User Reviews (16)

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  • "Dead by Sunset" has a "Movie of the Week" look about itself. It is surprising to read some comments to IMDb as to the length of the movie, when it was a sort of mini-series on television to begin with. The film was shown on Starz Mystery recently. The fact it was based on a novel by Ann Rule we had read, made us watch it.

    As directed by Karen Arthur, the film offers some good moments. The story is based on a real incident, that happened in Oregon. Since it was filmed on the original locations, "Dead by Sunset" offers some glorious views of Portland and its suburbs.

    We are introduced to the Cunningham family. Right away, one realizes there's a problem with Brad, the intense husband of Cheryl, a lawyer with a major firm. Our suspicions are confirmed by a series of incidents staged by Brad in order to make his wife appear as a bad mother because she has custody of their three children.

    When Sara, a doctor, is introduced to Brad by a mutual friend, she has no idea who this man is, or the role he will play in her life. Brad, who is a misogynist, has been brought up by his macho father to hate women and never to trust them. Brad's own mother was cut from his life and he has grown to resent her, which is the same contempt he feels for Cheryl, the mother of his three sons.

    The film has some good moments because of the acting Ms. Arthur got from her cast. The three principals, Ken Olin, Annette O'Toole, and Lindsay Frost, make good appearances in the film.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    ***SPOILERS*** ***SPOILERS*** This mini-movie, filled with drama, told of the state of a nut case by the name of Brad Cunnigham. He was a successful businessman, a wonderful husband, and a loving father of two least everyone thought he was. He was in a generally unhappy state although he had everything. He met up with a doctor by the name of Sara, who falls in love with him convinced that his wife Cheryl is both an unfit mother and "slut," as he calls he many things in this movie. Brad then kills Cheryl and when he is placed on trail the truth unfolds and he must suffer the consequences. This movie is a great drama and it will have you on the edge of your seat.
  • This is a surprise mystery/suspense film which portrays the sad and realistic true story of Bradley Cunningham, an abusive husband who was married five different times, and was charged with the murder of his fourth wife (well-portrayed by Annette O'Toole).

    Cunningham had three young sons, and each performance in this film is very sympathetic (they each had red hair like their murdered mother).

    The film is well done in that we see Cunningham's initial relationship with O'Toole, how it becomes increasingly sadistic (he cheats on her uses the children as pawns, and she reports his business to the IRS). Then the developing relationship with Lindsay Frost (who just happens to be a successful surgeon) Brad's estranged sister mentions; Brad was always planning, people are objects, they belong to him. A clear portrayal of a narcissistic personality.

    There is a scene with John Terry as O'Toole's attorney/colleague; he is attempting to charge Cunningham with the crime in civil court, since the initial evidence wouldn't stand in criminal court. He meets Lindsay Frost (who is now Cunningham's fifth wife, as yet unaware of what he is capable of). He mentions to her that Cunningham has been married many times, has the victim's diary, and wants her to learn the reality of the situation.

