Hot schlock: A love triangle in the sultry summer South, with Growing Pains’ Joanna Kerns as a languid hotel owner trying to keep her 17-year-old daughter (Bull Durham’s Jenny Robertson) from pawing the new night manager (New York stage new night manager (New York stage actor Ted Marcoux). He’s the ”nightman” of the title, a mumbling slab of beef, and Kerns’ character — a single mom given to purring ”I’m a woman who needs a man” — wants him all to herself. After the nightman beds both women, tempers flare, the Georgia sun raises a sweat on everyone, and-kaboom! — a pistol goes off: Mama’s dead. Nightman is arrested, but did he kill her?
The Nightman, written by John Wells, Lucille Fletcher, and James Poe and directed by former Hill Street Blues actor Charles Haid, is told in flashback scenes: The steamy story is recalled by the daughter, now grown up to be a morose doctor and convinced that the former night manager — out on parole after being convicted of murder — is stalking her. Haid, who did such lean, tough work directing the most recent In the Line of Duty TV movie, gets all arty and pretentious here. It’s easy to see why Kerns took the part-her cat in heat is a big departure from her Growing Pains role, and she’s playfully good at it. But Robertson never seems believable as a teenager, and Marcoux seems far too good an actor to believe this overcooked tripe. D+