Dean Koontz's Mr. Murder (1998) (part 8 of 11)
We cut to Alfie in an alleyway behind a dumpster, eating a whole mess of candy bars and Pepperidge Farm cookies, once again feeding his “super metabolism”. A guy walks out of a nearby restaurant and goes to his motorcycle. Alfie comes up behind him, taking out his trademark “I’m gonna kill somebody” switchblade. Then he slices the guy up. Or, so we have to assume, because the movie definitely doesn’t show this.
Meanwhile, Marty and his family are in a cheap motel. One of the girls asks if there’s “storytime in motels”. Well, sure there is, little girl, but it usually costs you about $3.99 a minute. Or, so I’ve heard, anyway. In response, Marty pulls out his “Stories for Charlotte and Emily” book. They’re ecstatic that he brought it, but I’m sure not.
Naturally, as he tells one of his stories, we see Alfie hearing it in his head with major reverb. He also has visions of Marty and his daughters, and, strangely, these images have Marty in them, almost as if Alfie’s “visions” were actually coming from someone else. Marty stops his story when he gets a sharp pain in his forehead. (Now he knows how we feel.)
“He’s inside of my head,” Marty says. Paige replies, “Fight it! Block him out!” Apparently, to block someone from having psychic visions of you, all you have to do is concentrate really hard on the story you’re reading. Marty’s story, by the way, is supposed to be some sort of horror-tinged Christmas story about an evil Santa who likes to eat reindeer. You don’t want to know all the details, but along the way, the story mentions stuff like “reindeer salad” and “reindeer soup”. So, just imagine Bubba’s speech about shrimp in Forrest Gump and replace the word “shrimp” with “reindeer”. That’ll give you a good sense of what this story’s like.
“It’s working!” Marty cries out. Alfie, thus psychically blocked, begins screaming like William Shatner in The Wrath of Khan. He then goes to a payphone and asks the operator to dial Alice and James Stillwater in Mammoth Lakes. Marty’s mom picks up the phone. Believing Alfie to be Marty, she asks if everything’s okay. “Everything’s great,” Alfie says. “Am I there?” [!!!] You know, it’s almost mind-boggling how stupid this movie is. Anyway, Alfie tells her he’s coming up without explaining why.
The next day at the police station, Lowbeck tells his partner that the lab has determined all the blood at Marty’s house belonged to Marty, and, still very much in Skeptical Plainclothes Detective Mode, wonders, “What kind of nutcase would store up two quarts of his own blood?” Let’s see, a guy stores up three-fifths of the blood in his body in such a way that the cops can’t tell it’s been sitting around in storage for a long time. Yeah, that’s way more likely than the story Marty’s telling.
His partner defends Marty, making Lowbeck suspicious. Sure enough, she’s got a couple of Marty’s books on her desk. What a coincidence, huh? Lowbeck asks if she’s going to “trap him in a house in the snow and saw his feet off”. (Ha ha, Misery, you just got zinged.) She admits to being a big fan of Marty’s and she knows a lot about him. This includes the fact that Marty and Paige got married right after they graduated from high school, which I guess is supposed to be some sort of positive character trait. Also, Marty’s parents are “like his best friends”. This is important to mention, because no one ever harms someone they love, right?
In response, Lowbeck happens to find a passage from one of Marty’s books (and it just happens to be the same book Carl was reading earlier) that describes a man killing his wife and daughter. “Sheila screamed, but what was the chance of anyone hearing her through the duct tape Gavin had wrapped seven times around her head? One time for each year of their marriage.” In addition to being completely talentless, it appears Marty hasn’t even mastered basic grammar yet.
Just then, the chief calls and Lowbeck’s partner, who, by the way, is named Del Rio, puts him on speakerphone. The chief asks if Lowbeck is there (why didn’t he just call Lowbeck?), to which Del Rio responds by gesturing towards Lowbeck with her hand. (Physical gestures are usually less effective when the person you’re talking to can’t see you.) The chief tells Lowbeck that the FBI is putting a man on the Stillwater case. Lowbeck protests, but the Chief says this came from way over his head.
Almost on cue, the FBI guy walks in, introducing himself as Agent Reiling. He tells Lowbeck, “Just think of me as a magic force field between you and the tabloids!” Whatever that means. I have a feeling he’s going to be more like a magic force field between the audience and coherent dialogue.
Back at the hotel, it’s early morning, and Marty is calling his parents again but only gets their answering machine. He then checks his voice mail at the house, and hears a message from his mom, who thoughtfully includes the information that “I just talked to you ten minutes ago!” This instantly clues Marty in that Alfie called his parents pretending to be him.
He calls up Lowbeck to get protection for his parents. At the station, however, Agent Reiling answers [?]. I never knew police detectives were quite this easy-going about who answers which phone. Reiling lies and tells Marty that Lowbeck’s busy right now, then patches him through to one of the Really Important Guys we saw earlier at the airport. I think he had a name, but let’s just call him Bill for the hell of it.
Bill agrees to send protection up to Marty’s parents’ house, then tells Marty they found evidence that supports his story, but they need to see him first. Marty figures out it’s a trick to get him to turn himself in, and hangs up. Over on his end, Bill decides they need to do something to “flush him out of the bush” and then orders some other guy to “get something in the papers”.
Meanwhile, we’re back at the high-tech facility where Alfie grew up. Drew Oslett, Sr. (sadly, still being played by James Coburn) is meeting with a scientist (who naturally turns out to be that “bitch of a specialist” from the earlier scenes. For a cloning operation, this place seems to be woefully understaffed). He asks for all the records of the “Triple W” project. (The Triple W project?) She protests at first, but eventually relents when Drew points out that everything in the facility is the property of Oslett Industries.