    Given the subject matter, this is very well-done. So many other films tackling this subject seem over the top, or become laughable (i.e. there was one LMN movie in particular with Janine Turner; can't recall the name) Frost's performance is also excellent, and sympathetic as she rescues Cunningham's sons from his further lies and manipulations. Based on the true crime novel by Ann Rule (who also wrote the book "The Stranger Beside Me", "Before he wakes" and several other true crime books) This film is well worth watching. 8/10.
  • lkb_323 September 2006
    I saw only the 1st part just last night. I didn't realize there was another part so I don't know how it ends!!! How does he come to trial and what happens to him? I think Annette O'Tool is absolutely dynamic but the lady doctor's personality is lacking something. I don't recall what year this actual event took place, does anyone know? I may have to read the book to get more details, but the move was excellent. I will watch it again.It's hard to believe there are people in this world like him. I wonder if the book goes into more detail about his own father and his relationship to his wife. And, the boys he had, I wonder what kind of life they are living now.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    Dead By Sunset first off is Ann Rule's best book in her career. The film is outstanding! Annette O'toole as Cheryl Keeton made the film work. O'toole is a great actress and she made Cheryl come alive again. The make up was also outstanding! after Cheryl Keeton was bludgeoned to death the crew made it look real you could see the wounds and marks on Annette's face. GREAT MOVIE!!!!
  • This film portrays a sick young man who was abused as a child and grew up hating the mother image, he would marry women only to eventually torture and did everything evil he could to make their lives a daily living Hell. He tired to poison his children's minds against their mother and this went on from one wife to another. Ken Olin(Brad Cunningham),"' Till There Was You",'97, did an outstanding acting performance and Annette O'Toole was a great supporting actor through out the entire film. Ken Olin had a very high I.Q. but it seemed all this knowledge was directed toward being Evil and Hateful! Olin even defended himself in a court of law like other well known killers! I did notice that the music in some scenes where there was some romance goings on in a shower, the music sounded very much like "BODY HEAT", with a sexy trumpet player going wild! If you ever see signs like this in your marriage, run for the back door and keep RUNNING!
  • Altaira4 November 2001
    If you enjoy true crime (well, as much as anyone can "enjoy" it) read Ann Rule's book by the same name. The movie is a typical Lifetime production (overwrought acting, breathlessly uttered corny lines, and a truly laughable soundtrack.) Brad Cunningham seems like a villain that could only exist in a TV movie, but sadly, he really did the monstrous acts portrayed. Read the book, which goes into far greater detail and will leave you wondering how anyone could be this evil.
  • I especially enjoyed this movie because it was set in the two areas in which I spent most of my adult life (Portland's west side and Lake Oswego). I recognized all of the settings and could personally relate to them. I especially enjoyed the acting of Mike Shinn who I know is very believable playing the part he played and also in the setting in which he played it. I find this to be one of my favorite suspense thrillers. The character played by Ken Olin, Brad Cunningham, in my opinion, was very well-portrayed; Any man who could do what HE did, would NOT be a man with warmth!!! The horrible way he was treated in his childhood made him the way he was. I feel this is a lesson for parents who may still be clueless not realizing the effect of their treatment of their children.
  • I remember when this movie was shot in Portland, Oregon, about eleven years ago. I had just joined a band (Henry Moon) and the guitarist's wife was involved with the making of this movie, though I don't remember what her title was exactly (she does not appear in the credits). We got to sit up all night, eat with the stars, watch scenes in the bar while they were shot, walk through the set, and hang out in a rough part of Portland all night on a weeknight in late Summer/early Fall. Then we got to be the band in the bar. I think our guitarist's right arm makes a 5 second appearance, and the rest of it, including our band's song, "The Night They Didn't Go To The Horror Picture Show," ended up on the cutting room floor. Oh well.

    I knew nothing about the story until I saw this movie on the Encore/True Stories channel about ten years later. I was not as impressed as some reviewers have been with the acting. Yes, Ken Olin was good as a cruel and psycho nut case, but his character was thin and cold... the best villains have a sympathetic element to them, and yet Ken Olin's Brad Cunningham had no human or sympathetic characteristic at all. None. He is cinematic cardboard. Of course, I felt horrible for Cheryl Keeton (Annette O'Toole), and her children, but none of them were believable or had a lot of depth in this adaptation of Ann Rule's book. I did not feel as horrible as I should have, considering what happened to them. I did find myself rooting for Dr. Sara Gordon, but not as much as I wanted to. It all seemed so... flat, boring, and even though I had no real knowledge of the plot or background story, predictable.

    Its an interesting story, once you get past the character development and the script. I cannot blame the cast. Ann Rule's book did not translate well into this script, and certainly Wesley Bishop could have taken a little bit more time with it, maybe even collaborated with Ms. Rule...of course I don't know that they didn't collaborate. I hope they didn't, it would explain a lot about the script, illustrating how an author's vision can be misinterpreted and dumbed down for television. The script hardly lives up to the story she told in her book. Karen Arthur (Director) was fun to work with, but I had never been in front of a camera before, so I wouldn't know what a good director does. I do have my opinion of the final product, however, and I thought this could have been a lot better. I know that they shot it in a hurry... if I recall, the shoot went around the clock, was shot in 8 or 10 weeks total, and by watching the film I can tell that they didn't re-shoot all that much.

