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Usa World Premiere Movie the Substitute

An angered teacher on a murderous rampage is the subject of "The Substitute." Trying for atmosphere rather than shocks results in a flaccid fable with performances (star Amanda Donohoe's the only one playing it, rightly, for laughs) and tech credits on level with Cynthia Verlaine's script: Give it a C-minus.

An angered teacher on a murderous rampage is the subject of “The Substitute.” Trying for atmosphere rather than shocks results in a flaccid fable with performances (star Amanda Donohoe’s the only one playing it, rightly, for laughs) and tech credits on level with Cynthia Verlaine’s script: Give it a C-minus.

Donohoe, who should exercise more care in choosing her vehicles, stars as Gail Richards. A perfect pedagogue back home, she goes bonkers upon catching her hubby (Martin Martinuzzi) in the sack with one of her students.

“You made me look ridiculous!” Richards shouts before dousing them both with alcohol, setting them and her house on fire, dying her hair black and moving to a small town in Minnesota.

Assuming a new name, she’s accepted for employment as a substitute teacher while kindly old Jeanette Fisher (Sheila Paterson) recovers from open-heart surgery. But, though most of her students adore her, Richards (now “Laura Ellington”) just can’t start over.

She seduces a student (Dalton James), takes up with his father (Eugene Glazer), and assures herself a permanent spot in kindly old Mrs. Fisher’s classroom by frightening the old bat to death by baking her pet kitty.

Story has more holes than a golf course, starting with how “Ellington” was able to get a job without credentials or references.

Rapper/underwear model Marky Mark appears as Ryan Westerberg, a problem student with an unexplained Boston accent who’s quick to spot Miss Ellington as a “psycho,” and acquits himself well enough.

Pic, under director Martin Donovan, goes on, with more carnage (all offscreen or in shadows so deep you aren’t exactly sure what’s going on), leading to an ending — a twist on the old hand-from-the-grave — that hints that a sequel is possible.

Usa World Premiere Movie the Substitute

(Wed. (22), 9-11 p.m., USA)

  • Production: Filmed in Vancouver, B.C., by Pacific Motion Pictures in association with Wilshire Court Prods. Exec producer, David Kirkpatrick; producer, Matthew O'Connor; director, Martin Donovan; script, Cynthia Verlaine.
  • Crew: Camera, Glen MacPherson; editor, Louise Innes; production designer, Stephen Greenberg; art director, Clyde Klotz; sound, Ralph Parker; music, Gerald Gouriet.
  • Cast: Cast: Amanda Donohoe, Marky Mark, Natasha Gregson Wagner, Dalton James, Eugene Glazer, Brigitta Dau, Shelly Owens, David Frankham, Christian Svensson, Cusse Mankuma, Molly Parker, Martin Cummins, Lossen Chambers, D. Neil Mark, Patrica Gage, Martin Martinuzzi, Justine Priestly, Fran Gebhard, Pat Bermel, Gary Jones, Meredith Woodward, Sheila Paterson, Deryl Hayes, Andrew Wheeler, Bobby Stewart, Douglas Newell, Katherine Banwell, Glen Mauro, Gary Mauro.