Review: ‘A Deadly Legend,’ starring Corbin Bernsen, Judd Hirsch, Lori Petty, Kristen Anne Ferraro, Dwayne Thomas, Summer Crockett Moore and Tatiana Szpur

August 3, 2020

by Carla Hay

Kristen Anne Ferraro in “A Deadly Legend” (Photo courtesy of Gravitas Ventures)

“A Deadly Legend” 

Directed by Pamela Moriarty

Culture Representation: Taking place in the fictional Pilgrim County somewhere in the United States, the horror flick “A Deadly Legend” has a predominantly white cast (with a few African Americans and Asians and one Latino) representing the middle-class.

Culture Clash: A group of people encounter a curse that’s lasted for centuries and involves a vengeful witch.

Culture Audience: “A Deadly Legend” will appeal primarily to people who like low-budget horror films that are so bad that they’re almost hilarious.

Summer Crockett Moore and Daniella DeCaro in “A Deadly Legend” (Photo courtesy of Gravitas Ventures)

The horror film “A Deadly Legend” is so amateurly made that it looks like something that people from a community theater decided to do in order to get a feature film credit on their résumés. “A Deadly Legend” is the first feature film directed by Pamela Moriarty and written by Eric Wolf—and that lack of experience shows in every single minute of this sloppily made film. Kristen Anne Ferraro, who produced “A Deadly Legend,” also stars as the movie’s main protagonist, which explains why she has the lead role. It’s a lot easier to cast yourself as the star of a movie when you’re paying for the film.

And it seems like much of the budget was spent in hiring the cast’s veteran actors who have name recognition: Corbin Bernsen (of “L.A. Law” fame), Judd Hirsch (of “Taxi” fame) and Lori Petty (of “Tank Girl” and “A League of Their Own” fame), whose best career days are behind them if they’re now taking supporting roles in this type of bottom-of-the-barrel movie. Their level of experience is even more noticeable in “A Deadly Legend,” where they’re surrounded by people whose acting is so horrible, it makes Kim Kardashian in a movie look like the next Meryl Streep.

“A Deadly Legend” is a little overstuffed with characters, but the plot is fairly simple because it’s so derivative of dozens of other horror movies that have come before it: Some people uncover a longtime curse that involves a witch who’s out for revenge. And, of course, most of the horror happens when people are gathered in an isolated house. (The movie, which takes place in an unnamed state in the U.S., was actually filmed in New York state.)

The story takes place in the fictional Pilgrim County, where construction company owner Joan Huntar (played by Ferraro) and her lawyer Raj (played by Shravan Amin) are about to head into an important town council meeting. Joan and Raj want the town council to approve a major project for Huntar Construction: It’s the Pilgrim Lake Luxury Homes Project, where they plan to build homes in an undeveloped rural area. Joan and Raj are desperate for the town council’s approval for this project, since Huntar Construction is in dire financial straits and needs this project to stay in business.

At the town council meeting, one citizen is extremely vocal in expressing his disapproval of the project: Carl Turner (played by Hirsch), who owns an antiques store in town. Carl warns everyone at the meeting what will happen if construction breaks ground in the planned project area: “You’ll unleash what’s been buried for centuries!” Also at the meeting is longtime Pilgrim Lake resident Matthias Leary (played by Bernsen), who owns a crystal mineral shop in town. Despite Carl’s protest, the town council approves the project.

Joan is a widow with two teenage children: Krissy (played by Andee Buccheri) and her older brother Connor (played by John Pope). They are still grieving over the loss of Joan’s husband Bob (played by Jeffrey Doornbus), who died in a car accident. The car crash, which happened one night on a deserted road, is shown in the beginning of the movie to establish that something evil is lurking is Pilgrim County.

Bob was driving the car, and the passengers were Joan, Krissy and Krissy’s teenage cousin Amy Jones (played by Daniella DeCaro), when a young red-haired woman dressed in a white flowing dress suddenly appeared in the road. The car crashed when Bob tried to avoid hitting this mystery woman. It should come as no surprise to the audience that this woman is the ghost of a witch. The witch calls herself Luci (played by Tatiana Szpur), and she shows up again many times for the rest of the movie. (The movie reveals Luci’s backstory in a flashback scene that takes place in 1720.)

Ultimately, most of the movie’s characters end up in a remote lodge near the construction site, as construction begins for the Pilgrim Lake Luxury Homes Project. Because this is a low-budget film, the “construction” consists of one man operating a bulldozer. The lone construction worker on the site is a beer-guzzling roughneck named Mike Renfield (played by Eric Wolf), who is kept company by his kooky platonic female friend Wanda (played by Petty). Wanda brings some comic relief to the story, because it’s a running joke in the movie that Wanda keeps asking people if they have any beer.

Of course, the body count starts to pile up in this group of people who are at the lodge. In addition to Joan, Krissy, Connor and Amy, the other family members at the lodge are Bob’s sister/Joan’s sister-in-law Tina Jones (played by Summer Crockett Moore) and her husband Sam Jones (played by Dwayne A. Thomas), who are Amy’s parents. Sam works for Huntar Construction and is Mike’s no-nonsense immediate supervisor. Tina fancies herself to be a psychic—she holds a candlelit séance with the teenagers while wearing a T-shirt that says “I’m Not Weird. I’m Paranormal.”

Two other teenagers are also on the premises: quiet and mysterious Eli Leary (who is described as Matthias Leary’s grandson) and the outgoing and athletic Derek Rodriguez (played by Alan Pontes), who is Krissy’s love interest. Also at the lodge are attorney Raj and his divorced girlfriend Eva Chan (played by Jean Tree), who confides in Joan during a “girls talk” that Raj “saved” her from an abusive husband.

