An impressive labor of love from independent writer-director Frank LaLoggia, this low-budget supernatural thriller was a sleeper hit in 1988, deservedly praised by critics and horror fans for its effective combination of g... more »hostly terror and small-town charm. The influence of Steven Spielberg can be felt in the movie's imaginative scenario, but it's also got the affectionate appeal of autobiographical nostalgia, mixing details of LaLoggia's own youth in upstate New York with a frightening tale of Halloween horror. It begins when young Frankie (Lukas Haas) is locked in a grade-school cloakroom on Halloween night of 1962; he witnesses the ghostly image of a little girl and is nearly strangled to death by an unknown assailant. From that point forward, Frankie is convinced that the ghost is somehow connected to the Lady in White, a haunting vision of local legend. A black janitor is tried as Frankie's attacker and suspected in a series of unsolved murders, but recurring apparitions lead Frankie to the truth of the case--a revelation of real-life violence and supernatural wonders. This plot may be a bit too cluttered for a conventional ghost story, but the movie's ambition works in its favor by providing an emotional subtext for its youthful sense of wonder. There's an abundance of charm and humor, but this also a moving story of grief and loss, tracing young Frankie's adjustment to the death of his mother. This gives Lady in White more depth than is typical for horror thrillers, and the movie further benefits from the obvious care and compassion that LaLoggia brought to its creation. --Jeff Shannon« less
"When thinking of my favourite Halloween films, this has to be at the top. It works on so many levels. A warm, loving, tale that just demands repeat viewing. Writer/director/musical composer/costar Frank LaLoggia did it his way and it's such a masterpiece. Ite shown as a flashback of Frankie's life, and the ghost he met as a child. When he was 9, he was accidentally locked in the cloakroom at school on Halloween night. There he comes face to face with the ghost of a little girl who was murdered. Later in the night, he is almost killed. The night changes his life.He soon begins seeing the ghost, and later learns it was a little girl Melissa Montgomery who was murder years ago. Since that time more children have died. As he begins to solve the riddle of the murders, accusations falls to the janitor - a black man - a touch very reminiscent of To Kill a Mockingbird. Franklie suspects the accusations against the man were false, that it was someone else, someone very close to him responsible for the murders.It's haunting, atmospheric, but also such a touching family drama, like the running battle Frankie's grandmother has trying to get her husband to stop smoking, and the closeness between Frankie and his brother. Just a touching, brilliant movie that never loses its fascination."
A MUST HAVE for all DVD collectors and movie lovers!
Eric Petersen | USA | 08/18/2000
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Lady In White is a true cinematic masterpiece, and one of the greatest horror films ever made. In this haunting, surreal ghost story, writer/director/musical composer/costar Frank LaLoggia gives us chills, chuckles, and a wonderful sense of nostalgia. Horror novelist Frankie Scarlatti (LaLoggia) returns to his small Upstate NY hometown for a visit, where he remembers the Halloween of 1962 - "the year that *she* came into my life." Ten-year-old Frankie (Lukas Haas) lives a carefree life with his brother, father, and grandparents. On Halloween, Frankie gets locked in his classroom closet by his practical-joking classmates. That night, he sees the ghost of a little girl, Melissa (Joelle Jacobi) and a ghostly recreation of her murder. He also sees, but not clearly, her killer, who has come back looking for evidence he left behind. The psycho strangles Frankie, and he has a near-death experience, where Melissa's troubled spirit pleads for him to help her find her mother. Frankie survives the attack, and determines to help Melissa, having lost his own mother earlier. He learns that several children, in addition to Melissa, have been molested and killed by the same man over a ten-year period. The overzealous DA, anxious to solve the murders, decides to indict an innocent black janitor, but the Grand Jury won't buy it. Frankie discovers a link between Melissa, the town madwoman (Katherine Helmond) and the legendary Lady In White - a ghost who supposedly prowls the cliffside every night. What Frankie doesn't know is that the real killer is hot on his heels. An excellent script, terrific ensemble acting, and great special effects make this a truly magnificent, unforgettable movie. This film will be with you for a long time after you see it! Though rated PG-13, Lady In White is scarier and more disturbing than most R-rated movies. It is NOT for children under 13. The DVD package is a masterpiece unto itself - the video is a GORGEOUS wide-screen transfer, the sound full and downright 3-dimensional. The print is LaLoggia's director's cut and runs 6 minutes longer than the theatrical and videotape versions. Other great extras include the COMPLETE soundtrack, still picture gallery, seven minutes of deleted scenes, theatrical, TV and radio trailers, and a "Behind the Scenes" featurette. A textbook example of what a DVD release should be. BUY IT!"
