Monday, August 18, 2003

There's a teenage boy living in our wall!

For some reason I was recently reminded of one of my favorite obscure horror movies, Bad Ronald. It's a made-for-TV thing from the mid 70's that, despite its cheesiness, is quite effectively creepy.

The main character, Ronald (of course), is a skinny, maladjusted teenage nerd with a somewhat domineering mother. He, as far as I can remember, has no friends, girls reject him, and spends much of his time reading and writing fantasy stories. One day he gets into an argument with a girl who's been taunting him. He shoves her, she hits her head on rock, and dies. When he confesses to his mother what he's done, she comes up with the bizarre idea of walling him up in the unfinished second bathroom. Ronald lives in the room several weeks, his only contact with the outside world is his mother. When the police come to the house asking about Ronald, his mother says he ran away. One day his mother becomes ill, has to go the hospital, and ends up dying. The house is sold. Meanwhile, Ronald is still living in his secret room. The new family has two or three daughters in their early to late teens and Ronald becomes obsessed with one of them. He drills peep holes so he can spy on the happy family. When the house is empty, Ronald leaves his room to steal food and go through the girls' belongings. As time passes, he becomes more and disturbed, imagining himself and the girl he's obsessed with as characters in the sword and sorcery fantasy world he's drawing on the walls of his tiny room. The final scene of the movie is, if I remember correctly, Ronald crashing through the wall as the family watches TV. Imagine how surprised they were.

I've seen Bad Ronald several times, but unfortunately the last time was in the late 80's. I have no idea if it's currently available on video or DVD. I almost don't want to own a copy because, if I had it to watch anytime I wanted, it would lose all its power. Movies always seem more enjoyable to me if I catch them on TV at some odd hour rather than watching a video. In the days before VCRs became common, if a movie came on a 3:30AM and you wanted to see it you had two options: stay up and watch it or set your alarm clock for ten minutes before the movie starts. Bad Ronald is the kind of movie you should stay up for.

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