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Happy face murders

Threat advisory: High - High risk of entertaining activities

Movie propaganda

They were searching for a killer. She was searching for a way out.

Truth is stranger than fiction in this shocking thriller - based on actual events - about a grisly homicide in a small town and the web of lies surrounding it. When a young woman is found brutally murdered, Detective Jen Powell (Marg Helgenberger) is called in to investigate. Her key witness is a grandmother named Lorraine Petrovich (Ann-Margret) whose involvement with an abusive younger man appears to have given her crucial information about the case. As the details of Lorraine's story become increasingly bizarre, Powell and her assistant, Dylan McCarthy (Henry Thomas) are sent on a trail of ever startling clues... leading to an astonishing glimpse into the mind of a cold-blooded killer!

Also starring Nicholas Campbell as Rusty Zuvic, Rick Peters as Billy Lee Peterson, David McIlwraith as Alan Sanford, Bruce Gray as Ephraim Quince and JC Mackenzie as Ed Baker. Written by John Pielmeier, directed by Brian Trenchard-Smith.

Intelligence analyst

Special Agent Matti

Theatrical report

Weird and weirder.

The scariest part of this film is that it's based on reality; there are people in the USA who think that this is normal behaviour.


There's a great happy face motif that runs through Happy face murders, they are as ubiquitous in this movie as they are in the virtual world. =8^}. The trouble is that it is such a major part of the plot that it should be given more prominence than title shots. If you're going to use a motif then use it. Brian plays mind games really well but they were under-utilised.

Marg and Henry play Old Cop, Young Cop pretty well but there's little to distinguish their performance or their story from the hundreds of other films, films and TV shows that have used the device. Ann-Margret is completely whacked out; it's no wonder that Lorraine works in a mental institution: it makes her feel like she's at home. She also manages to lie very well to everyone, when she needs to, which is a good thing to see on the screen. There's no pandering to idiots who can't figure out what's going on without subtitles.

Since Happy face murders is a mystery it's good to have believable liars wafting about the place, don't you think?

This made-for-TV movie offers no great contribution to the understanding of the human condition but it will fill in part of a wet weekend. There's no need to activate the brain to follow the story and that can be a bonus come Sunday afternoon.

Security censorship classification

MA 15+ (High level violence)

Surveillance time

95 minutes (1:35 hours)

Not for public release in Australia before date

19 May 2000

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