Question: I remember being scared out of my wits by a TV movie I happened across one boring Saturday afternoon when I was a kid. It would have aired in the late '70s or early '80s, and I was hoping you could tell me the name of it and whether it's available on video. From what I remember, it was about a teenage boy who was kind of a loser and an outcast at school. He lived alone with his weird, controlling mother in a rickety old house. Then his mother died suddenly and he so desperately wanted to stay in the house that he created a room within the walls of the house and secretly lived there even after the house was sold to a new family. He was such a loser that no one at school or in the neighborhood even noticed that he wasn't around anymore. Anyway, the new family had several attractive and popular teenage daughters that he then spied on and terrorized. I think he even killed a few of them eventually. As a military brat who moved into new houses every few years, I was thoroughly creeped out by the concept, and the memory of this movie has stuck with me. I would love to prove to my husband that I didn't make this up, so please help! Patricia S., Rochester, N.Y.
Televisionary: Jeez, Patricia hog all the summarizing glory and leave nothing for me, why don't you? You're thinking of the 1974 TV-movie Bad Ronald, which, along with similar offerings The Bermuda Depths and Don't Be Afraid of the Dark, keeps myself and my colleague FlickChick busy. Yet I can't let a reader down, so here's a repeat:
In the movie, which is stuck in many a viewer's memory, young, socially challenged Ronald (Scott Jacoby) accidentally kills a girl who mocks him. His overbearing, nutso mom (Kim Hunter) decides the only course of action is to build a false wall in front of the spare bathroom and hide the lad. Of course, she promptly dies during surgery, leaving Ronald in the house to lurk about when a new family, headed by Dabney Coleman and populated by comely daughters, moves in.
The psychological thriller, with its unsettling moments of Ronald watching the new inhabitants through drilled peepholes, isn't available on home video as far as I know.