Release: April 22nd, 1988 Rating: R Run time: 112 min Starring: Lukas Haas, Len Cariou Director: Frank LaLoggia Official Trailer: Lady in White
As a young one, eons ago, watching Lady in White, I saw it as a ghost movie and nothing else. Skip to the present and I see that the movie is a whole lot more than just that. It’s a film that has several underlying messages, dealing with racism, child murder, the struggles of being a parent and of course, a ghost, who is lost without her mother. Lady in White is like a mix of Stephen King’s Stand by Me and Peter Straub’s Ghost Story. If that sounds like something that interests you, read on for more…
Short nitty-gritty plot description from IMDb is as follows: Locked in a school closet during Halloween 1962, young Frank witnesses
the ghost of a young girl and the man who murdered her years ago.
Shortly afterward he finds himself stalked by the killer and is soon
drawn to an old house where a mysterious Lady In White lives.
Tatlock’s Quick ‘n Dirty Recap: Frankie has a prank pulled on him, that involves him being locked up in the cloak room during Halloween night. Things are okay at first, that is until a ghost of a little girl shows up and then proceeds to play out her death right in front of him. Already terrified beyond belief, another mysterious figure in black shows up and catches Frankie, who almost dies from the confrontation, but somehow manages to survive the encounter. From there on out, Frankie keeps seeing the ghost of the little girl and he starts to slowly unravel the mystery that’s been haunting the town for quite some time.
Tatlock’s Opinion: Lady in White is a classic ghost tale, with barely a scare, but a story that keeps you invested until the very end. It’s got a good mystery going for it and the lead boy, Frankie, played by Lukas Haas, does a superb job at capturing that adolescent wonder of a boy caught up in an adventure. The film doesn’t just stop there with the ghost tale, instead it also deals with the problem of racism, as the movie plays out in the 60s and the school janitor, who happens to be black, gets arrested, based only on the fact that he is black and a perfect scape goat to please the suffering parents of the many lost and murdered children. It’s definitely something that went over my head as a child, but now, it’s a powerful message that still stands the test of time, even if it’s a little played out in movies nowadays.
The movie also deals with the murder of children and that’s something that’s fairly frowned upon nowadays, but Lady in White had the guts to go for it and really drive the story home. This hard topic is the backbone for the movie and without it, we wouldn’t have this wonderful film. Hollywood take note, sometimes it’s worth it to take risks.
Things aren’t all bleak all the time, as the movie serves up a good amount of laughs, much thanks to Frankie’s grandparents, especially the Grandfather, who’s always off trying to sneak a smoke and will more likely catch himself on fire instead. It’s lighthearted humor, that’s good for the whole family.
I am a little disappointed in the ending of the movie. The movie started off with a prologue, having the older Frankie, played by director Frank LaLoggia, tell his childhood memory to a taxi driver, on his way back home. It’s a nice narrative structure that helps tell this tale, but come the end, there is no epilogue. The movie just kind of ends and we don’t get any sort of wrap up. It would’ve been nice to see him head home and visit his family. Of course, the movie is clocking in a 112 minutes, so it might’ve been overkill, but for me, it would’ve helped frame the story even better.
Verdict: Lady in White starts off with a fun tale, with ample amounts of humor, intrigue and a perfect mystery, that has a good amount of twists. If you’re in the mood for a ghost story with some heart and a tale that is for the most part, family safe, give Lady in White a watch, you won’t regret it.