Well, we open on the credits, with Charles Band’s name right there and
everything. With the actor’s
names and some techno music, pretty lame if you ask me, but you didn’t so
there. Ooh, and Debra Mayer is in
this one. So we have a true double
feature after all.
Some reanimator type pics of skulls and eyes and teeth and things. And some Romanian names, never saw THAT before in a Full Moon production (I kid, of course). Written by Matthew Jason Walsh, directed by Victoria Sloane. All righty then.
And the actual movie opens with a car driving along a deserted highway, in a very blue moonlight. Probably day for night.
Inside the car, the heavily accented cab driver asks where everyone is from and stuff, and it is generally revealed that they are going to a funeral, no one is very happy about this, and Debra Mayer is, shock horror, playing a bitch again. The others are blonde woman, short haired guy and other guy.
They’re all going to a private viewing, since “technically the funeral home is closed.” They’re worried about the dead guy’s family’s reaction to them, since, uh, the family hated them or something.
Debra Mayer asks why Calvin (the dead guy)’s family hates them anyway, and short-haired guy says that they are the ones who got Calvin “into all the paranormal stuff” and that sure explains it to me. Even though it is explained that Calvin did “Coke” (I like Dr. Pepper myself), and that none of these four have seen him since high school (some time ago, by the look of it) still, the family of Calvin blame these four for his death.
They also fill us in that Calvin was doing research in Haiti into voodoo, and the official story is that he accidentally drowned, but short hair thinks he was killed by a jealous lover. He has different murder methods for either gender, and the others find this provocative.
Debra Mayer is actually less bitchy now, and feels sorry for the guy (or so it seems).
And we’re now at some old castle, where the four of them are following their flashlights and searching…uh, for the funeral home I guess, but this sure looks like the run-down part of town. The part where Dracula lives. In his shirtsleeves, yelling at those damned kids about how youth is wasted on the young.
The quartet pauses and notes how they feel creeped out and stuff. Someone sees someone on a balcony, but we don’t get to see anything other than the first someone pointing at the second someone, who turns out to be not there. (“Maybe it was the wind,” offers Debra Mayer.) Everyone agrees that saying their final respects and immediately scramming after is a really great plan. The cabbie appears and asks, what now, and short hair says he’ll call him when it’s time to go. So, we got Short Hair (the leader), Other Guy (the rich guy), Blonde (the blonde), and Debra Mayer (the non blonde). And they all walk toward what one supposes looks most like a funeral home in this rather gothic locale. Did I mention the lightning strikes? Silly me, there are lightning strikes off in the distance. All we need is Count Floyd asking if we’re scared. (Answer: not yet.)
Anyway, as our intrepid quartet go to the vault, or whatever other location is next on the shooting schedule, a trio of youths appear and watch as the other four disappear into some mausoleum thing.
The three note the other four going inside, and Brunette Guy says the four are people who fly all over the world to sleep in haunted houses, while he, who has a football scholarship, is “pumping gas at Marley’s.”
Okay, here is where we enter the realm of science fiction. A paranormal research student flies all over the world, and a football player (a scholarship player) pumps gas? Be careful of your cerebrum! It might pop at this revelation.
Accompanying Football Guy (snicker) is Creepy Blonde Guy and Long-Haired Blonde Gal (Longhair).
Football Guy reveals that his plan is to mess with the quartet. Creepy says that’s kind of sick, but Football Guy has a solid motivation…seems Short Hair has sex with lots of women, including Football Guy’s ex. Wow, move over Shakespeare! Football Guy says that they’re here to mess with the other four, anyone who wants to leave, etc. He’s going to use Short Hair’s skull as a keg. Not sure how that would work, cause it kind of sounds more like murder rather than mere “messing with,” but eh, we’ve got another hour to fill. WhatEVER.
Cut to inside, as Short Hair and pals are wandering among candle lit coffins, asking if anyone (living) is around. No one is, so they banter pretty uselessly for awhile, until Debra Mayer remembers that this place was memorable for some reason that she can’t remember. (“I blame Nutra-Sweet,” she says.) I’m sure if it was the scene of mass zombie attacks that this info would, I’d hope if I was her friend, ring a couple of louder bells.
