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This Review Reveals Minor Details About the Plot.

You Put a Spell On Me.

Nightshade on IMDb

Plot Overview

gardenerThe opening scene is of a little girl Lucy Bell at age 6 (Josie M. Parker) having cute, shoulder-length blond hair, traipsing out of her country house and bursting into tears at the sight of her father Randy Bell (Jason Patric) with his beard and long, shaggy hair, frantically digging in the yard on which is laid out for burial: a large penta­gram with lit candles, a round box of magic charms, and the body of a pretty woman with cleavage. The dad had evidently been driven to extreme by the witchery of his wife Elizabeth Bell (Eryn Rea,) a “woman owning her own power.” Lucy runs away with her mother's box in defiance of her dad who is “protecting you” as “mommy is not a nice person.” The authorities had a different take on it and gave the guy life, but he's out in thirty when this movie takes place.

tea timeNow grown up and a housewife, Lucy (Kenzie Dalton) with long, flowing blonde hair has married Homicide Detective Ben Hays (Lou Ferrigno Jr.) in hopes of being part of his team to put away the bad guys (“There's a lot of sick people.”) A nature show on TV shows a cutaway of a wasp nest with a narration about the queen doing all in her power to protect the baby wasps. There's a photo on Ben's work desk of Lucy showing her hair profession­ally styled with a pseudo-beehive hairdo in the back. She wants to do what­ever's in her power to help him cut through stifling bureaucracy to nail “sick people who deserve to die.” She brews Ben's special tea in the morning, puts drops of black night­shade in his ear while he sleeps, and blows a powder in his face when he confronts her.

applying makeupBen has a body Lucy adores. He's also got a real man's haircut: nicely styled on top, short on the sides. Ben's psychiatric counselor Dr. Amy Collins (Dina Meyer) has a woman's styled hair plastered on top with little tresses on the sides; it would even look smart if she but took a moment to examine her­self in the mirror before her sessions. She's helping Ben with his sleep problems by using hypno­therapy on him. Ben sleep­walks and is in sort of a fugue much of the time. His Captain Burns (Tim Russ) wants results and keeps his Negroid kinky hair cut short. Ben's partner Detective Beckett (B.J. Britt) wants Ben to share more with him, and his hair is shaved from off his black head. Officer Camello (James Duval) keeps his suspicious eye on Ben and sports a sensibly short, cop's hair­cut. Dawn (Jaime Gallagher) owner of an occult bookstore Ben visits has styled, long hair pushed securely back. Her customer Jade (Madison Russ) has long, dark hair hanging down in ringlets. And a late night jogger interrupting another burial has a long, broad pony­tail reaching past her shoulder blades.


happy hugHairstyles should be appreciated in their settings of time & place. After the intro the movie recogniz­ably occurs in L.A., and we can suss out the approx­imate date. Lucy thinks she can just guess Ben's computer pass­word, so we figure the guy for simplicity. They'd moved into house number 1100, and Lucy's to-do hit list for him is a nice round 100 long. Hypnotized Ben reveals his favorite animal is the cow and his color blue. Blue rhymes with moo whose first letter is ‘M’ the Roman numeral for 1000. The sessions start with the hypno­thera­pist counting down from 20, so maybe the movie occurs shortly after the change into the 2000 mil­len­nium, which also involved a count­down. Subtract 30 years for the jail time and a little more for the trial, and the opening scene is in the late 60's when long hair on men was in vogue and women were dressed to reveal. The 60's saw a resurgence of pop occult, and the arrival of a new millennium presaged the age of Aquarius or what­ever. Randy kept his hair shorter once he was out of prison. So we're going to give it to him that he—and all the men in the movie—had hair length within the norms of his times.

(1Cor. 11:14-15) “Doth not even nature itself teach you, that, if a man have long hair, it is a shame unto him? But if a woman have long hair, it is a glory to her: for her hair is given her for a covering.” The female counselor kept her hair platted down on top but strands would stick out all over the place. It looked like the hair of a woman accustomed to wearing it down and didn't know that up required main­ten­ance. The store owner, how­ever, managed her swept-back look just fine. If I were asked permission from a woman with freaky hair to put me under, I think I'd demur. Some­thing was up with that shrink.

