch. How nice. As a side note, she also found a tooth in Julia's luggage. Weird. Maybe.
The next morning, clearly deciding to be nice again, Rachel invites Julia for a day of shopping and Peter falls all over himself offering to drive them. Rachel's all "You never offered rides before" and Peter blushes and looks at Julia adoringly. Good lord, seriously? She's your cousin, hon. Rachel tells him they'll walk. She and Julia head off, stopping first to meet up with Rachel's best friend, Carolyn. Imagine my double take when Carolyn turns out to be freaking Nanny Fine.
Julia runs off by herself to perform a mysterious errand, and Rachel shoots the shit with Carolyn. Rachel excitedly tells Carolyn that Peter has a crush on Julia. AND NEITHER GIRL THINKS THIS IS ABNORMAL. Everyone in this movie is screwed up in the head. Just then, Julia returns from her errand, which was apparently to go get her own poodle hair, and Rachel and Carolyn are all "OMG you look awesome!" Julia says that she asked the salon to just make her look half as nice as Rachel, which is fucking hilarious, because Julia's poodle hair is styled nicely and looks way better than Rachel's Margaret White nightmare she's got going on.
On the way home, the girls conveniently run into Professor Jarvis, who is "the neighborhood expert on the occult." Really? I'm jealous. No neighborhood I have ever lived in had its own occult expert. Prof. Jarvis remarks that it's very intriguing indeed that Julia claims to not be originally from the Ozarks, because she totally for reals has the facial features of somebody from Arkansas. Julia looks uncomfortable at this and heads off with Carolyn while Rachel stays behind to talk to the professor. As Julia and Carolyn are walking along, Sundance escapes his pen and starts beating the ever loving crap out of Julia. For real. He even smashes the window of the car Julia scrambled into for safety with his hoof. After Sundance is corralled and it is determined that Julia only has an ankle sprain and is not deathly injured, Rachel's mother expresses her misgivings over whether Rachel ought to be able to keep the horse. Then she tells her that she can't go out with Carolyn tonight because she needs to stay home and entertain Julia. And Rachel is all:
Mom tells her to stfu and obey. Rachel stalks off to her room, where she sees her dad tending to Julia's sprain and Julia telling him that he has "Such gentle hands, Uncle Tom," and the dad tells her to just call him Tom. Sick. Later that night, Dad informs Rachel that Sundance either gets boarded or he gets sold, and Peter says the horse ought to be shot. Rachel points out that Sundance never was violent toward anybody but Julia, so can't she just, you know, stay away from him instead? And Dad and Peter get all pissy because they both have boners for Julia and Rachel can just go die in a fire for all they care. Or something.
Julia continues to slowly take over the whole family over the next few weeks. One day, as she is busy giving Rachel's dad a massage (seriously), Rachel stalks out of her room wearing what I at first thought was a bath towel, and then realized in horror was her dress for the country club dance the next night. Holy shit, look at it:
As it turns out, Rachel agrees that her dress is fugly, because she's whining like a 4 year old about it. And it's her own fault, because she made it. Haha. Whatever is she going to do? It doesn't really matter, because she wakes up the next morning with a gross rash all over her face. So, no dance for you, Rachel. So sorry. That would be sadder if I liked you more. To add insult to injury, literally, Peter comes waltzing in the room and asks Rachel if she'll be a doll and let Julia go to the dance with Mike the solid fellar, because he (Peter) really wants her to be there to hear him play the guitar. *Eyeroll* And while we're already pissing all over Rachel's hopes and dreams, let's throw in the fact that Julia is not only taking Rachel's boyfriend to the dance, she also takes her bath towel dress and uses some evil sorcery (probably literally) to make it look...well, less like a bath towel, anyway. This whole family sucks. A lot.
So, while Julia is at the dance, Rachel starts snooping through her shit. She discovers some used matches, a lock of her own hair in Julia's wastebasket, and what looks like either a giant penis or a dead meerkat embryo with Sundance's hair glued onto it. Hmmm. What does it all mean? Rachel worries that Julia has killed Sundance, but no, he's fine. Curiouser and curiouser.
