You would think that past-life regression would open up fresh angles for a murder mystery, but routine execution undermines “Dying to Remember,” a wooden movie with a smart title.
Melissa Gilbert, more waxen than animated, barely registers a blip on the facial expression scale, although she has been handed a pip of a character to unravel — a fashion designer seeking the identity of the murderer who cut her life short in a past life.
The writers (Brian L. Ross and exec producers Frank Cardera and George Schenck) milk the past-life hook for numerous plot twists, particularly the fact that the Gilbert character keeps visualizing her actual murder 30 years earlier, accompanied by repeated replays of her corpus delicti hurtling down a bottomless elevator shaft.
Plot’s other key element is that the heroine’s two lives are spaced a mere 30 years apart, which permits the central male character (Ted Shackelford) to play a crucial role in both past/present realms.
But director Arthur Allan Seidelman exhibits little stylistic flair and fails to set any fires under the principals, including two cops central to the case (Scott Plank and Christopher Stone).
Sparks fly only when you hit the bottom of the cast list. The actress playing Gilbert’s younger counterpart (Kat Green) is a striking lookalike, so much so you’d swear it’s Gilbert in uncanny makeup.
But you know the production is flat when, by the end, its only vital and realistic characters have been bit actors playing two cabbies (New York dude Peter Williams and San Francisco blue-collar bloke Alvin Sanders).