(1Cor. 11:7) “For a man indeed ought not to cover his head, forasmuch as he is the image and glory of God: but the woman is the glory of the man.” God breathed into Adam the breath of life (Gen. 2:7), whom he made from the dust of the earth. We don't want a head-covering symbolic­ally inter­fering with the breathing into, nor perhaps a barrier between him and the ground whence he'd come. In this movie the sleep­walker was wearing inappropriate socks in the shower. The woman had a different origin, (Gen. 2:23) from the man's side.

(1Cor. 11:8-9) “For the man is not of the woman: but the woman of the man. Neither was the man created for the woman; but the woman for the man.” In this movie the shrink repeatedly stresses that the woman is frail, she is emotional. The more rational man is put in charge, with the woman as a helper not a partner in the sense of having her own “power” (authority) apart from the man's. This particular man works within a (frustrating) bureaucracy that would rather see 100 guilty go free than one innocent person convicted. Lucy is the emotional one who balks at all those really bad people getting off and has created her magic hit list of 100 to be eliminated. The innocent policeman in the trunk is brushed off as collateral damage.

(1Cor. 11:10) “For this cause ought the woman to have power on her head because of the angels.” The angelic realm is one of magic. In this movie the counselor suggests Ben might have fallen prey to “the incubus phenomenon.” A medieval painting in a book he reads shows him a skeletal incubus with a bounty of hair leaning down over the bed of an unsus­pecting sleeper. Its evil energy is transferred through its hair. A woman's hair covering, according to custom of time & place, blocks that trans­fer, just as we didn't want to (symbolically) block the trans­fer of the breath of life from God to man.

Production Values

“Nightshade” (2022) was directed by Landon Williams. It was written by Sarah Smith-Williams and Landon Williams. It stars Kenzie Dalton, Dina Meyer, Jason Patric, Lou Ferrigno Jr. and James Duval. Their roles were piddling acting challenges of: mundane police work, so-so marriage, happy-face shrink, and sleepy-bye scenes. Average actors do just as well as the seasoned kind here. No big deal but no oscars, either. Note­worthy, though, is the way they handled the jerking around of magical inter­vention; I've seen worse.

spudeggplantThe title Nightshade is derived from a family of plants comprised of herbs, shrubs, fruits, flowers and poisonous weeds, some used as medicine or for magic potions, ornamentals or crops. The latter include eggplant and potatoes. This movie is enough to give couch potato a whole new meaning.

“Nightshade” is not rated, but its swear words are few and far between, topless shower scenes are exclusively of a male body, the (married) couple in bed is covered or clothed, and it's the five-bladed ceiling fan that blithely spins with the twisted tale to the ominous music of Benjamin Burney. It has a runtime of 1 hour 30 minutes but it seemed longer for the gaps in sequences. A lot of police tape is used but not much evidence gathered. Where's the fun in that? I found my copy of the DVD on RedBox.

Review Conclusion w/a Christian's Recommendation

discipleshipI awoke one night to fumble with the radio and tune in a talk show featuring a knowledge­able anthro­pologist who told of a story common to cultures world­wide. Women had seized control of men through magic with the fear of death, so the men killed all the females over the age of puberty. That's consistent with this story of Lucy who played with her mom's magic but then went on to other toys at age six when her mom was gone. Only raging hormones in her third trimester of pregnancy and her overly solicitous husband after she lost her baby got her started again with magic power. Modern remedies weren't up to taming it, half-way measures don't work so well in this movie whose thematic material is tough for an adult, never mind a child.

Movie Ratings

Action Factor: Weak action scenes. Suitability for children: Not rated. Special effects: Well done special effects. Video Occasion: Better than watching TV. Suspense: Keeps you on the edge of your seat. Overall movie rating: Three stars out of five.