Blonde fills us in a bit more by saying that “this place” was built on what “used to be Blood Prison.” Wow, what an original name. She then explains that this is where the puritans killed witches and things until people said, Hey, stop that. So they built the funeral home on top of the old prison, which never sounds like a good idea, even if it was a McDonald’s Play Place, but even more, they didn’t get all the bodies out of the prison before it opened up again as a funeral home. “Folklore is my bag,” explains Blonde.
They go off to find the viewing room, while elsewhere, the other three find an open door and poke on in.
But no matter, we cut to the other four finding Calvin’s body, and the music makes this amazingly abrupt shift from nondescript to happy/sad sorry-he’s-dead stuff. And they’re all weepy over poor Calvin, alas, poor Calvin, I knew him not, Horatio, blah blah blah.
They’re all sad about Calvin, and so on, and so forth, and Rich Guy says, Whoah, too bad, and touches Calvin’s hand, and Calvin—shock, horror, yawn—springs to life and complains about the lack of swell whiskey. He then laughs. You know, I suspect Calvin wasn’t quite dead!
Turns out I was right, and Short Hair was in on the whole thing. (Who wants to bet this is some kind of ironic foreshadowing?) There are some (soft) hard feelings toward Calvin, but it is rightly deduced that Short Hair was the brains behind the whole bit. And Short Hair reveals that, as of 8 PM yesterday, his dad owns this whole place.
It further turns out the whole scheme was to get everyone together, because together, they could set in motion the machine to loose evil upon the world! Ha ha ha! Uh, no. They didn’t say that. Actually, the death of one was the only way Short Hair could think of to get everyone together, as, when he tried text messaging and other communication methods, everyone had excuses and stuff. Something serious like a death would cause people to change their plans.
Everyone seems pretty relieved and forgiving…except the other three (FootBall Guy, etc). They see that the whole thing was a fake, but Football Guy is still wanting some form of revenge or another.
Short Hair offers to take the Quintet on a tour of the facility. With any luck, someone will say this was a “Hell Asylum” and we can all go home, not only wise, but, if we hedged our bets (and knew a bit about Charles Band) a little bit poorer too. In spirit. Richer in money, maybe.
The Quintet goes into the Old Prison, and the Trio notes this. The Quintet goes into the prison part, and Debra Mayer complains how she hates being “back here” again. There’s a tad of wonderment expressed by the others, before Short Hair says that there are important things to discuss. Like online bill paying and stuff like that, I hope! Because I need advice in those areas.
Actually, Short Hair says the important thing is “a cool million, in cash” (there’s an echo in here). Blonde pronounces this typical Short Hair excrement from farm animals, but Short Hair says that his dad’s paper (apparently some kind of tabloid) has just got the top spot in distribution, and he (the Dad) is planning on having a big party to celebrate this unmitigated triumph.
The others all recall some of the tabloid’s triumphant stories (typical Weekly World Stuff without the humor), while some bluesy piano plays (for some unknown reason other than the sound man fell asleep), but Short Hair still has more to relate to his friends.
Turns out, the paper will pay ONE MILLION DOLLARS to anyone who can bring physical evidence of the “talon key.”
I was afraid I’d missed something; thankfully, Rich Guy asks what the Talon Key is. Blonde says according to legend (yawn) the Talon Key is guarded by some old dead guys, but it is supposed to open “that door, right there.” And she points, and we see a still photo of a door. Oooo, scary!
Short Hair interjects to note that the “some old dead guys” were in fact the three executioners at the prison, and the townsfolk were “freaked out” by what this trio (the Dead Trio, not the folks led by Football Guy) did, that they built a special cell to hold all the evil in it. Oh, and the three dead guys and the key were never found. And Short Hair’s dad is going to charge people to come to this castle and look for the key, and he’s going to make lots of money with this scheme.
Debra Mayer asks, then, why does Short Hair need them?
Well, Short Hair has a plan. As he is a family of staff of the paper, he’s not allowed to win. So, the prize money is for the other four, as his gift to them. The others say, How so? He outlines that the search for this sort of thing has been the focus of their (semi) adult lives. Rich Guy says he doesn’t believe in the Talon Key, and Short Hair opines that his dad doesn’t believe either, hence the large cash award for something that (in theory) doesn’t exist. No payments, ever! It’s brilliant.