Hours later, Julia and Mike still have not returned home. Peter comes home and is all butthurt as he whines to Rachel that Julia and Mike were so into each other all night that Julia never even noticed him play his guitar. Seriously dude, you are pouting over YOUR COUSIN, OMFG. GET THE HELL OVER IT. IF YOU SHARE DNA, IT'S NOT OK. Rachel is butthurt as well. Who does that bitch Julia think she is, getting all up in Mike's business like that? Whore.
The next day is the day of the big horse show (of course it is), and Rachel's face herpes has magically cleared up overnight (of course it has). She confronts Mike at the show, and he's all "Sorry, I like your cousin better. Have a nice life." Bwahaha. Then, as she is riding Sundance, the horse loses his shit, goes crazy, and breaks his leg. And some horse doctor appears and kills him because you can't fix a broken horse leg. Or something. Is that really a thing? Do they really kill horses when they break a leg? Seems harsh. Poor Sundance.
And so the summer marches on. Rachel is increasingly becoming the red haired stepchild of the family, because everyone just effing loves Julia so very much. Julia has taken over her family, her boyfriend, even Carolyn, and Rachel spends her days seething in fury. She complains loudly and often, and Peter is like "You're sooooo jealous." Shut up, Peter. Just shut the hell up. Rachel goes to Professor Jarvis for advice and he gives her a bunch of books on witchcraft, from which Rachel learns that animals are super duper awesome at detecting a witch in their midst. The horse, you will not be at all surprised to learn, is the most super duper awesome at this. Hmmmmm. Rachel tries in vain to convince her parents that Julia is a witch, and they're like "Shut up and go to your room." They also suggest that perhaps that room ought to now be half her younger brother's room, because Julia should have Rachel's whole bedroom to herself. Because it's freaking Julia and she's all rainbows and unicorn toots and Rachel is a pile of dog shit. Or at least, that was the summary of what they said. Hope Rachel has a Plan B.
She does. And it sucks. She confronts Julia about being a witch and is all "I found all your weird witchy shit and I'm gonna get Professor Jarvis to back me up, beyotch." That last part was probably a mistake, since later that day Professor Jarvis turns up comatose. I'm shocked. Not. So, now he is incapacitated and unable to help her. Rachel heads back to the old witchcraft books and learns that a witch is vulnerable when she is sleeping. Good to know. Rachel sneaks up on Julia that night while she sleeps, but does nothing except steal her mail, which Julia had ripped up and threw in the garbage. Odd.
From the letter she has pieced together with scotch tape, Rachel learns that Julia was supposed to visit some chick named Mary over the summer. Conveniently, Mary left her phone number, so Rachel calls her and learns that Julia is, like, super wonderful and is involved in lots of causes for the good of man, and is even president of the glee club.
Burn. That night, Mom goes down to the kitchen and sees her husband and Julia feeding each other grapes, and SERIOUSLY, WTF HELL? What the hell is wrong with Wes Craven? Seriously, I feel like I really do need an answer. So Mom asks him if he's sure he isn't paying just a tad too much inappropriate attention to Julia, and his response is basically "No. Go to sleep, crazy lady." This movie is whack.
The next morning, Rachel finds that Mom has gone alone on a photography trip. And there's a map under Julia's bed with Mom's hair on it. And Dad is helping Julia try on Mom's clothing. Seriously, I don't even know anymore. Rachel takes it upon herself to develop the film from yesterday and, as expected, Julia does not appear. Rachel barely has time to contemplate this when Julia bursts in and starts beating the crap out of her, while revealing that the real Julia died in the car accident along with her parents and that Julia's body has been inhabited by the evil psycho housekeeper all this time. Sure, ok.
We end where we began, with the careening car shit and Julia's face superimposed over it. Only, I guess the car was really Mom's car all along? And there's a car chase thrown in with Julia in one car and Rachel and Mike in another. It's all very lame. To make a long story short, Rachel and Mike save Mom and run Julia's car off a cliff, which was the blazing car we saw at the beginning, I assume. There's a big family hug fest, and Dad buys Rachel a pony to replace Sundance. Yay.
Oh, and by the way, Julia isn't dead. She's working as a nanny now to a little girl who, we can assume, will probably be killed at some point so that Julia can take over her body and try again to do whatever the hell it was she was trying to accomplish. The end.
That was a painful experience, and yet strangely fulfilling. See you next time.