Director – Karen Arthur, Screenplay – Charles Zev Cohen & Susan Miller, Producers – Tony Scotti & Lawrence Taylor-Mortoff, Photography – Tom Neuwirth, Music – Craig Safan, Special Effects Supervisor – Michael O’Connor, Production Design – Craig Wurthner. Production Company – Scotti Brothers Pictures/International Video Entertainment Inc
Diane Lane (Katya Yarno), Michael Woods (Jack Price), Cotter Smith (Mac Odell), Edward Penn (Charles Thayer), Trish Simmons (Sylvia Price)
Katya Yarno gets a job with a department store as a window display designer. She proceeds to cause outrage with her sexually provocative and fetishistic set-ups of the mannequins in the window. However, this also attracts the attention of Jack Price, a radiologist who works in the building opposite. Jack proceeds to harass and follow Katya, making obscene phone calls and then breaking into her apartment. Finally, Katya stands up and fights back.
Lady Beware is a male voyeur-stalker psycho-thriller that follows a mini-genre of such films that came out in the early 1980s, beginning with John Carpenter’s Someone’s Watching Me (1978) and passing through the likes of Eyes of a Stranger (1981), Visiting Hours (1982) and The Seduction (1982).
Director Karen Arthur previously made the admirably perverse Mafu Cage/My Sister, My Love (1979). Here, when it comes to the arrangement of the storefront mannequins, she aims for a sophisticated, suggestively fetishistic look. Lady Beware is not unakin to Eyes of Laura Mars (1978), which had a similarly provocative and fetishistic look (as well as a plot that involved the heroine being targeted by a killer). Like Eyes of Laura Mars, the kinky look here proves to be a promise that far exceeds any potential delivery and Lady Beware disappointingly pans out to be nothing more than a routine psycho film. The plot is one that we have seen played out through these abovementioned films – psycho stalker becomes fixated on a single woman, woman eventually stands up for herself after the police have shrugged their shoulders etc etc.
Diane Lane – who was once touted as a major new star in the 1970s/early 80s before becoming an Academy Award-nominated actress for Unfaithful (2002) – is rather bland as the heroine of the show. However, Michael Woods portrays the psycho with an admirable sleaziness that is a marked change from the neurotic, clean-shaven psychos that usually inhabit these pieces.
Despite being written and directed by women and having cursory feminist leanings in the eventual theme of a woman standing up for herself, Lady Beware still has an underlying nastiness – it buys into the conservative subtext that inhabit many psycho-thrillers – from Psycho (1960) through Halloween (1978) and Dressed to Kill (1980) to indeed Eyes of Laura Mars – where a woman who exhibits or acts in any way sexually provocative is seen to be stirring up and inviting psychopathically disturbed trouble. In the end, it is only the mildly kinky window-dressings themselves that display any imagination – although an unintentionally hilarious sexual fantasy dream involving Diane Lane tumbling with mannequins leaves even that in doubt.