The Warner Archive October 9, 2018 Blu-ray release of the 1974 TV Movie "Bad Ronald" reminds us of the Golden Age of such guilty pleasure gems. This one has the bonus of the still-modern element of having a psycho covertly living in the walls of your home. This cult status also favors buying the Blu-ray, rather than relying on almost surely spotty inclusion on a streaming service,
This variation of "Psycho" begins with the titular excitable high-school senior (Scott Jacoby) enjoying a birthday party with his domineering mother Elaine (Kim Hunter). She is sharing her high aspirations for her boy when he cuts things short to visit the object of his affection over the objection of his mother.
The reception that dorky Ronald receives on showing up when the girl of his dreams and the other cool kids are swimming is either hilarious or heartbreaking depending on your perspective, It does prove that kids say the cruelest things.
Ronald is fresh off this experience when a subsequent encounter is the straw that broke the camel's sanity in that push comes to fatal shove. This sends Ronald into the arms of the one woman who loves him; Elaine responds in a manner that leads to Ronald simultaneously breaking the records for the amount of time that a teen boy spends locked in the bathroom and goes without changing his tightie-whities.
The plot thickens when Ronald ventures out one day to find Elaine gone and the house empty of all furniture. This changes when Mr. and Mrs. Wood move in with their three teen daughters. Fun casting related to this includes having ubiquitous '80s actor Dabney Coleman play Mr. Wood. We also get Ted Eccles of kidcom "Dr. Shrinker" fame as Duane Matthews, who is the object of the affection of one of the Wood girls and the brother of the homicide victim,
A combination of Duane telling the Wood family the history of the house and of Ronald increasingly haunting the abode particularly puts the younger members of the family ill at ease. A relatable aspect of this is the many times throughout our lives when we are certain that we had now missing food or that an object seemingly has been tampered with.
The aforementioned modern aspect enters the picture in this regard. One sign of our Dystopian Days is the regular urban myths and facts about a former owner of a house restricting his residence to a concealed area out of economic necessity and/or a disturbed mind. The really scary part is that this often can continue for extended periods before being discovered.
The tension nicely builds as Ronald increasingly loses his grasp on reality in proportion to becoming obsessed with the girls next door. Things proverbially hit the fan when the mice going away prompts the cat to prey. A highlight of this is Duane ending up in a position that will delight folks who fall within the overlap between people who enjoy S&M and "Shrinker" fans.
Things rapidly wrap up in an inevitable manner the removes any doubt regarding the erroneous belief of Elaine that Ronald is destined to be a brain surgeon.