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Category:    Home > Reviews > Horror > Thriller > Telefilm > TV Movie > Bad Ronald (1974/Warner Bros. Archive Collection DVD)

Bad Ronald (1974/Lorimar/Warner Bros. Archive Collection DVD)

Picture: C- Sound: C Extras: D Telefilm: B-

PLEASE NOTE: The film got a terrific, much needed upgrade to Blu-ray and you can order either version from Warner Archive below...

Few TV movies have gained the cult reputation by simply being out of circulation as long as Buzz Kulik's Bad Ronald (1974) has, with more than a few sources claiming it was broadcast as part of ABC's After School Special series, but we are more certain now that is not the case for what was a hit telefilm. Warner Bros. (who owns the Lorimar catalog, the producer of the film) has finally issued a DVD of it and to my pleasant surprise, I remembered it as I watched and it holds up extremely well.

Scott Jacoby (who co-starred with Jodie Foster in The Little Girl Who Lives Down The Lane) is the title character, an introvert who could use a few friends and is lucky to have the support of a loving mother (Kim Hunter), but that is sadly not enough. It gets worse when he kills one of the neighborhood girls by accident!

Instead of running away or going to the police, Ronald tells his mother and her solution sends this film into its bizarre trajectory: she arranges for him to live secretly inside the house in backrooms and out of the range of the windows. At first, this works because the police do not immediately suspect him and there are not enough clues. However, more twists take place and one of the creepiest and still most effective TV movies to this day gets more eerie and suspenseful. With a great additional cast giving fine performances that include Pippa Scott, John Larch, Dabney Coleman, John Fiedler, Cindy Eilbacher, Lisa Eilbacher and Linda Purl, this is a must-see Horror thriller for anyone who loves them.

Andrew Peter Martin adapted from the John Holbrook Vance story. Why more of his work has not been adapted is a mystery of its own, but finally issued, Vance and Bad Ronald will hopefully be seen as the wild TV classic it is.

The 1.33 X 1 image was shot in 35mm film and this is just a bad analog transfer that has all kinds of detail troubles and is very soft, with problematic color to boot. That is a shame because Director of Photography Charles F. Wheeler did a fine job here and previously worked on the original Twilight Zone, Silent Running and even the Blaxploitation sequel Slaughter's Big Rip-Off. Hope the film's original elements are secure and being saved. The lossy Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono is better and good for its age, but I believe there could be a little more room for improvement considering this all seems to come from a second-generation source. The score by Fred Karlin (the original Westworld and Futureworld feature films) is a big plus.

Sadly, there are no extras, but here comes the remake [it got delayed for all the years since this posted in 2009], so see it before that happens.

You can order this and other Archive releases at this link:


- Nicholas Sheffo


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