Precocious is usually a term used to describe once former child actor Peter Billingsley. And yes, he stars in something other than "A Christmas Story." The little known Death Valley further cements Billingsley’s precociousness but is an otherwise forgettable thriller from 1982.
Horror icon Catherine Hicks plays Billingsley’s recently divorced Mom and she, her son, and her new boyfriend (Paul Le Mat) decide to take a road trip to Death Valley. This setup plays out like a long, drawn-out after-school special, as there is tension between son and his soon-to-be new stepfather.
As their trip progresses, a serial killer is on the loose in Death Valley, unbeknownst to the family. Yet Billingsley, who is sharp as nails, knows something is fishy and tries to warn everyone. The outlandish plot twists, including a babysitter that appears out of nowhere at the hotel the family is staying at, make "Death Valley" a laughable piece of 80’s slasher nostalgia.
Because "Death Valley" was filmed around the same time as "A Christmas Story", Peter Billingsley looks and acts exactly the same. In fact, his character could be interchangeable in both films; it’s his likeability that saves this film from being a total stinker.
An audio commentary with director Dick Richards is included here, as is the theatrical trailer and a brief TV spot. Interviews with cast members are unfortunately not part of the "Death Valley" Blu-ray.