On Thursday June 2nd my copy of “Heart of the Beholder” arrived. I promptly opened the envelope and stared at the box.

Then I left it on a side table in the kitchen for a week or so.

Later I moved the still-shrink-wrapped movie to my steps. Where it remained until this morning, June 15th. The day before I had decided that this would be the day I would watch the movie. I even prepared for it. I picked myself up a pint of Haagen Dazs Light Coffee ice cream. Y’know, to commiserate with should the movie just make me want to phone up Mike Nelson and his robot friends (of Mystery Science Theater fame). Or if it just disturbed me so greatly hiding in my room eating ice cream by the pint seemed the only way to go on. In case you can’t tell, I was really, really nervous about this film. Somehow I got it in my head that it could make or break this fannish streak I’ve struggled to maintain since TBAA left the air. Which in turn would mean JABB either continuing on or not. Which would mean ending something that’s been a part of my life for 7 years. Which would mean there could be John Dye and TBAA fans I would just never meet… It’s not that I thought the movie would make me hate John or anything. That would be mean. I guess I just thought it might make me “nothing him”. So that was my mindset this morning when I went upstairs to my room to watch. Right before I did my Mom even said “Well if you’ll just wait til tonight I’ll watch it with you.”

Thanks but no thanks, Mom. 

So I get upstairs and go to pop it in my DVD player. Except the DVD player started playing something else. Turns out I’d never taken out the TBAA 2nd season DVD I’d been watching over a week ago. Naturally I hit stop. Repeatedly. The player would not stop!! It just kept playing the TBAA DVD! I began to panic. This had never happened before. May be it was a sign… But I was determined. So I hit eject and finally the TBAA DVD stopped and ejected. So I popped in HOTB and sat down on my bed. Ready for… whatever.

See my friends and I have this habit of applauding during the opening credits of movies when we see the names of actors we like. So, even though I was alone, I determined I would do that when John’s name came up. First five names go by… no John Dye. Another 5 or so… Lists of people! An “and introducing”… No John Dye! How could this be?! For a few seconds the picturesque aerial photography of St. Louis was completely lost on me as I tried to figure out whether I’d just missed John’s name or if his part really was so small he didn’t even make opening credits! Then… there it was:

"And John Dye"

Whew. Big sigh of relief! So then I settled into the movie.

It was pretty darn engaging from the start. I laughed during the scene where Mike and Diane (the main couple played by Matt Letscher and Sarah Brown) are talking about “Dallas”. I vaguely remember the “I shot J.R.” t-shirts and that whole craze. So it was a fun trip down memory lane and I thought the movie did a great job of getting you interested and pulling for this couple from the get-go.

Shortly there after we meet district attorney Mr. Eric Manion. That creepy dude walked on screen and suddenly… There was no John Dye. There was no Andrew. Despite my appreciation for the first and, as if it’s a surprise, seemingly undying adoration of the second, I could have gleefully pushed this latest of John’s characters right of that lil stage. When he thanked that well meaning lil boy for the crime victims’ fund donation and posed with his great cheesy mug of a smile and I knew (thanks to the trailer) what Manion was gonna use that money for… I scrawled HYPOCRITE in big angry letters on the piece of paper I was taking notes on. See, Manion was accepting this man of a year award and when a reporter, who lost a friend to one of the DA’s crusades, spoke up Manion answered back with “This is my show here!” And is met with the sort of applause and laughs that ya’ll might recognize from those lame jokes your boss tells in meetings. The ham factor increases when our villain says something to the effect of “It takes a man to take on the crime in this city and I am that man.” Cue the shouts of “You’re the man!” Gag me. It was deliciously creepy.

On the honest-to-goodness creepy front we’re then treated to an eerie scene of a guy burning down a women’s clinic. That was just plain scary to behold.

About fifteen minutes in we get our next Manion scene. In a brothel. Shadily discussing “business” with a madam, Miss Olivia. Here’s where I commenced drinking. LOL Thankfully all I had with me was a bottle of Tangerine-Blueberry bottled water. Hence, this review is actually coherent. I'll admit, I started shaking. It was all just very disturbingly… calm.

