He may have been convicted of raping and murdering six young women, but to a smitten teenage girl who's initiated a relationship-by-mail, he's just a cute guy who couldn't possibly be guilty. Did he...or didn't he?
In FATAL CHARM, Adam Brenner is a man that is suspected of and being tried for six counts of murder - all of them sex crimes against women. However the strikingly handsome Brenner swears that he is innocent of the crimes that he's being accused, instead blaming it on his roommate. While the prosecution doesn't believe of Adam's innocence, it seems as though Brenner has a female fans that do. The women are simple taken by the mans appearance and overall innocence, but is he truly innocent? A young woman named Valerie seems more than convinced. Valerie, a teenage High School student, becomes obsessed with the man, and the subject of his innocence. Smitten by Brennen, Valerie begins to secretly write letters to the man. TO her surprise, a short time later, she receives a reply, and the two begin to develop a pen pal relationship. More letters followed, including the sending of picture by Valerie. Meanwhile Adam, which is eventually sentenced to Death Row is struggling to make it among the prison population. Eventually, along with 2 other inmates, Adam makes an escape, and predictably goes on a search for Valerie, one that would later threaten, not only her life, but the lives of those around her, when Brenner finally sheds his "good guy" image.
From 1991, FATAL CHARM is a suspense thriller drama from Texas Director, Fritz Kiersch. It is also a film, that for whatever reason, Kiersch removed his name from, opting for the legendary psuedenym, Alan Smithee. "Alan Smitee" and other variations on the name are designated aliases for use by Directors that are ashamed of a project, when they desire not to attribute it to their established name. So for whatever reason it may be, seeing this name in the film's opening hints that Fritz Kiersch wasn't too happy with what we are about to see. Believe it or not, by coincidence, I happened to see FATAL CHARM about 2 months before I saw it on this occasion, I was on an Amanda Peterson kick and was hunting down every possible film she starred when I came across, this the unheard of straight-to-home video effort. So upon my intial viewing of FATAL CHARM, seeing this infamous alias, initially had me expecting the very worse.
Honestly speaking, on the surface, FATAL CHARM is a film of the simplest form, akin to those films that regularly air on the LIFETIME NETWORK on a daily basis, and yes, its overall content is purely "Chick Flick" fodder. It is a film that hinges itself on the fantasy aspect of the true life stories that we hear of women, falling in love with convicts(ie. writing of letters, and even marriage behind bars). It's appy, sure, but you know what, I kind of liked it. I'm not ashamed to admit that I often find myself watching these films. Whether they are labeled "Chick Flicks" or ehat have you, I am guilty of enjoying a few on occasion. As for this one, I found myself enjoying it, because it closely resembled the case of Ted Bundy. Bundy himself was a big flirt, and many a woman swooned over him for whatever reason. In FATAL CHARM, the character of Adam Brenner has pretty much taken on all of TED Bundy's traits; he's flirtatious, manipulative, and most dangerous of all, he appears to be harmless. The film itself is the typical setup, in terms of what a TV movie is. For most of the film, Brennen is portrayed as an innocent man, and you better believe that he goes out of his way to prove to the audience that he is. At one point it is clear that the film is trying its best to confuse us in regards to Adam Brenner's guilt or innocence, so that in it's last act, we as an audience would be surprised when it is revealed that he is a maniac. But the truth is that FATAL CHARM is pretty much to be predicted from the very start. Any advid film viewer will know just how it will end up, so there is really no surprise there. But as a whole, FATAL CHARM is still very will an enjoyable, but little known early '90s effort. It is simple one of those films that you go into not expecting much from, only to stay for the whole thing. For me, it was enjoyable and fun, if only for its B-movie quality, and if you are a fan, for Amanda Peterson as well.
The acting here, is what it is, to sum it up. No one in the film stands out as being spectacular, but then again, this isn't a film that requires such performances. As I mentioned, FATAL CHARM is basically of B-Movie quality. Amanda Peterson is good as a starry eyed teen, who doesn't know any better, as she falls for a convict's infectious charm. As I said above, I am a fan of Peterson, whom is most known for her role in 1986's CAN"T BUY ME LOVE. FATAL CHARM happens to be one of the last films that she made before unexpectedly stepping away from the spotlight and her acting career. Not much is known about her or her whereabouts today, but there have been serious rumors about her over the years(ones that I will not state here, as they're everywhere on the net already. I can only hope that Miss Peterson is doing well. Christopher Adkins is good as the charming serial killer type, and plays well off of Peterson, even if his performance is a bit hammy and over-the top. Also starring are the likes of PUMPKINHEAD II : BLOOD WING's Andrew Robinson as the town Sheriff, and FRIDAY THE 13TH PART VII : THE NEW BLOOD'S, Lar Park Lincoln, as Valerie's best friend, "Sandy". Both Amanda Peterson and Lar Park Lincoln are very beautiful women., so there are indeed pluses for us guys!
Although FATAL CHARM is a rather tame suspense thriller, one you would be likely to find on your TV at night, it is a film that can be enjoyable if you let it. It's cheesy, predictable, and even cliche, but perhaps those are reasons which to like it. I pretty much did.
IMPRESSION OF THE FILM
I liked this film. While not great, it is still an entertaining story that is basically real life, mixed with fiction, with a little added exaggeration thrown in for added measure. I would imagine that FATAL CHARM would be met with a mixed reaction, some will like it for what it is, while others will have no interest at all in it. All that I can advise is to see this one yourself to form your own opinion about it. But as for my opinion, it's not a bad little thriller.
Like all of the films in the MGM Limited Edition Collection, This release of FATAL CHARM, is made from the best source available. In my opinion, the picture quality of this release is very good, it's in anamorphic widescreen, which looks far better than the full screen sources that had previously been available.
FATAL CHARM, as well as many other films in the MGM Limited Edition Collection are available at Amazon.com.