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Case Number 23468: Small Claims Court

Buy Katarina's Nightmare Theater: Whispers at Amazon

Katarina's Nightmare Theater: Whispers

Scorpion Releasing // 1989 // 90 Minutes // Rated R
Reviewed by Judge Roman Martel (Retired) // March 9th, 2012

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All Rise...

Judge Roman Martel is also based on a novel by Dean R. Koontz.

The Charge

Fear Shouts. Terror whispers. Viewers snore.

The Case

In the 1980s, it seemed like Dean R. Koontz and Stephen King were battling to release the most novels. This battle didn't include movie adaptations. While every one of King's early books were being turned into films, Koontz only scored a few adaptations, none of which were very impressive. Did Whispers break that trend? No.

When Bruno Clavel (Jean LeClerc, Blown Away)—a gravel-voiced babbling nut job—viciously attacks author Hilary Thomas (Victoria Tennant, L.A. Story), she turns the tables and kills him instead. Local cop Tony Clemenza (Chris Sarandon, Child's Play) quickly closes this obvious case of self-defense, but then Hilary is attacked again. Convinced that Bruno has come back from the grave to finish the job, she convinces Tony to help research Clavel's background, as a series of macabre murders begin to occur. Is someone (or something) hunting Hilary? Tony wants to believe her, but soon begins to suspect the trauma of killing Bruno may be getting the better of her.

Whispers has all the elements of a compelling and sexy thriller. Unfortunately, the movie never pulls them together. LeClerc is creepy enough as a villain, but Tennant and Sarandon are terribly flat, suffering from underwritten characters. The movie slogs along attempting to establish the premise and build a love story between Hilary and Tony, but director Douglas Jackson (Her Perfect Spouse) can't get anything to click. Since we don't care about these characters, their love story is dull and the thrills are empty. Whispers does get interesting in the final 20 minutes, as the investigation into Clavel's past kicks into gear and Hilary's psychosis unfolds, but by then it's too little too late.

Presented in standard definition 1.33:1 full frame, the transfer is a pan-and-scan version of the original 1.78:1 widescreen, looking like a made-for-TV film from the late '80s. The Dolby 2.0 mono track functions well enough, balancing a sleazy saxophone score with bland dialogue. Since Scorpion Releasing is unleashing Whispers as part of their Katarina's Nightmare Theater series, we get WWE diva Katarina Leigh Waters providing both an intro and epilogue to the movie. Like any classic horror host, this includes a mixture of behind-the-scenes info and corny jokes—you know the schtick. That's it for bonus features, though.

Whispers isn't bad enough to mock, but just dull enough to lose your interest; a forgettable late night thriller. It's a shame, because the core story is interesting and I bet it works well in Koontz' novel.

The Verdict


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Scales of Justice

Judgment: 70

Perp Profile

Studio: Scorpion Releasing
Video Formats:
• Full Frame
Audio Formats:
• Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono (English)
• None
Running Time: 90 Minutes
Release Year: 1989
MPAA Rating: Rated R
• Erotic
• Horror
• Mystery
• Thriller

Distinguishing Marks

• Introduction
• Epilogue


• IMDb

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