Exploitive trash doesn’t get any better than Deadly Intentions…Again?, a TV movie about a doctor (L.A. Law’s Harry Hamlin) and the fear he inspires in his second wife, Sally (Growing Pains’ Joanna Kerns), and their two daughters. It’s an inspiredly perverse, fictionalized sequel to the 1985 miniseries Deadly Intentions, which changed the names and locations of a somewhat similar real-life case. In that movie, actor Michael Biehn played Dr. Charles Raynor and showed him plotting to kill his first wife and succeeding in doing away with the family dog.
Deadly Intentions…Again? is a postmodern TV movie, probably the first one in which television itself plays a role in the villian’s psychosis. Released from jail six and a half years after the events described in the first movie, this Raynor, embodied by Hamlin, goes home to live with Sally. We’re supposed to think he’s pushed over the edge once again by seeing a rerun of Deadly Intentions. Watching Biehn enact his own violence, Hamlin’s Raynor admits his crimes to Sally while he sits on the living-room sofa, a malevolent couch potato, sharpening a knife to slit Sally’s throat.
There are times when Deadly Intentions…Again? seems as ludicrous as your average horror movie: Why doesn’t Sally get suspicious the day Raynor comes back from jail and announces, “No one picks up the mail before me”? (He’s ordering how-to books on assassination and planning to kill the judge and jury that put him away.) Why doesn’t she call the police when her chilly hubby starts lugging a trunk swaddled in heavy chains and padlocks in and out of the trunk of his car? (It contains all his naughty books and weapons, and he never goes anywhere without it.)
But Deadly Intentions…Again? proceeds with such relentlessness that all common sense is swept aside. It also helps greatly that this doctor is so believably psycho. With his small eyes and thick voice, Harry Hamlin has always seemed like a big lummox of a sex symbol on L.A. Law; here, however, he uses his beefy intractability to embody a cold, soul-dead killer — and he does it with complete, casual conviction. Watching this TV movie, you’ll know you’re being manipulated, but you’ll love every minute of it.