…let me get this straight. The focus of their lives has been to search for something they don’t believe exists? Youth is wasted on the young.
Anyway, Short Hair, on the third or fifth hand, does believe in such things, and if he (or pals of his) find this key, well, old Dad would be too flustered to say Short Hair any nays. Make sense to you? Yeah, I thought so.
Short Hair says he has had an extra set of keys made, and Blonde thinks Short Hair has the whole thing figured out. O…kay. Let me try. Short Hair has made copies of keys, which will pass for the Talon key? Uh, and one of his friends will find this key, give it to Dad, and win the million. So…the fake key will open the door? I’d assume that would be part of the proof….
If I’m guessing right (and I’m probably not), why hasn’t anyone else tried the old fake key bit?
Well, to go on, Short Hair brings out a light wood box, and someone asks if the assembled folk are going “to play Parcheesi?”
Turns out, the wooden box is a ouija board, and even the most level-headed of this Quintet are slightly freaked by this appearance. Short Hair says it’s the only way.
There’s some bickering, during which it is revealed that, the more people farting around on a ouija board, the safer it is, as the evil forces, uh, have their evil, er, divided by the number of participants. I guess. (The Trio observe this stuff happening and being discussed.)
Blonde notes the theory that the Ouija Board only unleashes the thoughts of the subconsciousness, and Rich Guy says Parker Bros (makers of Monopoly) wouldn’t want to market such a game that is evil, yet they do. (Apparently this quija board comes from Toys R Us.)
Short Hair asks Rich Guy to put his hand on the board, and Rich Guy refuses. Short Hair is pretty ticked off that no one wants to summon up any demons or puke blood and stuff. He says that the five of them are the greatest students of the supernatural ever, and they are wimping out.
Greatest…no, not going to say anything.
Short Hair asks for Blonde’s assistance, which she is very reluctant to give. He puts her hand on the pointer, and she’s still reluctant. Short Hair brings out “another element” of this experiment (which we can’t see), and Debra Mayer says, “Oh, we’re gonna play Pictionary?”
Short Hair says, well, not really. It’s a notepad, apparently. When the pointer stops at a letter, it will be written down. It might be gibberish, but it might be a clue, so they should write it down.
Blonde asks, “What exactly does that mean, ‘If the conditions are right’?”
Huh? I don’t remember anyone saying that—stop jumping ahead in the script, Blonde! Short Hair tells her to relax. And the pointer moves to something (no one says what letter it is) and we cut to a statue of a lion or something bleeding from the eyes. Boy, those Parker Brothers really knew how to give value to a customer! One letter, and we’ve got bleeding statues. The blood continues pouring down the stature and finally drips on the ground, where we show some cheap ghoul mask under the ground having blood dripped on it.
Back with the five, they all decide they’re in on this scheme (appropo of what, I don’t know) and everyone puts a hand on the quija pointer. Except Rich Guy, who will write the letters down. As the pointer continues to move, the ghoul wakes up from the earth and rises out of the ground. And another one, after that.
Back with the Quints, they’re still getting letters. And a third ghoul rises. The ghouls all seem to be wearing armor of some kind, and they have weapons too (a mace, a scythe)…now, I could have sworn this was supposed to be a Puritan prison, but I guess you gotta go with what your costume people can get.
Our letters so far are G, A, T, E, and folks are pretty freaked. And more ghouls continue to rise. I should point out that the ghouls are all outside, so it’s understandable that the Quintet members are merely “scared.”
Next letter is a W, then an A. I guessed Y would be next, and I was right. We see some mound of earth where, one supposes, the chief of all ghouls is still waiting to buy a vowel or something before he can rise with the rest.
Outside, the Trio watch as some computer generated effect seeps out the window they’re peeking in and wafts off to its destiny. And the ghouliest of ghouls finally wakes up and shakes the dirt off and…some more ghouls wake up too. We actually get repeated footage.
And more ghouls wake up. I gather there are rather a lot of ghouls. I kind of got that, honestly, I’m not sure I need to see them all get out of their graves, rub their eyes, and ask what’s for breakfast.
