The movie industry learned that fans of superstar horror author Stephen King would flock like lemmings to any adaptation of his work, no matter how miserable the flick turned out to be. Thus it was inevitable that Dean R. Koontz, often called the "Stephen King of the West Coast," would
draw the interest of producers looking for a low-risk, high-return property.
Koontz is an accomplished tale-spinner who takes some of the hoariest cliches of fiction--evil twins, talking dogs, angry blobs--and makes them fresh and fearful through sheer storytelling virtuosity and sympathetic characters. His narratives move at a relentless, cinematic pace, and at first
glance Koontz would seem an ideal author to adapt to the screen. Then again, so did King, and few worthwhile productions resulted.
Based on a 1980 Koontz thriller, WHISPERS begins with L.A. writer Hilary Thomas (Victoria Tennant) unexpectedly and viciously threatened by a man she barely knows, northern California landowner Bruno Clavell (Jean Leclerc). Hilary barely eludes the knife-wielding madman, then faces police
skepticism when sources place Bruno hundreds of miles away at the time. Directly after the cops leave, Bruno attacks again. This time Hilary manages to wound him mortally. Investigating officer Tony Clemenza (Chris Sarandon) is suitably ashamed of his earlier conduct, and his apologies to Hilary
blossom into romance, but their bliss shatters when the supposedly deceased Bruno menaces Hilary a third time. Has the unstoppable psycho returned from the grave? The plot offers a rational though shockingly bizarre explanation for events, as Hilary and Tony head for the Clavell estate for a final
The book was hardly one of Koontz's best, but the film version of WHISPERS seldom rises even to the level of mediocrity. Supporting performances are cartoonish, while classy leading lady Victoria Tennant (the daughter of famous British agent Cecil Tennant) seems decidedly out of place here,
streaking nude across the screen after the slasher surprises her in the hot tub. Frequent and pointless lapses in taste include yet another comic coroner who happily gulps down a meal on the job while the other characters get nauseous (will filmmakers ever tire of this bit?); and an obese
funeral-home director who shouts "Here comes the hearse!" as he copulates with an undraped female body--it's not a corpse, just a pale hooker enacting a sicko necrophiliac fantasy.
The title refers to a loathsome punishment Bruno's pious fanatic of a mother inflicted upon him in childhood, the trauma that made him what he is. WHISPERS works best as the heroes piece together the stalker's twisted history. Jean Leclerc, of TV's "All My Children," isn't an elemental mass of
muscle like the novel's Bruno, but he does convey the more pitiable aspects of the demented fiend. While the story line logically explains Bruno's resurrection, it does not show how Tony can get cut to ribbons at one point but be back on his feet moments later to rescue his lady love. Producer Don
Carmody hit pay dirt when his teen-sex comedy PORKY'S became a surprise sensation in 1982. WHISPERS had a much lower profile, coming to videotape early in 1991. Avid readers of Dean R. Koontz may find it worth a rental just for curiosity's sake, but beware--that will only encourage more
adaptations. (Violence, profanity, sexual situations, adult situations, nudity.)
Cast & Details See all »
- Released: 1990
- Rating: R
- Review: The movie industry learned that fans of superstar horror author Stephen King would flock like lemmings to any adaptation of his work, no matter how miserable the flick turned out to be. Thus it was inevitable that Dean R. Koontz, often called the "Stephen… (more)