BRILLIANT---NEEDS TO BE RE-RELEASED
Tim Janson | Michigan | 02/18/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I would LOVE to have this movie on DVD, but it's out of print and now going for a princely sum on the secondary market. This great period piece of early 1960's nostalgia is one of the better ghost stories you will ever see.
It pops up occasionally on TV still. Lukas Haas plays a young boy...perhaps around 4th or 5th grade maybe, who gets locked in his schools cloak room around Halloween. While locked inside he is terrified to see a spectral play acted out before him as a little girl is murdered by an unknown man.
The killer returns to the cloak room to look for something and finds Haas and tries to kill him as well. He's rescued but now he is haunted by the little girl who wants him to find her killer.
He receives messages from her typed out on his typewriter and the record player goes on by itself much to the terror of Haas. Then there is the mysterious Lady in White, living in the old, run down home who seems a ghost herself.
As Frankie (haas) and his older brother try and solve the mystery, somewhere the killer knows who he is and is waiting.
Wonderful piece. Great 1960's midwest nostalgia. Fantastic performances and a genuine feeling of dread make this a great ghost story.
****SEPTEMBER 1, 2005 UPDATE******
Looks like I am finally going to get my wish as this film will be re-released this month. I tried buying one off e-bay...supposedly new...which turned out to be a poorly made bootleg with a cover that came off someone's lousy desk jet printer."
"I really liked your story, Frankie. I wish I was as weird
cookieman108 | Inside the jar... | 11/03/2005
(4 out of 5 stars)
"During the introduction, Frank LaLoggia, the writer and director of the film The Lady in White (1988), states this Columbia Tristar Home Video release marks the 20th anniversary of his film...which left me scratching my head as it seems like he's three years premature, if his film was originally released in 1988...maybe it was the 20th anniversary of when he actually started production of the movie. I guess it doesn't matter one way or the other as I thought this was a damn good picture, especially when compared to his previous, debut project titled Fear No Evil (1981). I don't know what happened in the seven years in between, but I'm glad I decided to give this one a try despite that earlier work. As I mentioned, The Lady in White was written and directed by Frank LaLoggia, and stars Lukas Haas (Solarbabies, Mars Attacks!), Alex Rocco (Detroit 9000, Freebie and the Bean), Len Cariou (About Schmidt), Katherine Helmond ("Soap", Brazil). Also appearing is Jason Presson (Explorers), Renata Vanni (Fatso), Angelo Bertolini (Homer & Eddie), Jared Rushton (Big, Pet Sematary II), Lucy Lee Flippin ("Little House on the Prairie"), and Tom Bower (River's Edge, Die Hard 2), who will soon appear in a remake of Wes Craven's 1977 film The Hills Have Eyes, written and directed by Alexandre Aja (High Tension), scheduled to be released in 2006.
As the story, told primarily in flashback, begins proper, we learn the year is 1962 and it's Halloween in the small, coastal town of Willowpoint Falls, where we meet a young boy named Frankie Scarlatti (Haas), his older brother Geno (Presson), and their father Angelo (Rocco). The boys head off to school, resulting in a series of funny sequences. Frankie's an imaginative boy, presenting one of his stories to the class, which results in, later on, two bullies from his class playing a prank on him by locking him in the cloakroom after everyone else has left...almost everyone. During the night, Frankie witnesses a disturbing vision involving the apparition of a little girl, followed by a very real attack on himself by someone he can't see. When he next awakens, the attacker is gone, his father and the sheriff (Bower) are standing over him, and the drunken, passed out African American janitor gets fingered for the assault, along with a series of brutal, unsolved child murders in the area that have baffled the police going on some ten years (turns out the girl in Frankie's vision was one of the victims). As time passes, Frankie is visited a few times by the little ghost girl, the local legend of The Lady in White is revealed, along with an important clue as to the identity of the real killer, all of whom seem to share some sort of relationship. There's definitely an evil, predatory presence lurking about the town of Willowpoint Falls, and its focus now appears to be on Frankie...
