Death Valley (1982)
Death Valley is one of those movies that is competently written and acted but suffers from an extreme case of inertia. It's just so run-of-the-mill and without much surprise or energy, and despite the good qualities there are on hand, it's hardly able to elicit much excitement.
The plot follows little Peter Billingsley (Ralphie from A Christmas Story) as he is on a road trip through Death Valley with his mom, Catherine Hicks, and her new boyfriend, Paul LeMat. Also lurking around there is a vicious serial killer preying on wayward tourists. By accident, Billingsley discovers a clue to the killer's identity and we get very protracted scenes of the bad buy stalking Billingsley and killing various unfortunates who happen to find themselves in his path.
That's really all there is to it, and maybe that would've been enough had director Dick Richards done something to make Death Valley more involving or stylish, but as it is it barely registers above the sort of thing you'd see on a television movie: something that's easy enough to kill two hours with, but entirely nondescript and forgettable. Every scene in Death Valley feels entirely perfunctory, except for the low point involving a fat girl (played for laughs by making her a greedy pig) who is hired to babysit Billingsley and gets her throat slashed after being lured by free vending machine food.
Stephen McHattie plays the role of the killer and, to make matters even more cliched than they already were, his 'good' twin brother. It hardly makes a lot of difference since McHattie approaches both brothers in the exact same way to make it impossible to know which is which. Billingsley makes for a likable kid hero; he's effective without being cloying, annoying or too smart for his own good. Hicks and LeMat are fine enough but they are given little to do until the predictable fisticuffs and gun battles occur in the film's climax.
Death Valley simply exists in that netherzone of cinema, being neither good nor bad enough to be retained within the memory banks of the viewer.