Remembering Markie Post in a versatile role that spooked and thrilled to the end…
Markie Post plays a concerned mother in this familiar family drama but with a scary sci-fi spin.
Visitors of the Night (1995) Trailer, Smeagol
I was sad to learn that the actress, Markie Post had passed away recently. She was an actress that I always remember in The Fall Guy (1981-86) as bondswoman, Terri Michaels. Despite my fond memories of her in this one of her most remembered characters, I decided on reviewing her in a more substantial role.
Looking at her filmography, she had taken earlier roles in many a retro TV show I’d watched as a kid. These shows including many of those I’ve reviewed, including Glitter (1984), The Love Boat (1977-86), Buck Rogers in the 25th Century (1979) and in Hart to Hart (1979-84).
I sadly still haven’t seen her in one of her more famous TV roles as Christine Sullivan in Night Court (1984-92). It sounds like a TV treat, just judging from the comments seen in her posthumous tributes. Post also had a recurring role in the mini-series The Gangster Chronicles (1981). I also remember her in TV Movies such as 1982’s Not Just Another Affair with Dallas‘ Victoria Principal.
In my review, I am reviewing her TV Movie, Visitors of the Night (1995), where she rightly gets top billing. Markie plays Judith English, a mother to a spectacled teenage girl, Katie (Candace Cameron Bure) and they have your average mother-teenage girl love-hate relationship. Judith is ex-wife to Bryan (Stephen McHattie), Katie’s dad and wannabe town councillor. He’s a douchebag and there is a fair load of animosity between these ex-partners. In contrast, Judith has bourgeoning romantic chemistry with the town sheriff and childhood friend, Marcus (Dale Midkiff).
At the beginning of this TV Movie, a pack of horses charge into town in the wee small hours. Meanwhile, Judith is having nightmares about her daughter, Katie. She wakes up in a panic, shuts and locks all the windows and then she can’t find her daughter and panics that she’s not in her room. Katie appears from outside and claims to have taken the dog for a walk, but it turns out she was with her boyfriend Matt (Rob Stefaniuk) as Judith sees him zoom off on his motorbike.
The next day, Sheriff Marcus Ashley arrives by helicopter (!) after he is called by a farmer to investigate some crop circles. The farmer also asks him to check on his horses who have returned to the farm, after their night visit into town. Marcus notices one of the horses has bleeding behind its ear and he believes this was possibly due to an attempt to tag it.
Marcus goes to the local school to investigate as the farmer puts it down to “those darn kids”. Simultaneously Katie gets into trouble at school for doodling during a class exam at the same time as answering the questions. Spookily, her doodle is the same as a photograph of the crop circles. Judith is called to the school.
Later Judith gets anxious during a visit to the dentist. Her dentist suggests hypnotherapy after she freaks out then passes out after a light shone in her face. Judith’s flashbacks then tell of how she saw a beam of light coming into her room as a child. Her parents were then seen in a trance and she was unable to wake them.
Back in the present day, Judith grounds her daughter and she goes away for a work trip. Judith asks her mother Faye (Pam Hyatt) to keep an eye on Katie. Judith’s nightmares and distressing thoughts of her childhood continue while she is away. Katie has a party, and after she takes the rubbish out, Katie comes back to her house to discover everyone left after the lights went a bit wonky.
Her friend Alison has waited for her and tells Katie that she was absent from the party for three hours… Katie can’t explain why and she finds some strange scratches on her tummy. She also notices what looks like some injection marks in a triangle shape there too. Katie talks to her grandmother about it, who is reassured she’s ok and she still has a locket – which was a family heirloom – that she gave her, but she urges Katie to tell her mother.
More crop circles appeared during the time of the party… and Katie is more and more increasingly bolshie with Judith. On one occasion she zooms off in her mother’s car after they fall out. After picking up Matt, Katie and he see three strangers with apparent car trouble. Then they are followed by a beam of light.
After Matt takes the wheel he doesn’t respond to Katie’s pleas to him to stop speeding, then he and Katie then are involved in a car accident… but we are told there was no other car involved. At the scene of the accident, Judith finds the locket chain in the car, but no locket… and in the hospital, her mother notices a triangular mark behind her daughter’s ear.
And now for the all-important story as told in a succession of flashbacks and nightmares throughout the movie… but these are now summed up. It seems that some spooky things happened when Judith was six years old. After seeing an intense light, we see Judith surrounded by hen feathers near a barn and looking upset and there are no hens present. Later a beam of light is seen beamed into her bedroom window and she can’t wake her parents from their apparent trances.
At Christmas time she goes to the living room, and all the opened presents then come to life, and the window was then flung open. Six-year-old Judith was lifted off the ground and beamed towards a spaceship where she was observed by non-talking, grey spindly aliens with almond-shaped eyes.
Through hypnotherapy, Judith remembers she met these aliens again when she was pregnant with Katie. After this incident, she was left with the same triangular marks on her stomach, and these are similar to marks her daughter has in the present day. Judith also saw a triangular mark behind her ear, after these spooky experiences… And there’s more to come…
This film was much more than a family drama of the mother-daughter-ex-husband kind. With the addition of the alien abduction storyline and the surrounding staggered flashbacks, this was more a journey with fear, suspense and horror. Markie Post was convincing and credible in her character’s many different roles within this movie as mother, ex-wife, daughter and potential lover.
Post shone in her scenes as a worried and concerned mother to a teenage girl, and this was seen in her obsessive window shutting and locking in those opening scenes. The explanations of this behaviour are explained later in the flashbacks. Post’s character had a familiar more on than off rapport with her on-screen daughter at the start of the movie.
Katie changed overnight to a more bolshie, hyper-intelligent girl who was super healthy and didn’t need glasses, and this worried her on-screen mother. Post was supportive, stern and understanding to her daughter as required by the plot. It was clear Judith had a strong relationship with her mother. Judith’s mother has a pivotal role in later scenes.
Markie as Judith was able to easily show annoyance and frustration with her on screen ex-husband as they bickered in many of their joint scenes. Her growing attraction to Marcus was also evident but their attraction was sadly not acted on. Admittedly, the romantic in me did get frustrated that this potential romance was not explored as they had sweet on-screen chemistry. The film instead annoyingly seemed to concentrate more on her relationship with her douchebag husband.
In examining Judith’s more troubled role, Post does much more than thrash about a bed with nightmares. As her character is seen to be anxious at the dentists, distressed in hypnotherapy or talking about her remembered experiences with her on-screen mother, Markie gave stirring and authentic performances in all these scenes.
She easily demonstrated her fear in the situations with those aliens. You felt her fears, as you lived it with her as she remembered the full story in those chilling – but creatively made – flashback scenes. These resulting in her anxiety-related behaviours and her worries about her daughter’s safety and well being. Through the plot and accompanying scenes with those aliens, you understood her character’s growing concern for her daughter which progressed to terrifying heights as she remembered more of her own experiences during hypnotherapy.
In her performance, Markie showcased her range, versatility and talents in this multi-layered character. This strong acting puts her in a new light. She even has time to add to give a heartbreakingly felt, heart to heart monologue to… I’m not saying it was with aliens, but it was…