    Still, its fun to see my home town in the made-for-television movies, and this is an interesting true story. If you like true crime dramas (for whatever reason) and can get past the somewhat wooden acting and airy, thin script, you might enjoy this film. I did NOT hate it. It was fun to watch and the story is good. I think my main beef is that it could have been so much better. I feel a bit let down.
  • Evil Male character does great acting that I really enjoyed. Very believable acting, watched it a few times, and interesting court trial in the movie.
  • Although quite lengthy, it was well worthwhile watching. It held both my wife's and my attention to the end. The show ended at midnight, which is way past us old folk's bed time, so it had to be good. I wish it was available on VHS or DVD. I'd buy it right now. My wife talked about it all day at work.
  • qunb129 July 2000
    This was one of the best mini series that I have seen...this guy was a real nut case.....just too bad it was a true story..the boys who played the sons were excellent actors..Im trying to find this on tape...if you can help please let me know!
  • CherCee13 September 2019
    Warning: Spoilers
    This is a miniseries based on the late, great Ann Rue's book by the same name. Brad Cunningham is a total psycho and it is horrifying that this is a true story. The only beef I have with this movie is that Annette O'Toole is credited as Cheryl Keeton Cunningham. In real life, Cheryl never used the name Cunningham. She was a lawyer and had earned her degree with her maiden name, and she kept it when she married.
  • steph_hhh8322 August 2001
    This is a good movie. Even for a long movie. You can always find it on lifetime for women. I give this a 10/10. The husband was a complete nut and i'm glad he got caught. It was nice of his girlfriend to take care of the kids.
  • Phillim21217 July 2017
    Based on a tragic event, and urgent societal crisis. Compelling subject.

    But it's the Groundhog Day of violence against women movies. Two repetitive notes alternate throughout the film: husband/boyfriend indicates either (humorlessly) 'charming' or (inexplicably) 'psycho', wife/girlfriend indicates either 'charmed' or 'terrified'. Sprinkle a soupçon of children in peril every so often. Repeat. Repeat. Repeat with sledgehammer.

    So it comes on TV late one night and you watch for nothing better to do. It's a long way to go but claims to be based on a true crime so you want to see what happens. Production values are good enough, so you wait for the action to honor the real victims with something like verisimilitude, but are only truly horrified when, after two hours, it says 'to be continued . . .'

    So you watch the two-hour conclusion. Same dogged, humorless, oppressive scripting; same dogged, humorless, oppressive performances. And the pace . . . what pace? Great actors aren't great by being obedient employees slobbering for a good job evaluation -- less-than-masterful writing and directing require *aggressive* collaboration from actors, and that takes courage and talent, and commitment to something like art, making the world a better place -- junk like that.

    Somebody apparently once told the leading man he's hot, and need not work too hard or think too deeply. Lots of 'smell-the-fart acting' (old soap-opera posing) in life-and-death moments. He gives a performance worthy of a cynical commercial television producer thumping his stubby finger hard to manipulate the pulse of the American broadcast television audience, which is what he has become.

    He's not bad enough to be funny, which is a pity.
  • Panterken11 August 2007
    Warning: Spoilers
    This film was terrible in every way. The acting was downright terrible ( and I mean terrible). Especially the hysterical shouting wife was terrible and the Oh-I'm-so-mean husband shouldn't be allowed to ever 'act' again. There is no pacing, the movie takes ridiculous turns and the plot is filled with stupid moral lessons for the non-intelligent viewer. Everything is so over the top it was almost funny. I say almost, because the film depressed me completely by it's badness. Subtlety is seriously lacking in this movie. Every time the evil husband gets screen time a 'darth Vader' like tune is played. Like that isn't bad enough, it's the same tune every time. This is just one of the elements what makes this film a C-film. Stay away from this at all costs.