A gothic horror tale that can't decide between camp amusement or gory pandering, THE LANDLADY stars Talia Shire as a psycho who is supposed to be attacking her victims with relish but, in Shire's potrayal, more suggests a wallflower half-heartedly trying to become a lady wrestler.
Self-righteous Melanie Leroy (Talia Shire) abhors the infidelity of her husband Ralston (Nathan Le Grand) because it blemishes her idealization of marital bliss. After killing Ralston by feeding him shellfish to which he is fatally allergic, Melanie moves into an apartment building she has
inherited. She sets her sights on one of the tenants, handsome social worker Patrick Forman (Jack Coleman). Melanie installs surveillance equipment (replete with a two-way mirror) to give her a bird's eye view of Patrick's pad. She also kills building manager Justine Welch (Bette Ford) for asking
too many questions about Ralston's demise.
Continuing her pursuit of Patrick, Melanie forces his girlfriend Liz Reese, (Melissa Behr), at gunpoint to overdose on medication. When a tenant, a hooker named Venice (Susie Singer), spies Melanie's two-way mirror set-up, Melanie bashes in her skull with a lamp, frames one of Venice's johns, and
shoots him, too.
When Patrick wants to simply remain friends with Melanie, Melanie knocks him unconscious and ties him up. When building super Pepper McAllen (Bruce Weitz) and inquisitive tenant Lawrence Gerard (Clement von Franckenstein) stumble onto Melanie's string of homicides, she is forced to kill them. When
Patrick's client, Jenny Hagen (Dee Freeman), comes looking for her missing case worker, Melanie tries to smother her with a dry cleaning bag and then stabs her with a letter opener. Having freed himself, Patrick tackles his amorous landlady; in the scuffle, he shoots Melanie with her own pistol.
This flick is more remarkable for the number of killing methods on display than it is for any discernible variety in its writing or acting. Talia Shire is handicapped by a screenplay that rips off the modern classic THE STEPFATHER (1987) without deciding whether to build up the body count for
frissons or laughter. While talented thesps like Bruce Weitz and Bette Ford give it the old college try, Shire does no more than nibble at the scenery. Hampered by its tentative black comedy tone, THE LANDLADY contributes to the decline of the "Crazy Old Broad" horror subgenre, popularized by
WHATEVER HAPPENED TO BABY JANE? (1962). (Graphic violence, profanity, sexual situations, substance abuse.)
Cast & Details See all »
- Released: 1998
- Rating: R
- Review: A gothic horror tale that can't decide between camp amusement or gory pandering, THE LANDLADY stars Talia Shire as a psycho who is supposed to be attacking her victims with relish but, in Shire's potrayal, more suggests a wallflower half-heartedly trying t… (more)