10 Accidental Lifetime Movies


This weekend marks the release of a thriller that played at Tribeca Film Festival last year, about a deranged babysitter who terrorizes the children of an unsuspecting family. The plot of Emelie sounds like a Lifetime-esque movie at its best — the network known for its sensational stories and over-the-top acting. We looked back at other “accidental” Lifetime movies — erotic thrillers, cheesy dramas, and hysterical stories (some better than others) that capture the made-for-TV essence.


Bless Idris Elba for playing the hunk in this Polanski and Hitchcock-inspired obsession thriller, co-starring Ali Larter and Beyoncé. Props to director Steve Shill for switching up the racial dynamic in the movie. And in case there was any question, Bey gets down and dirty in order to defend her man. Scott Tobias tells it like it is in his review:

Larter is a purely diabolical creature, motivated entirely by the homicidal slut within, but Elba’s castrating wife isn’t much of a prize either; she professes her trust for him, only to forbid him explicitly from working closely with women of any kind. These titans come together for a suitably overheated finale, and Obsessed makes an inadvertent argument for the monastery.

Poison Ivy II

In an attempt to shed the nice girl image from her Who’s the Boss days, Alyssa Milano appeared in this direct-to-video sequel that milked the bad-girl Drew Barrymore rep of the original film for all it was worth. It’s basically art students gone wild.

Cruel Intentions 3

Watch this ridiculous little prep school drama ahead of the Cruel Intentions sequel, coming soon from NBC. This time the manipulative schoolgirl is Cassidy Merteuil, the cousin of Sarah Michelle Gellar’s Kathryn Merteuil. Also watch it to see what happened to Kerr Smith after Dawson’s Creek, or just don’t. “I felt guilt watching it, and, frankly it didn’t elicit much pleasure,” writes DVD Verdict.

Blown Away

Any film starring ‘90s babe Nicole Eggert and the two Coreys is Lifetime-esque material, here centering on a teen seductress who wraps a group of men around her little finger in the midst of a murder mystery. Direct-to-video movie blogger Matt Poirier discusses the film’s most important details: “This movie has a ton of Corey Haim’s buttcheeks. Sure, it has a bit of Nicole Eggert’s boobs, pre-implants, and it has some Feldman butt too, if you’re into that. But it has more Haim cheeks than I’m sure anyone ever wanted to see. It was way more than I wanted, I know that.”

Lady Beware

This was Diane Lane’s best attempt at the erotic thriller before Adrian Lyne’s Unfaithful. She plays a department store window designer who is stalked by a married man, but tries to turn the tables on him. The Washington Post wrote about the film’s grittiest, heart-stopping moments: “He begins taunting her with phone calls. Then he breaks into her mailbox. Then he peeks through her window as she bathes (by candlelight, sipping champagne). Finally, he breaks into her loft and defiles it. So what’s the awful thing? He uses her toothbrush. Ooohh! And doesn’t even rinse it off.”

The Babysitter

Before she started regurgitating food into the mouths of babes, Aerosmith music video siren Alicia Silverstone was playing up to her naughty image on the big screen. From DVD Talk:

The Babysitter isn’t driven by its story so much as the characters’ relationship to Jennifer, and, in pretty much every case, their sexual desire for her. At least half of the film is made up not of actual story developments, but fantasies that the characters have about Jennifer, starting with Harry Tucker and on down through to little Jimmy. Over the course of the movie, each character’s fantasy develops and changes, and as the film works up to a more feverish pitch, the fantasies even start to run together.

Color of Night

From Roger Ebert about the 1994 Bruce Willis (weird!) and Jane March-starring thriller, which finds a doctor and unstable young woman in a sexually obsessive relationship:

Color of Night approaches badness from so many directions that one really must admire its imagination. Combining all the worst ingredients of an Agatha Christie whodunit and a sex-crazed slasher film, it ends in a frenzy of recycled thriller elements, with a chase scene, a showdown in an echoing warehouse, and not one but two cliches from Ebert’s Little Movie Glossary: The Talking Killer and the Climbing Villain. I am compelled to admit that the use of the high-powered industrial staple gun is original.

The Rapture

Mimi Rogers is a swinging LA woman, until a creepy sect begins to control her ravenous libido using threats of the Rapture. She becomes a born-again Christian, but God isn’t ready to forgive her harlotry that easily. Pre-X-Files David Duchovny makes an appearance, and the film is genuinely creepy in parts.

Single White Female

The movie that made “single white female” a verb. Bridget Fonda’s character advertises for a new roommate and winds up with a tenant who slowly reveals the psychopath within. Roger Ebert highlighted some of the film’s better aspects in his review:

There is one climax after another after another here, until it seems as if the characters will drop of exhaustion, and yet they fight on. There is a kind of mad artistic zeal to their passionate duel, underlined by the fact that both Fonda and Leigh pull out all the stops in their performances, and that they do eventually look so much like one another that it’s creepy.

The Hand That Rocks the Cradle

Post-Risky Business Rebecca De Mornay plays an unhinged nanny who seduces the daddy of the house and tries to steal mom’s newborn. DVD Talk reviewed the film for its 20th anniversary:

Curtis Hanson’s 1992 thriller The Hand That Rocks The Cradle was very much a product of its time. With ‘sexy thrillers’ popular in the early nineties and a trend in cinema seeing a lot of movies made where the family unit was being upset by some outside force, the casting of the beautiful and talented Rebecca De Mornay was all a lot of us needed to have our interest piqued, but the movie holds up well on more levels than one even if it is a bit on the predictable side.