‘MIRROR MIRROR’ (1990) and the Strange Disappearance of Rainbow Harvest

I discovered Mirror Mirror quite by accident a number of years ago, and I couldn’t believe I hadn’t heard about this 1990 horror gem. With a “who’s who” of actors and a cool plot, this nostalgic film deserves a second look. 

Mirror Mirror stars the up-and-coming Rainbow Harvest (Old Enough (1984) as Megan Gordon, a more punk version of Lydia Deetz; a teenage girl who is unlikely to fit in while attending her brand-new suburban high school. She wears leather jackets like armor, bold eye makeup that brings to mind Siouxsie Sioux, and dyed black hair that stands out amongst her blonde and brunette jock and cheerleader-type peers. She’s Hot Topic-cool way before the iconic store was a thing. 

Mirror Mirror

Megan has been unwillingly transplanted to this school to have a fresh start by her newly widowed mom, Susan Gordon, played to perfection by the incredible Karen Black (House of 1000 Corpses (2003). At the beginning of the film, you get a flashback sequence to set up the story and discover that this old, rambly house the Gordons are moving into comes with more than a nicely kept yard – it includes an authentic, demon-possessed piece of furniture. 

Karen Black

Despite the best efforts of the town’s realtor and local antique dealer (I had to do a double take the first time I watched this film…and yes, it’s indeed an aging Yvonne De Carlo (The Munsters (1964); still beautiful (despite the frumpy wardrobe her character inhabits!) to remove the offending piece, it patiently awaits its next victim.

The possessed piece of decor is, in fact, an oversized, full-length, ornate wooden mirror that looks right at home in the old-fashioned house. It’s a massive antique that has remained there for decades, dusty and covered. Megan warms up to the old mirror and asks her mom to purchase the piece to keep in her bedroom. Her mother acquiesces.

As Megan starts at her new school, most of the kids are predictably bullies, except one, the friendly Nikki Chandler (Kristin Dattilo: Dexter (2008), who immediately takes Megan under her wing. (Sidebar: Nikki’s boyfriend is played by Ricky Paull Goldin, who also stars as Scott in the 1988 remake of The Blob!)

As the movie progresses, the haunted mirror begins to sink its claws into Megan, acting as a conduit to make her wishes and fantasies come true in real life. This leads to some pretty cool practical kill scenes. There are even some callbacks and references to other films here – I noticed one line that referenced the classic Stephen King film, Carrie. I love the scenes from the mirror’s perspective, especially one truly weird moment when Megan is kind of … making out with the mirror as it bleeds. Creepy. I love it! 

Though the middle drags a bit, this movie is a lot of fun to watch. As the possessed mirror works through the teenager and Megan sees what she can do with her new powers of possession, things begin to spiral out of control quickly. Once Megan sees the damage she is doing as the mirror’s co-pilot in killing, she tries desperately to halt the carnage. Naturally, chaos ensues.

The movie does end with an unexpectedly cool twist, and after a recent rewatch I remembered how much I liked the ending. It’s creative and unlikely, and though I could imagine it ending several different ways, this ending is absolutely awesome and the perfect bookend to this weird, demonic, supernatural journey!

After watching this movie for the first time a number of years ago, I Googled the beautiful star, Rainbow Harvest, to see what else I could watch her in. As it turns out, not much. Harvest’s IMDB credits only go up to 1991, the year after Mirror Mirror came out. Though her career began with a bang, including parts in popular series like Miami Vice and 21 Jump Street (where she met her husband, actor Kevin Wixted ) Harvest seemed to completely fall off the radar after that. My curiosity about this talented woman was indeed piqued.

I began searching in earnest for information about the actor with the cool name (and according to online sources, her real, honest-to-goodness, birth-given moniker) and came up empty. I even found a couple of fan blogs with entries devoted to Harvest, wondering what she is doing now and critiquing her small but impressive body of work.

There are no recent photos of Rainbow Harvest. She is not on social media. According to Wikipedia, she left the film industry entirely in the early ‘90s after a bit of behind-the-scenes work and ultimately received a couple of college degrees. This article takes a closer look at Harvest’s career and the promising trajectory it began with. The author ultimately decides that Harvest faded into a private, normal existence, but it’s unknown if her successful run had ended in Hollywood or if she had made the decision that acting just wasn’t right for her.

Either way, though, I’m hopeful she is living her best life out of the spotlight. Her early performances offer a glimpse into an extremely talented person that likely could have had a successful career. With her porcelain complexion and wide eyes, it’s no surprise that the young Harvest was often compared to Winona Ryder. 

I hope Harvest is doing well, and in her honor, I think Mirror Mirror deserves some love for the entertaining, fun, star-studded little horror gem that it is! After my most recent rewatch, I discovered there are not one but two sequels to this film, giving me more time in the Mirror Mirror universe! 

Stream the original film as well as the sequels for free on Tubi, or search the internet for a DVD or Blu-ray copy, which are out there somewhere, but may be tricky to find! 

 

About Christi Bandy

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