Wicked Wednesday: Fantasies (1982)

Like sands through the hourglass, so are the days of our lives.”

The voice inside my head

As long as I can remember, my mom has watched Days of Our Lives. And for just as long, my mom has complained about it. My grandmother watched Touched By an Angel. My childhood friend All My Children. Though I never watched soaps myself, their power and influence still reached me through many women in my life. (The number of tragic car crashes and affairs my poor Barbies suffered!)

I’m endlessly fascinated by soap operas. When I learned that Fantasies was a TV movie slasher set around a soup, I knew this was for me.

Middleton, USA is a popular soap opera, created by Carla Webber (Suzanne Pleshette). Carla is smart and successful – and witty to boot. It’s all going her way until she receives news that the main baddy on her show has been murdered.

The owner of the network puts Carla and her writers under pressure to rewrite the show and rework the show without their villain. They do, but he’s soon killed off, too.

To get away from the drama and get thinking about the show’s new direction, Carla takes her daughter, Sandy, to their beach house. There Carla bumps into her ex-husband at a party. He’s there with his new, younger beau. Seemingly unbothered, Carla turns her attention to the detective on the case of the murders, Flynn.

Things get plenty soapy as Carla battles her two men. And sure, more actors get killed. But life carries on, right?

Until one night, Carla herself is attacked while in bed. She makes a narrow escape when a delivery man scares away the masked man.

With Carla the next target, she and Flynn are forced to figure out who the killer is – fast. There’s a whole slew of fun and campy suspects: a former star, a crazed fan, maybe even the husband! The movie gives you plenty of red herrings along the way, but this is a soap opera: clues hardly matter!

Fantasies has all the makings of being an awesome movie. However, I think its TV restrictions hinder it from being truly excellent. Any violence is toned down and the focus is mostly on relationships and romance. The soap opera aspects win out over any mystery or horror. It could be truly lush and bloody if remade for the cinema or streaming. However, any remake wouldn’t have Pleschette, which would be a shame. She’s wonderful and charismatic in this. She carries the entire movie on her back!

I also enjoyed a main character who was a bit older. TV movies are usually good at this, as they often focus on motherhood as one of the central themes. Carla was successful and strong and had plenty of her own agency. She might have admitted to writing pious female characters, but she was a little more complex than that.

This might not have been everything I wanted it to be, but I think it’s well worth the watch even if just to see Pleshette look utterly glamorous on screen.

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