Among the Quints, the lights start flickering and everyone except Blonde leaps up and asks what’s going down here, exactly, please. Another video effect bothers the Trio outside (looks like the same footage again) and we get a shot of Blonde (the Quintet one) looking woozy or possessed or something along those lines. Debra Mayer and Rich Guy are ready to leave, now, and Short Hair says let’s put it to a vote. He counts himself and Calvin in the let’s stay group, Debra Mayer and Rich Guy in the let’s leave. That leaves the tie-breaker to Blonde.
Well, we’ve got running time to fill, so we cut to the Trio outside, wondering what’s going on, theorizing that Short Hair has rigged all the stunts, but noting that ONE MILLION DOLLARS. They decide to leave the window before they get caught, and Creepy pauses to take a swig from his bottomless can o’beer. I need one of those.
Inside, Blonde says (in demon resonator voice), “Sutra, sutra, gay me goss. Sutra pellago.” Don’t know that language myself, neither does anyone else; Calvin wonders if Blonde is epileptic, Short Hair says he’s known her for years and she isn’t. Debra Mayer and Rich Guy say, Come on Short Hair, this is all part of your stupid joke, right? “How long are you going to make her do this?” Debra Mayer asks.
Short Hair says this is no joke, but Rich Guy points out the whole Calvin-is-dead-no-not-really bit, and Short Hairs’ words tend to fall, barren, on deaf ears. This discussion goes on for quite some time before they remember that, if Blonde is not part of some hoax, what do they do for her? Does she need a doctor?
Short Hair calls Blonde by name, and she snaps out of her trance. Just then, Calvin sees “something” (we catch a tiny glimpse as well) out the window, but when they all run to see, it isn’t there. (A closer inspection on slow motion shows: nothing much.)
Again, they think this is a joke, and I’m starting to think someone should die bloodily to get this whole “an elaborate hoax” bit out of the way as it is getting old.
Anyway, Calvin says it was a guy or a guy-like object, and Short Hair says they should look outside to see who it might be. Debra Mayer says the wisest course would be to call 911 for the police. Short Hair says that’s a no go, as he stole the keys here and that would mean el trouble grande with the pater familias. Debra Mayer says they can walk back to town, and Short Hair reminds them that this would a) take a long time and b) get them wet, as there is a storm coming. Wow, originality, ahoy!
Short Hair and Calvin will check on the outside visitor, which Rich Guy notes is convenient, as he still believes Short Hair and Calvin are in on some kind of elaborate joke. He will stay with the ladies, and Short Hair says if Blonde gets worse, they should call him (Short Hair). Not sure what he can do (other than call the limo back, something he has refused to do so far).
Outside, the ghouls are all assembling. Uh huh. There they are. It’s all rather dark, but there must be, oh, surely, somewhere in the neighborhood of, oh, nearly three of them.
Remember our Trio? Well, Creepy reveals he was probably the thing that Calvin saw from the window, and Football Guy says he (Creepy) should stop ruining stuff by being glimpsed and things like that. If the ghouls killed these three now, that would eliminate a few threads.
The three discuss various things which I am sure are of vast import to them, but their interest to me is, at best, ephemeral. (It’s mostly about not quitting now, etc.) Creepy is sent off to get the truck, while Football Guy and Longhair will frighten the excrement (I paraphrase here) out of the Quintet. Not sure how frightening Longhair will be, but whatever. As Creepy leaves, we see the secret to his beer supply: he’s carrying around a cooler. And he’s not sharing!
Inside, Calvin and Short Hair traipse through one of the rooms. They lock the door and Short Hair takes the opportunity to note that Blonde’s trance wasn’t part of the gag. Calvin says that, since Blonde is hot for Short Hair, she did it on her own to impress him. Short Hair, though, is genuinely concerned about her. He thinks they did something to her with the séance, though he stops short of a supernatural explanation. (In the background of this scene appear to be some movie set lights.) Calvin notes that it was probably some drugs that Blonde took that did it (apparently Debra Mayer deals coke, and no, not THE Debra Mayer). Short Hair, though, thinks the locale has “bad karma.”
He also notes that he has some issues with his dad, as he wants to prove that the supernatural is real and his dad is wrong about how it isn’t. Calvin and he have a discussion about the group, and it turns out that Short Hair is really the only true believer left. The others are into it for other reasons.
