Straight-to-DVD: Marsha Brady & the Snow White Slasher Flick
For reasons unknown, 2012 is the year that the cumulative efforts of so many Hollywood lunches and industry cocktail parties have resulted in the release of several live action retellings of "Snow White and the Seven Dwarves." Currently, there's the light-hearted "Mirror, Mirror" with Julia Roberts as the wicked queen with Charlize Theron taking up the role in the decidedly more gothic "Snow White and the Huntsman" coming out in June. Never one to pass up the opportunity to snooker hapless redbox patrons into renting zero-budget dreck, Lionsgate has released "Snow White: A Deadly Summer," the teen slasher version of the fairy tale where dysfunctional teens stand in for the seven dwarves and get killed one-by-one instead of singing "Heigh-Ho."
Okay, so there's no A-list wicked queen in the straight-to-DVD "Show White," but we do get Maureen McCormick—yes, the original Marsha Brady from the 1970s "Brady Bunch"—talking to herself in the bathroom mirror of her sparsely furnished McMansion and plotting against Snow (Shanley Caswell), her rebellious stepdaughter. Now the amount of time McCormick spends by the bathroom sink becomes especially funny when you consider that she also spent a lot of time brushing her hair in a suburban john during five seasons of "The Brady Bunch." It's almost as if after reading the script, the casting director said, "This wicked stepmom spends a lot of time looking at herself in the mirror in the can. I know, get me Maureen McCormick!"
"…And if you can't get her, see if Eve Plumb is still taking roles these days."
Yes, it'll always be Marsha, Marsha, Marsha!
And if Marsha Brady turning evil isn't enough, we also get Julia Roberts' brother Eric as the milquetoast stepdad who wears suits that look at least one size two big for him as he lets his new wife railroad his only daughter. The last time that Julia and Eric went head-to-head like this, "The Expendables" (also a Lionsgate release) completely destroyed "Eat Pray Love" at the box office, so there's got to be a tense sibling rivalry going on here. Fortunately for Julia's leading lady ego, the cards are more stacked in her favor this time around.
After Snow is busted while driving around with some bad kids, evil stepmom McCormick convinces spineless Roberts to have the kid packed off to Camp Allegiance, which looks suspiciously like a public vacation site somewhere in British Columbia. The camp is run by Colonel Hunter (Tim Abell) from a command center that resembles your grandparents' 1980s kitchen remodel. In order to instill respect for authority in Snow and her seven troubled teens, Hunter paces around with a swagger stick, lecturing them on his "12 years as a Navy Seal," and dispensing clichés such as, "This is my world." He also makes the kids sleep in the dirt and rake at leaves—they don't actually rake the leaves, they just rake at them.
Of course, there's the prerequisite legend going around the camp that one of the campers went nuts 20 years earlier and killed a bunch of people. The current teens start turning up dead after they steal away to make out in a kind of lightweight "Friday the 13th" fashion, only with very little gore. Hunter attempts a really dumb cover-up plot consisting of leaving corpses out in the open on lawn furniture and then acting shocked when people find them. Without giving too much away, there are some really great Maureen McCormick psycho moments by the end of this thing that are almost enough to make "Snow White: A Deadly Summer" into a camp classic if only there were more of them. Yes, this movie needs more Marsha, Marsha Marsha!
Bob Calhoun is the author of the bestselling punk-wrestling memoir, "Beer, Blood and Cornmeal: Seven Years of Incredibly Strange Wrestling" (2008, ECW Press). You can follow him on Twitter at @bob_calhoun