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A Kiss So Deadly

Promising psycho-suspenser about a prominent, married businessman becoming obsessed with one of his daughter's roommates degenerates into a potboiler laced with overdone sex, murder, unexplained motives and a killer ending that might have saved the meller.

With:
Cast: Charles Shaughnessy, Dedee Pfeiffer, Tom Breznahan, Noelle Parker, Kerrie Keane, Charlotte Ross, Scott Simpson, Jeffrey Pillars, Robert Catrini, Paul Sincoff, Tim Gardner, Nina Repeta, Jeff Hochendoner, William G. Lee, Steve Posner, Michael Genevie, Hank Troscianiec, Brian Gamble, Julian Vicente, Barry Bell.

Promising psycho-suspenser about a prominent, married businessman becoming obsessed with one of his daughter’s roommates degenerates into a potboiler laced with overdone sex, murder, unexplained motives and a killer ending that might have saved the meller. It’s the kind of vidpic that could give TV movies a bad name.

Middle-aged Tom Deese (Charles Shaughnessy), not feeling middle-aged, starts immediately calling on teenage daughter Katherine (Dedee Pfeiffer) in her new condo she shares with quiet June (Noelle Parker) and flirtatious, fair-haired Amanda (Charlotte Ross). One glance at Amanda and he’s panting, and a chance meeting with her at a bar just about does him in. Amanda, going along for a quickie, wants to end it there. But rutting Tom, who does everything but paw the turf, wants no such thing. Of course daughter Katherine must know nothing, so it gets messy (and the plot even more contrived) as he lunges at his daughter’s roommate. Amanda doesn’t want to be bothered. Writer Neva Schreiner adds another factor by tossing in a stalker (Scott Simpson), who supposedly spookily tracks the girls and photographs them. During this curious creature’s wanderings, he tumbles onto Tom and Amanda. He takes snaps.

Tom’s distressed that wife Addy (Kerrie Keane) accuses him of having an affair, and Katherine begins to narrow her eyes. (Pfeiffer’s good at that.) Tom’s nuts enough about Amanda to resent her beau, but his real energies he all but foams at the mouth are directed at that frisky blonde. Foolish Amanda , supposedly worried about that stalker, ridiculously shakes a chaperone to walk alone to her unlocked car late at night. Those fine shots by lenser Karl Herrmann suggesting her being pummeled, then murdered, obscure the killer, though there are disquieting glimpses of the frantic Amanda.

Little touches about a necklace, a pen, a matchcover, a woman left alone too much and a man who needs restraints add up to hints to the identity of the true murderer. But the script pokes around too long, and any suspense is dissipated. By the time the third roommate starts making a play for dear ol’ dad, it’s ho-hum time.

Keane’s hesitant wife Addy suggests deep, deep seas that go unexplored, but good as she is, the role’s only a prop. If writer Schreiner and director Chuck Bowman had taken a more daring step at the vidpic’s conclusion, “Kiss” could have added up to something at least provocative. They didn’t.

Shaughnessy, depicting the overly preoccupied father gassed on a tank-ful of lust, doesn’t do much convincing. Ross, who appeared with Shaughnessy in “Days of Our Lives,” manages to give flirty, too-wise Amanda an easygoing, even sympathetic, quality. Pfeiffer, stuck with the role of the gradually knowing daughter, has an intelligent face reflecting the girl’s determined nature. Simpson’s stalker turns in the best scene of the production when he rasps into a phone.

Designer Michael Helmy has given the telepic a solid look, and Herrmann’s camera has a brooding quality that helps. Jonathan Braun’s snappy editing gives earlier segs a sense of expectancy, but they aren’t fulfilled, thanks to the absurd script. Tech credits are fine.

A Kiss So Deadly

Mon. (14), 9-11 p.m., NBC

Production: Filmed in Wilmington, N.C., by Morgan Hill Films and Hearst Entertainment. Executive producer, Jennifer Alward; producer-director, Chuck Bowman; co-producer, Monica Parker; writer, Neva Schreiner; story, Parker, Schreiner.

Crew: Camera, Karl Herrmann; editor, Jonathan Braun; sound, Carl Rudisill; music, Joseph Conlan; production designer, Michael Helmy; casting, Abra Edelman, Elisa Goodman (L.A.); Fincannon & Associates Inc. (Wilmington).

Cast: Cast: Charles Shaughnessy, Dedee Pfeiffer, Tom Breznahan, Noelle Parker, Kerrie Keane, Charlotte Ross, Scott Simpson, Jeffrey Pillars, Robert Catrini, Paul Sincoff, Tim Gardner, Nina Repeta, Jeff Hochendoner, William G. Lee, Steve Posner, Michael Genevie, Hank Troscianiec, Brian Gamble, Julian Vicente, Barry Bell.

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