She’s Back, 1989 (Carrie Fisher) Vestron Pictures
“Now, I don’t want to argue, but I swear to you, you will never know a moment’s peace. And when you’re old and you pass away, I’ll just have to haunt you for all eternity. Now, I want you to think about that for a moment.”*
This is a strange one. I can’t quite place it within Carrie Fisher’s (or Robert Joy’s) ouevre, but She’s Back was released in 1989 around the time of The Burbs, Loverboy, and When Harry Met Sally. It’s a curious assortment of movies. One movie was an enormous hit, another was middling, another barely made back its money, and then there’s … this. Fisher and Joy are Beatrice and Paul, a married couple who have just moved into the “Park Hill” (no such place) section of Queens.
Maybe it’s a amalgamation of Park Slope in Brooklyn and Forest Hills in Queens. Very pricey neighborhoods these days! Park Hill looks a little too working class. Maybe Jackson Heights or what they used to call “North Beach?” Word gets round about the new neighbors to the local hoodlums who break into the house, start stealing stuff, beat up Paul, and KILL Beatrice. Let me write that again. They KILL Beatrice.
Did I mention this is supposed to be a comedy? A black comedy, to be sure, but a comedy nonetheless. Cops can’t seem to find the killers, so Paul is left in a lurch until he is visited by the ghost of Beatrice who immediately starts in with hounding him. It seems her soul can’t rest until she can get revenge on her killers. She also wants him to unpack everything and fix up the house. Okay.
I have to give the movie credit for venturing into the same territory Ghost covered a year later. It’s not exactly original, or anything—it’s like a combination of Beetlejuice and Death Wish. Where Ghost was a sweet, romantic thriller with moments of laugh-out-loud humor, She’s Back feels wrong. It lacks energy and wit, and there is no spark between the leads.
They’re supposed to be married, but I don’t believe their relationship, and I don’t believe Paul would go to ridiculous extremes to avenge his wife’s murder. Because of Beatrice’s nagging, Paul becomes a feared vigilante. It’s nice to see Erick Avari and Bobby Di Cicco pop up in small parts. I had just watched 1941 the other day. What the hell is Di Cicco doing in this movie? Then again, what is everybody doing in this movie?
Oddly, the sets and lighting recall multi-camera sitcoms. Now that I think of it, this might’ve been a decent set-up for a television series. Think about it. A husband and his dead wife solve mysteries. I’d stick around for a couple of episodes before the inevitable cancellation. According to the Imdb, director Tim Kincaid produced a handful of mainstream films, namely Breeders and Robot (“You and your daughter are doomed!”) Holocaust, but he is better known by his alias, Joe Cage. Cage directed over 70 gay adult films between 1976 and 2017.
Even with this terrible movie, Carrie is still Carrie, made to look lifeless under some bad makeup that changes consistency in every other shot; she was fighting some serious demons at the time and was starting her second life as a novelist. Postcards from the Edge was published two years before and the follow-up, Surrender the Pink, would be published the following year. Work is an important part of battling addiction. Perhaps she decided to work on this movie as a way to keep sober in between jobs. I miss her.
*A threat every husband and wife has heard.