It's difficult to talk about a movie like this because I want to relate much, but don't want to give away too much for someone who has yet to see the film. It seems like it's been so long since I last saw a really good, old fashion ghost story as the one presented here. Was it scary? Perhaps not (to me, at least), but it was thoroughly spooky and well worth my time. The story does get a little convoluted, but director LaLoggia keeps things moving along very well along keeping the confusion at a minimum. The film is a bit lengthy, running nearly a full two hours, and I thought some of this running time could have been shaved off by removing part, if not all, of the accused janitor subplot which really didn't serve much purpose other than to provide an obvious scapegoat, allowing the stumped authorities to stop their investigation of a case opened for some ten odd years. The conclusion of the subplot included the most grisly scene of the film, one that didn't necessarily fit with the rest of the movie. I've noticed some comments about special effects, specifically towards their `amateurish' look, but I think it's important to keep in mind this was a low budget, independently produced film. Some of these effects did look comparatively hokey in relation to other films released at the time, but I found this very easy to overlook given the strengths of the film, and the very simple fact the filmmaker didn't try to use said effects to cover up inadequacies in other areas, as is often the case. For me, the strengths (the story, the characters, etc.) more than made up for anything lacking in this area. I thought the characters were finely detailed, and the performances exceptional, especially that of Haas, whose expressionistic features really helped enhance specific moods throughout the movie, assisted immensely by a strong, supporting cast, including Alex Rocco, Len Cariou, Katherine Helmond, and Jason Presson. One interesting aspect for me was I figured out the identity of the killer early on, well before it was revealed (which happens about an hour and half in). I don't think I was able to discern this because I'm all that intuitive, so perhaps something within the story tipped its hand, a predictability of sorts, I'm unsure, but knowing this critical bit of information before the actual reveal didn't diminish my enjoyment of the story at all. It provided a little twist my knowing something the main characters didn't, and heightened the tension in a few scenes. I think one of my favorite scenes in the movie was while Frankie was reading a story he wrote to his class on Halloween, and we see one child, in a bunny costume, completely mesmerized by the tale, displaying a slack-jawed expression on his face. I also loved the reply from the little girl who was Frankie's classmate after he finished reading his story, of which I used for the title of my review. There are quite a few of these comedic touches throughout, many including Frankie's live-in grandparents played by Renata Vanni and Angelo Bertolini, which all play off nicely against the spookier elements. All in all I thought this was a wonderful film, one that I'm glad I now own.
The picture on this Columbia Tristar Home Video release, presented in anamorphic widescreen (1.85:1), look very sharp and clean, and the Dolby Digital Surround 5.1 audio comes through very well. There had been a previous DVD release of this film by Anchor Bay Entertainment, but that version, while presented in widescreen, was not in anamorphic format. There's a slew of special features including an audio commentary track by director LaLoggia, along with an intro to the film, a whole mess of deleted scenes, also with an intro by LaLoggia (with optional director's commentary), a behind the scenes photo montage, an extended photo gallery, and an original theatrical trailer.
One of My Favorite Movies!
Lee Parkway | Oregon, USA | 07/18/2000
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This movie is truely a masterpiece. In this chiller from director Frank LaLoggia, a young boy named Frankie is locked in a cloak-room closet Halloween night by two mischevious boys. While inside, Frankie sees the ghost of a little girl, re-living her murder; when the little girls' attacker returns to the cloak-room that very night, he almost kills Frankie. However, now the whole town is wondering: who did it? As Frankie explores the mystery, he finds a creepy connection to the Lady In White, a ghost who roams the cliffs at night. This film is beautiful, nostalgic, and highly entertaining. A visual masterpiece! One of the things that makes this film so good, is the fact that the ok-effects, brilliant acting, surreal surroundings, and great story-line all blend together to create a truely marvelous movie. It's one of those rare films that toy around with the viewers feelings and emotions to make the viewer laugh one moment and scream the next. Though the murder's identity may be easy to guess, this film never loses it's audiences attention. An ingenious work of art, this movie must be viewed with an understanding of the surreal filming to appreciate it. Also, don't expect it to be *perfect*. If I've made it sound like it is, well lower your expectations. As with most movies, this film is lacking in some areas. But hey, I'm not complaining. Definately worth the money!"