Short Hair is pretty put out by this, so he puts in a call to the limo so that everyone but him can leave. Calvin says there is no legend, no Talon key, none of that, that Dad made it up to sell papers, but Short Hair is going to prove it all anyway. He asks only that Calvin take care of Blonde and make sure she gets medical attention.
Cut to Creepy on his way to the truck (good plan, by the way, sending the beer drinker to drive). Suddenly, a video effect possesses him, and he staggers back against the wall. He stays there while a ghoul shows up. Creepy says (in demon voice), “We are free to walk the earth again. Executioner!” And the ghoul swings his little scythe at Creepy’s neck, while we cut (ha ha) to Rich Guy doing some more drinking. Hey, drinks all around!
He offers a drink to Blonde, making a joke which I didn’t catch, and Debra Mayer notes that the joke wasn’t funny so I guess I didn’t miss anything. The two of them banter about how this is A JOKE or A SALES CAMPAIGN, and when Blonde is asked her opinion, she says, “I don’t know what you’re talking about.” Me neither.
Debra Mayer and Rich Guy talk about how this whole joke thing has really screwed them over, and maybe Calvin and Short Hair just don’t like them (“That would explain a lot”). Debra Mayer is going to do some coke (not THE Debra Mayer), which is like raw steak in the lion’s den. I’m sure the ghouls hate illegal drugs like crazy.
Rich Guy asks for some, but she refuses. They banter some more, and some more after that, and even more after that. Some family history about Short Hair, then Rich Guy hits on Debra Mayer, and they (as the bluesy piano starts again) decide to get a room together if you know what I mean and I think you do. In response to their concerns, Blonde says “I’ll be fine,” but she has that haggard look that one has when one is possessed. Oops, hope I didn’t spoil things here.
Rich Guy tells Debra Mayer to be sure to bring the coke as they leave, and she notes, “Who says romance is dead?” but I think she’s being ironical here.
Outside, yes, it’s the subplot that had critics raving, “the time waster of the year!” and “historic in its unimportance!” as we cut to Football Guy and Longhair. She’s still worried about police, I’m still wondering why she’s even there. Football Guy is still fixated on getting some kind of revenge.
Longhair gets a video possession, however. Football Guy didn’t see it happen, but seems put out by the result (standing stock still and chanting). Longhair repeats the same stuff that Blonde said earlier, I’m kind of distracted by the fact that she seems to have a soul patch (a beard like Shaggy from Scooby Doo).
Football Guy thinks she’s being difficult and leaves her behind. And a ghoul, I’m guessing the same one that killed Creepy (because he holds his scythe so we can see the bloodstains on the edge), approaches in the slowest motion I’ve seen around these parts since…well, since a long time. This is practically glacial. And he kills Longhair.
Debra Mayer and Rich Guy find a room, and she just happens to note that she doesn’t like rats and other creepy-crawlies. In Hell Asylum, nobody (including Debra Mayer) got naked at all; are we about to get lucky here?
They ask why there’s a bed in a funeral home, and the theory floated is that it was the caretaker’s quarters. They note the unappetizing nature of the room but also note that there are few if any alternatives. They banter a bit saucily (trust me, you’re missing nothing) and the blues pianist starts again and they begin to go at it.
Back with Blonde, there’s all kinds of fog swirling around her and she’s chanting again. Two ghouls show up. “Ah, executioners,” she says in demon voice. “Have you come now to kill me again? There are others. Before the night is through, one of us will use his body to escape.” She goes limp then, and the ghouls chain her up in the cell. Then they stand back and watch, apparently happy with a chaining job well done.
Elsewhere, sappy ballad plays as Debra Mayer and Rich Guy are making out. She’s in a bra she…wasn’t wearing with her spaghetti-strap dress…so, I guess nobody signed the nudity clause here. Oh well. Rich Guy takes some more of the coke, and this really puts Debra Mayer in a bad mood. She stands up from the bed (her crotch goes right into the camera—sorry, guess I should have pointed out that it is an underwear-clad crotch) and puts on a nightgown that, uh, the caretaker must have left there. Uh huh. She’s mad that Rich Guy only cares about the coke, so she’s going to the bathroom.
