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Lovers Lane Blu-ray Review

Written by Robert Gold

Blu-ray released by Arrow Video

Directed by Jon Steven Ward
Written by Geof Miller and Rory Veal
1999, 89 minutes, Not Rated
Released on April 25th, 2023

Erin J. Dean as Mandy Anderson
Riley Smith as Michael Lamson
Sarah Lancaster as Chloe Grefe
Anna Faris as Jannelle
Matt Reidy as Sheriff Tom Anderson
Suzanne Bouchard as Penny Lamson
Richard Sanders as Jack Grefe

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Thirteen years ago, a small town suffered a scandal when the high school principal’s husband and the sheriff’s wife were murdered at Lovers Lane during an apparent romantic interlude. The hook-handed killer was caught and institutionalized, but now, all these years later, as Valentine’s Day draws near, he escapes and targets his victims’ children. The sheriff’s daughter Mandy, the principal’s son Mike and a bunch of their friends plan on spending the holiday at the popular make-out location, but they are all set to have their hearts broken. The body count grows and the mystery deepens, but not everything is as it seems, as the town is full of secrets.

After the success of John Carpenter’s Halloween, the following decade took great pleasure in setting slasher movies on calendar holidays (My Bloody Valentine, April Fool’s Day), summer camps (Friday the 13th, The Burning) and school functions (Prom Night, Graduation Day). The craze slowly died out but was revived in the mid-’90s with Wes Craven’s Scream. A trio of Valentine’s Day slashers quickly followed, including Valentine, Cherry Falls and Lovers Lane.

Lovers Lane is a low-budget slasher with an intriguing premise and a lot of melodrama paired with a number of off-camera kills. There is some blood and brief nudity, but the story gets bogged down with an abundance of unnecessary plot twists. The characters are largely forgettable, the mystery is lacking any real suspects or red herrings and the twist ending is forced. The overwritten script is determined to set up interesting characters but offers no backstory for the majority despite a convoluted series of family connections.

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Written and produced by Geof Miller (Deepstar Six) and Rory Veal (Shredder), and directed by Jon Steven Ward (Equal Impact), the story could take place anywhere in America, as the town and school remain unnamed and the wardrobe is contemporary ‘90s. The jock’s jacket and the cheerleader’s uniform bear no logos or team names and the cop cars are largely unmarked. A big distraction comes when one of the main actresses cut her hair before filming concluded and is forced to wear a terrible wig for half of her scenes.

The cast is pretty forgettable with one exception, as this marks the debut of Anna Faris (Just Friends), who would quickly follow this picture with a series of films in the Scary Movie franchise. Faris plays big-hearted cheerleader Jannelle, the new girl at school, and is instantly likeable. Erin J. Dean (Lolita, 1997) does a fine job as Final Girl Mandy as does Matt Reidy (The Judge) as her father Sheriff Tom Anderson. There are no real stinkers in the bunch and performances are fine but unremarkable. Slasher films make a habit of casting at least one familiar face to carry authority and in this case, it’s Richard Sanders (WKRP in Cincinnati) as Jack Grefe, who runs the asylum and is the sheriff’s half-brother, making two of the kids cousins – although nobody acknowledges this.

There is a lot of nonsense in Lovers Lane without a doubt, but its heart is in the right place and it tries to keep things interesting by adapting an urban legend and playing it straight during the heyday of horror-comedy-meta slashers. It is too talky and there is a serious lack of blood, but it’s not the worst straight-to-video slasher I’ve seen. Jon Ward is a competent director and the script tries to capture small-town life, but you may want to stream this one before committing to a purchase. Recommended to Anna Faris devotees and fans of holiday-themed slashers.

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Video and Audio:

Presented in both the native 1.85:1 aspect ratio and the original home video 1.33:1, this new 4K scan and 2K restoration of the original camera negative is a giant step up from previous releases. The DVD was very dark, making it difficult to see what was happening in the night scenes, but while the new scan is an improvement, there are still some brightness issues stemming from the production. Detail is sharp and colors are bright and generally pop while flesh tones appear natural throughout.

On the old DVD music cues occasionally drowned out dialogue and the track was generally muddy. This new release brings an impressive LPCM 2.0 stereo mix that is a great improvement. There are still limitations from the original source recording but they are minor in comparison.

Optional English subtitles are included for anyone in need.

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Special Features:

In their audio commentary, writer/producer duo Rory Veal and Geof Miller candidly discuss the production history through a series of colorful anecdotes that are informative and entertaining.

In Screaming Teens: The Legacy of Lovers Lane (32 minutes), Rory Veal and Geof Miller share their influences, their writing process and themes for this story. Other topics include casting and memories of the director. They are joined by actors Matt Reidy, who plays the sheriff, and Carter Roy, who appears in the opening scene. Everyone shares fun production stories and tells their favorite scenes. The producers also share a humorous story about working with fire.

The original trailer is included.

A photo gallery (109 images) features stills from the movie and a few publicity shots.

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Movie: Twoandahalfstars Cover
Buy Amazon Us
Buy Amazon Uk
Video: Threeandahalfstars
Audio: Fourstars
Features: Twoandahalfstars
Overall: 3 Star Rating

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About The Author
Robert Gold
Author: Robert Gold
Staff Reviewer - USA
Robert's favorite genres include horror (foreign and domestic), Asian cinema and pornography (foreign and domestic). His ability to seek out and enjoy shot on video (SOV) horror movies is unmatched. His love of films with a budget under $100,000 is unapologetic.
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