The pacing of “A Deadly Legend” sometimes drags, the dialogue is mostly forgettable, and the acting by most of this movie’s cast is so “train wreck” bad that it really is comical at times. Luci the witch is supposed to be terrifying, but Szpur’s sluggish portrayal makes Luci look like a Victorian Goth girl who’s taken too many opioid pills.

At least Petty brings some laughs as the somewhat unnecessary character of Wanda, because Wanda is so goofy that her personality is a welcome distraction from this often-boring film. But most of the other intentional humor in the movie falls very flat.

At one point in the story, Mike the construction worker is suspected of being up to no good, so his supervisor Sam goes to confront him. When some of the other people warn Sam that Mike could be dangerous, Sam replies, “I’m his boss. If he hasn’t killed me by now, he never will.” That’s what supposed to pass for humor in this awful movie.

And the visual effects are so messy and cheap-looking that they make the intended horror look very unconvincing. “A Deadly Legend” also makes a bizarre attempt to look “edgy” in a scene where someone has a nightmarish vision that shows an incestuous kiss between Joan and her son Connor, who exchange a large squid-like creature in their mouths during the kiss. It looks like a dumb stunt placed in the movie for “shock” effect. Ultimately, “A Deadly Legend” commits the worst sin of all for a horror movie: There is absolutely nothing scary about this terrible film.

Gravitas Ventures released “A Deadly Legend” on digital and VOD on July 24, 2020.

‘Orange Is the New Black’ team backstage at the 2017 Screen Actors Guild Awards

January 30, 2017

by Carla Hay

The 23rd Annual Screen Actors Guild (SAG) Awards took place on January 29, 2017, at the Shrine Auditorium in Los Angeles.

“ORANGE IS THE NEW BLACK”

SAG Award win:

Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Comedy Series

Here is what these SAG Award winners said backstage in the SAG Awards press room.

The cast of "Orange Is the New Black" at the 2017 Screen Actors Guild Awards in Los Angeles.
The cast of “Orange Is the New Black” at the 2017 Screen Actors Guild Awards in Los Angeles. (Photo by Frazer Harrison/Getty Images)

BACKSTAGE INTERVIEW

How do you all stay connected without getting into feuds?

Samira Wiley: You’re asking us that most of us are women. I think a lot of us in the very first year of this show, most of us were did not have any fame or anything like that. And we really went through this journey together, figuring out how to navigate press, how to navigate being in this industry. And I think that that really fostered a camaraderie.

Kimiko Glenn: I feel like there’s a lot of respect between all of us. I know every time the show comes out, I’m like blown away. I’m texting everyone, like, “Wow that’s amazing.” I feel like it and everyone are so wonderful and sweet, and everyone is just doing their thing so well.

Emily Althaus: It’s also work. We’re going to work, and so we have the benefit of becoming great friends after working maybe such long hours or whatever but it still works, so we’re professional adults.

Glenn: It’s pretty chill.

Annie Golden: We’re professional adults who have been totally blessed. So there it is. It’s gratitude and you’re happy to be there with each other.

James McMenamin: The cast is wonderful and talented. The women are talented and strong and impassioned. And I’m just proud to be part of it.

Samira, can you tell a little about when you found out the arc of your character in this season that was so emotional? How was the process well until the end?

Wiley: Sure. Absolutely. I knew about what was going to happen to my character over a year before it got released. The real story is I knew about six to nine months before the rest of my cast knew, so the entire time we were shooting Season 4, I had a dirty little secret. I remember when that when that script first came out and everyone else you know found out just by reading it and getting to the end, I got a lot of texts a lot of calls that day. But you know, we all got through it together, just like we’ve all gotten through everything together this entire journey.

You had a case of the giggles during your acceptance speech. Was it just because you’re still a winner or was there a particular mood or a particular meaning to tonight?

Abigail Savage: We were surprised. I didn’t expect it.

Wiley: Okay, the way they work these seats, the last time we were sort of upfront, and another time we were sort of upfront, but this time, we were in the back, so we didn’t think we were going to win.

Golden: We’ve never had Taylor Schilling with us. She’s always been working when we have this award. So the fact that Taylor had to step up. And then the mood on the red carpet was so politically heavy we were like, “How’s our girl going to going to pull it out?” And she pulled it out. It’s like we were giddy.

What does it mean to all of you to be on a show as diverse as inclusive as “Orange Is the New Black” during these times that are quite divisive right now?

Lori Petty: I think we reflect reality and that all of the separations are man-made. We live on Carl Sagan’s pale blue dot, and we’ve always been one, will always be one, and they just want to cut us up. And love will conquer all this. So if they’re going to lock up a Muslim, they’re going to lock up us.

“Orange Is the New Black” is on a winning streak. What does that reflect in your personal life the success of the show?

Selenis Leyva: I think that we’re also honored to just be working with each other, to be telling real stories, diverse stories, stories that reflect our world. We’re just really blessed. And I think that it just the audience really accepts it because they can relate to it, you know what I mean? And that’s really important especially during these times. Art is going to be very important during the next four years. We’re just so blessed. Thank you.

You all bring a good vibe to this event. What is it about your show that brings such goodness here?

Jessica Pimentel: We’re all drunk!

Danielle Brooks: No, we’re not.

Dale Soules: We’re all family, and it all starts with [“Orange Is the New Black” executive producer/creator] Jenji Kohan setting the bar for all of us to be ego-free. We work together as a family, and we really love each other.

Elizabeth Rodriguez: We love and respect each other and are really thrilled to be here.

Dascha Polanco: It’s also the true representation of what the world is. I know diversity is a trend now, but this is what it really is and the stories that are being told that we’ve been working on have connected not only in America but throughout the world so this is what is. This is what the world is, and we’re very proud to be here to represent all of us.

Brooks: And I also want to say we’re very grateful for this moment.