Tuesday, April 14, 2015

The Exhumed: Cry Baby Lane

Recently, Nickelodeon aired a film called Cry Baby Lane on The 90's are All That.

Now...here is the thing that slightly concerns me. I had never heard of Cry Baby Lane before. I pride myself on my love of all the spooky kid things from the 90's onward, so for this to slip through the cracks isn't something I'm proud of. In fact, it's a down right shame.

Cry Baby Lane originally aired on October 28th, 2000 on Nickelodeon. Melissa Joan Hart introduced the movie. I'm guessing she was also performing other hosting duties for Nick during the Halloween season. Since that first airing, Cry Baby Lane had never been re-aired until 2011. I'm not sure how many times it has aired since, but it has to be very few. However, you can watch the entire film on YouTube. It's good for at least one watch. Just to say "I've seen Cry Baby Lane."

Cry Baby Lane started life as a 10 million dollar feature film, but instead became a lower budget made for TV movie. One wonders what the original script was like, as the film only runs a little over an hour and would have been a complete waste of 10 million dollars.

When Nick re-aired the movie, they claimed it was banned. The real story is that, apparently, it was simply forgotten. I'm willing to buy that. Having now watched the film, it's extremely lackluster. It's not really scary and it certainly isn't extremely violent at all, which was a claim as to why it was never aired again. There are episodes of Are You Afraid of the Dark? that send a chill down my spine even now, so I'd freely admit if this were a bit scary. Hell, even The Haunting Hour has creeped me out on occasion. Yet, Cry Baby Lane is far from scary.

Cry Baby Lane takes cues from various other films/TV shows like Pumpkinhead, Invasion of the Body Snatchers, and Goosebumps. The same year this aired, Are You Afraid of the Dark? ceased production. I think Nick saw this as a good chance to capitalize on that.

I have a few issues with the movie. It feels very rushed, but seems to take forever to get to the end. It starts rather strong with an interesting tale of two conjoined twins, one good and one evil, that are separated at death. That makes for a good start, but it devolves from there. I won't air out all the problems, but the biggest issue for me is Cry Baby Lane. It sounds unrealistic as a street name, the twins clearly died as teens or twenty-somethings as we see the bad twin later in the film, and it just doesn't work for me that there is a crying baby noise used throughout. But it's a very evocative title and Frank Langella is worthy of so much more than this.

I think Cry Baby Lane squandered a lot of potential. With some rewrites and a bigger budget for quality actors, this could have become a cult classic. But as it stands, Cry Baby Lane will be more remembered for being forgotten than it will be for anything else.

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