One of the things that surprised me about this movie were that some parts were genuinely funny. Any discomfit I felt after that previous Manion scene completely dissipated as I watched the Chuck Barry scene. All on it’s own it played out like some of those “Don’t judge people by their looks” urban legends that get passed about. Adding in the humor just really helped to make the characters real, flesh and blood humans. In fact, there was a good chunk of the movie where I got so invested in what would happen to these people that, unless he was on screen, I completely forgot I was only watching this because of John Dye being in it. Suffice to say, this is only one of two John Dye movies that I can honestly say I would watch even if he weren’t in the cast. I thought it was well-acted and well-shot. There’s a lot I could say about it but since JABB is devoted to John Dye, from here on out I’m going to focus on his work in the movie. Else this review would be pages and pages long.

I kind of wish I hadn’t watched all the clips available on www.beholder.com. I think the scene where Marci, a former prostitute, first comes to a meeting of the Citizens for Decency suffered some since I’d seen it before out of context. The scene where she recognizes Manion as her former client might have had more impact then. But as it was, it was a powerful scene. I had to chuckle that during most of the scene prior to Manion’s appearance, the painting of Jesus faces towards the podium where the speakers are. However, by the time Manion gets up to the podium to speak, the painting has somehow switched and Jesus now faces away from Manion. In an email the producer sent months back, she said it was not planned and they’re not sure how it happened. All I’m saying is that it certainly made for an interesting element!

Our next big Manion scene comes along when Mike, having lost his business and nearly his family to Manion’s legal pursuit of him, finds out about Manion’s visits to the brothel. Mike, the aforementioned reporter, and a cameraman stake out the brothel intending to catch Manion in the act with the help of their police buddy and an undercover cop. The idea was to have the cop pose as a prostitute, Manion would offer her money, they’d have it on video and… Manion would be doing the cell block tango. However, there’s a series of mishaps and the undercover cop shows up late so Mike’s wife Diane decides she’ll pose as the prostitute. As for me, that was my cue to get out the Haagen Dazs. Lemme just say… nothing goes better with vicarious movie revenge like coffee ice cream. Delicious. Of course, I about lost my stomach when Manion did something that freaks the bloody heck outta me every time I see it in movies. Ya can all just guess on that. If I had any inkling of loyalty to him because of what (or who) he physically looked like, it evaporated right then. What a creep. I heartily cheered when he stepped out of that room and found… a camera and got cuffed in a citizen’s arrest. Fantastic.

So to conclude: I have a whole new respect for John Dye as an actor. And, despite my reservations, I feel I could easily watch TBAA right now. Manion was such an incredible jerk that, like I said, John, Andrew and anyone else John Dye ever played was gone from my mind while I watched that. In a way, it’s kinda cool having one John Dye character epitomize all that I hold dear and another all that I detest and fear. Although, there is a twinge of discomfort in knowing that the real Manion is somewhere out there. But if you want to hear me go on about that you can visit Option 2- Andrew and JenniAnn Talk About HOTB.

I would recommend this movie. Not just cause it’s shows off a side of John’s acting abilities you have probly never seen but also because I just genuinely appreciated this film. It definitely gives a person some things to think about. I think I may even watch it with my Mom now so I have someone I can talk to about it. If I had to sum up in one word how I felt after watching HOTB it would be grateful. It really made me appreciate that I don’t know anyone like Eric Manion… ;-)

God bless,

PS If you've seen the movie and would like to write up a review for JABB, please lemme know.  Heck, if you wanna write a review for any John Dye movie or TV show, I'd love to see it and share it with the rest of this newsletter group!

The "I Survived 'HOTB'" Happy Dance!


Newsletter 167

(Photo Credits: The photograph used on this page is from "Heart of the Beholder" and owned by River City Entertainment and Catchlight Films.  It is not being used to seek profit.)