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TV REVIEW : Temporary Amnesia No Excuse for Forgettable 'Memories of Murder'

August 03, 1990|CHRIS WILLMAN

Temporary amnesia has provided the starting point for any number of lady-in-distress thrillers--among them Cornell Woolrich's oft-filmed novel "I Married a Dead Man"--and it's the impetus for the action once again in the TV movie "Memories of Murder" (which premiered Tuesday and repeats at 8 tonight and at 5 p.m. Saturday on the Lifetime cable network).

The amnesia, in fact, is epidemic here. The makers seem to have suffered a few lapses of their own, not the least of which is forgetting to plot their thriller much beyond the basic premise. That is, after the first half an hour, there are no plot twists and plenty of padded, pointless car chases.

The setup is promising, with Nancy Allen--now apparently doomed to a life of playing housewives, outside of the "Robocop" franchise--hitting her head on the pavement on her second wedding anniversary and waking up with no memory of her husband or stepdaughter. She does, however, remember having a different name, set of pals and boyfriend, which puts an understandable crimp in her current marital sex life.

Soon Vanity shows up, doing the androgyny thing (a la mentor Prince) in a boyish haircut and slacks, tormenting poor Allen for some unknown past transgression in various psycho ways that seem to have been borrowed from "Fatal Attraction." As the husband, Robin Thomas reacts so benignly to all this mayhem that you expect some twist in which he turns out to be in on the evil, but it seems he's just another wooden part of a wooden production. Suffice it to say that the unraveling of the mystery of Allen's two existences is amazingly pedestrian, and there's no redeeming fun in the telling, either.

"Memories of Murder" is the first original movie to premiere on Lifetime, which can only go uphill with future endeavors. To paraphrase '50s-era Elvis: Don't forget to remember to forget to watch it.

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