Next, we cut to a strip mall where Marty and his family are pulling up in their SUV. (By the way, one of Stephen Baldwin’s acting “choices” in this movie is a little gesture Marty does all the time where he runs his hand through his hair like he’s the Fonz, which he does in this scene as he gets out of the car. It’s actually quite comical that Baldwin thought of this as somehow enhancing his portrayal of Marty.) They walk up to a bank, but it’s not open yet. The younger daughter sees a stack of newspapers nearby. A headline on the front page reads “Mystery Writer Linked to Deaths” under a picture of Marty holding a pipe (I think. Either that or it’s a soup ladle). Making this semi-believable is that the article is actually printed “under the fold” (It’s often quite amusing how B-movies will often show their headlines appearing in huge letters at the very top of the front page, even for the most inconsequential events), but either way, they’re screwed if anyone at the bank sees his face in the paper. As the bank opens, Marty takes the whole stack of newspapers and dumps them in a nearby trash can. Yeah, that ought to take care of it.
Inside, Marty makes a big withdrawal. As the teller goes to get it approved, Marty decides to stare at a poster on the wall with the name of the bank on it. We cut to Alfie getting a vision of this, thus learning exactly where Marty is. (Way to go, Marty.)
As a consequence of this “psychic link” being established again, Marty has another sharp pain in his head. He tells Paige that he can’t block Alfie because “he’s too close”. When did physical distance suddenly become a factor?
Outside, Alfie is arriving at the same strip mall on his motorcycle. He heads for the bank, but before he can get there he’s stopped by one of Marty’s fans. She excitedly grabs his arm and drags him over to a bookstore to meet her mother. Mom asks what Marty Stillwater is doing in Lancaster. Alfie replies that they’ll “all read about it very soon.” Mom asks what the title of his next book is going to be called. Alfie looks off into the distance and says, “I’m thinking of calling it, The Man Entered the Room.” [!!!]
The two women giggle like schoolgirls upon hearing this brilliant title. The daughter then asks him to sign some copies of Crimes of Fashion. He does so, all the while standing in front of a big cardboard standup of Marty. Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to decide who gives the better performance, Stephen Baldwin or the cardboard cutout of him. The old woman says that Marty’s books helped her through the death of her husband [?]. Yeah, nothing quite like macabre horror books about men murdering their wives to help you cope with loss.
Back in the bank, the teller is counting out Marty’s money, practically pissing his pants because it’s ten thousand dollars. He offers to have a security guard escort them out. Marty refuses and they all beat a hasty retreat. Just then, the teller sees Marty’s face in the paper, and we see his lips flap up and down “comically” as he makes the connection.
Back in the bookstore, Alfie and the old woman are locked in an embrace [!] as the daughter just stands there, watching the two of them. Look, I don’t know what’s going on here, just make it stop. Just then, Alfie looks up through the windows and sees Marty’s SUV leaving the parking lot. He also sees the teller running out of the bank, screaming to everyone around him that “He’s wanted by the police!” and waving the newspaper around. Yes, that makes more sense then just quietly telling the bank’s security guard what happened. Alfie tells the two women that “Chapter Seven is happening right now”, and walks out.
We cut to Marty’s mom and dad up at the cabin. Marty’s mom hears a reporter talking about Marty on the radio. (Let me get this straight. Marty’s dad doesn’t want a phone up at the cabin, but a radio is okay?) On the radio, they’re talking about “police reports of bizarre behavior” and “a possible involvement in a Texas killing”. Mom sagely notes that “Marty’s never even been in Texas!” Well, I guess there’s nothing to worry about, then. Apparently, Marty’s parents agree, because they decide to simply sit and wait until Marty gets there.
Meanwhile, Daddy Oslett is going through a box of paperwork. He finds a picture of his son with Alfie and gets a thought. He walks over and picks up the newspaper with the picture of Marty on the front page. (Boy, it’s great to see newspapers are really making a comeback these days.) Daddy Oslett notes the resemblance and starts to put two and two together.
We cut to Drew, Jr. at a hardware store, with his nose in Crimes of Fashion as he shops for various sundry evil items (a saw blade, a box of nails, etc.). The idea is that he’s going to act out some of the evil stuff Marty’s characters have done in his book, but this will only barely be mentioned again. Drew gets a call on his cell phone from Daddy Oslett. Dad wants to know why Alfie looks like “the writer” instead of “the swimmer”. Drew, Jr.’s full reply is, “You know, you’re going to have to decide whether you’re with us or against us. Gotta make a choice, and you’ve gotta make it soon.” Then he hangs up. Well, that sure clears everything up.
Carl pops up to tell Drew about a strange police report he heard on “the uplink”. Marty was spotted at “a bookstore and/or a bank” in Lancaster and took off in “an SUV and/or motorcycle”. From this, Drew surmises that both Marty and Alfie are on their way to Marty’s parents’ house in Mammoth Falls.
Just then, we cut to Alfie arriving there, and of course, Marty’s parents assume he’s Marty. Alfie explains that there’s a man who looks just like him running around committing all these crimes. He then adds with a straight face, “We have to kill him so I can get my family back before it’s too late!” Naturally, the idea of murdering someone in cold blood doesn’t go over that well with Marty’s folks. They promise Alfie that they’ll get him some help (hopefully in the form of acting lessons).
The phone rings, but they decide not to answer it. The machine picks up and it turns out to be Marty. His parents just stare at Alfie, dumbfounded. Marty’s dad asks if that was a recording, and Alfie is appalled that they don’t believe him. “My real parents would have believed me!” he says, before concluding that they’re fakes, too [!]. Then he takes out his trademark “I’m gonna kill somebody” switchblade. So, it’s the end of the Stillwaters, or at least, that’s what I had to infer.