There’s a great scene in Robert Altman’s The Player in which Tim Robbins’ slithery movie producer stops a writer who’s in the middle of pitching a script idea. The poor scribe, it seems, made the mistake of implying that his proposed film would feature a TV star in the main role. This notion makes Robbins scrunch his brow in puzzlement, thereby forcing the writer to backtrack and explain that the producer must have misheard him—his project would not cast a TV star, but rather have a movie star playing a TV star. This clarification greatly pleases Robbins.
That exchange elucidates the scant regard that Hollywood gives to stars of the small screen. Yet every once in a while, the industry tries to take a hot TV commodity and turn him or her into a bona fide cinematic artist. More often than not, the results are disastrous—a sad fact made abundantly clear in this week’s Bad Movie Friday entrant, the atrocious 1987 Scott Valentine vehicle My Demon Lover.
For those too young to remember the Reagan Years, Valentine was a late addition to the cast of Family Ties, playing Justine Bateman’s roughneck-cum-bohemian boyfriend. NBC tried to spin off his character, Nick, in a sitcom of its own, but that idea never got past the pilot stage. Still, Hollywood thought that Valentine’s Stallone-like good looks made him worth a gamble, and thus cast him in My Demon Lover as “a homeless street musician becomes a demon when sexually aroused.” Nothing good came of this decision, as explained here:
The best that can be said for ”My Demon Lover” is that the film makers have worked overtime shuffling characters, locations and wrinkled latex masks with horns. Mr. Valentine, who appears in the masks, plays a supposedly charming vagrant who has been mysteriously cursed and appears to borrow almost all of his screechy, importunate mannerisms from the comedian Bobcat Goldthwait, who handles them a lot better. At other times Mr. Valentine merely widens his eyes and pretends, none too convincingly, to be adorable.
[No one] pays heed to the larger implications of [Valentine]’s condition or worries unduly when he turns into a large, motherly woman whose head is full of yellow goo. The settings range from Greenwich Village, where the spunky Denny has her cluttered career-girl apartment, to Central Park, where the action moves to a huge, ominous hilltop castle. By the time the castle appears, it seems no less irritating or misplaced than anything else.
Valentine’s career took a nosedive from there, especially after the cancellation of Family Ties. Still, I’m sure he’s earned an extremely comfortable living in years hence, playing supporting roles in such C-grade fare as Black Scorpion. Unlike Microkhan, then, Valentine probably doesn’t stand around the supermarket wondering whether he should splurge on the can of beans that costs 30 cents more. So I guess he wins.