Of Murder Mystery And Vampires

Demonstrators, angry over a crackdown on pets, waved banners, signs and stuffed animals as they demanded a stop to police killings of unlicensed dogs to control pet populations, in a protest outside the Beijing Zoo, Saturday, Nov. 11, 2006.
AP Photo/Elizabeth Dalziel
CBS News Sunday Morning Critic John Leonard reviews DreamWorks Pictures and 20th Century Fox's What Lies Beneath , starring Michelle Pfeiffer and Harrison Ford, and Ultraviolet, a six-hour original miniseries that will air over three consecutive nights beginning July 31 on the Sci-Fi Channel.
So the beautiful wife who gave up music for motherhood suffers all of a sudden from empty-nest syndrome. So her handsome husband, a professor of science, has unresolved Oedipal issues. So there's a dead college coed under a lot of heavy-water symbolism. What Lies Beneath, the new ghost story/murder mystery with Michelle Pfeiffer and Harrison Ford, has taken its lumps from most of the critics, and maybe deserves them.

Director Robert Zemeckis spent a ton of money to make a mediocre Hitchcock. But in a summer full of cheesy movies, mediocre Hitchcock looks like sirloin. And Michelle, of course, is a feast.

Her daughter is gone, her house is haunted, her husband is lying, and then there's the bathtub. No wonder Michelle is beside herself. She may, in fact, be somebody else, though Harrison doesn't seem to care.

The Leonard File
Read past reviews by John Leonard.
On the other hand, you could stay home and see six hours of something truly scary on the Sci-Fi cable channel. Ultraviolet, starting tomorrow night, is another British miniseries about an elite team of supercops, except this time they aren't after sex criminals, drug dealers or even terrorists. Their prime suspects are all vampires - the ultimate pain in the neck.

Jack Davenport is upset enough when his partner, Stephen Moyer, doesn't show up for his own wedding to Colette Brown, with whom Jack is not-so-secretly in love himself. He's even more upset to find that he's being followed around by Susannah Harker and Idris Elba, a sort of death squad reporting to the priestly Philip Quast before they hit the streets to wage war against bloodsuckers with carbon bullets, ultraviolet light and a garlic derivative.

And he is downright distraught when his partner turns out to be one of them. So Jack joins the team and learns the truth about a vast conspiracy of these parasites to destroy their own hosts - with counterfeit money, kidnapped scientists, hbrid pregnancies, lowlife pedophiles and a virus the suckers are testing on children.

This only scratches the surface. Susannah Harker, last seen on television in Pride and Prejudice, turns out to be scarier than Harrison Ford or Dracula. And you may be interested to know that modern vampires think of themselves as victims, like racial minorities or gays.

And from this immensely entertaining miniseries one can learn something crucial. Vampires, or course, can't go out in the noonday sun. So they get about in automobiles with smoked windows we can't see into. So the next time you spot a stretch limousine, you now know that in the backseat there's probably a bloodsucker.