Once there, the video effect possesses her, now. She starts the same chanting, and either a demon growls in answer or that’s the toilet backing up again.
Still chanting, she goes out to Rich Guy who figures she is succumbing to peer pressure (everyone’s chanting). However, she (out of sight of the camera) apparently begins pleasuring him so he forgets any qualms he might have had.
Hours later (it seems), Calvin finally returns to the ouija room where everyone else was left. He can’t find anyone, since they’re either possessed, having sex, or both. He walks around, walks into another room, and then calls out for Rich Guy. As he departs, we pull back and see that there is a severed arm in the chains that til recently held Blonde. You know what my guess is, what’s yours?
Apparently, he didn’t see any of the gore, as he walks around more ticked off than concerned. He walks into a room full of candles and coffins. He thinks, however, that Rich Guy is hiding in one of the coffins. He opens one, then another, finding nothing each time, until the video effect possesses him too.
He starts chanting, the two coffins he didn’t check (what are the odds?) open and ghouls come out. Yawn. They sloooooowly advance on him and basically kill him to death.
Elsewhere, Short Hair has finally gotten the limo driver on his phone. Sure seems like either everything takes forever, or the last five minutes (about twenty, movie-wise) have been very busy.
Anyway, as Short Hair is chewing out the limo driver, etc, a blurry figure in the background shows up and staggers around a bit. Since the figure is dressed, I guess it isn’t Rich Guy, so it must be Calvin. Actually, it turns out to be Football Guy. Remember him? Me neither. He asks for Short Hair’s wallet, which Short Hair gives, then he says he’s going to break a lot of Short Hair’s bones.
He goes off to count the money in the wallet and is disappointed that there’s only a hundred dollars there.
”We agreed on sixty,” says Short Hair.
Football Guy notes the storm and says a little “overtime” may be warranted, so Short Hair agrees that he can keep the extra forty. Football Guy asks how he, Short Hair, liked Football Guy’s performance, and aside from the language Short Hair thought it was fine.
No idea what these two have cooked up together, and not sure I really care, honestly. But it is clear we’ve been led down the garden path yet again, just as the others were when they thought Calvin was dead.
It seems, Football Guy was supposed to “jump” Short Hair in front of the others and beat him up, to prove that…uh…[thinks quickly] cats have pink skin on the inside of their ears, because it is a…warning [good one] about…um…leaving CD-ROMs around that might be important. You should always know where your CD-ROMS are! If you need them and you can’t find them, that would be troublesome. So, cats can have regular skin inside their ears now. Thanks cats!
Anyway, Short Hair and Football Guy talk about what they should do now, and Football Guy says they can leave via his pickup truck. There is more talk, including the difference between a “slut” and an “amateur.”
Clearly, Short Hair and Football Guy have a lot of history somewhere. Aren’t you fascinated? Me neither, so it’s a good thing that we cut back to Possessed Debra Mayer and Rich Guy getting it on. Apparently Rich Guy is well satisfied (PDM keeps chanting) and he goes off to take a shower (tugging on his underpants like they were off, but they were clearly never off. Obviously, the nudity clauses were not only not signed, I don’t even think they were offered.)
(Oh, there is monk chanting on the soundtrack, by the way.)
PDM sits on the bed, and behind her appears another ghoul. He kills her. Nice, one supposes, of him to wait until after she’d given Rich Guy some good pseudo sex. Nice for Rich Guy, anyway.
Speaking of him, he pokes his head out of the (surprisingly modern) shower to ask if PDM said something, and getting no answer, pokes his head back in. A ghoul opens the bathroom door, and we cut to Short Hair looking for people in the depths of the castle. Oh, Football Guy is with him. They come across Calvin, now splashed with blood (given that the two ghouls were wailing on him pretty good earlier, I’m surprised he’s still in once piece). Short Hair, thinking this is a trick, says it is time for Calvin to leave with them as the joke is over now and no one thinks it is funny anymore.
Calvin starts chanting, but they all still think it is a joke, and Short Hair says they’ll all leave soon in Football Guy’s pickup truck. Short Hair and Football Guy leave, and Calvin’s eyes shock horror flick open. No heart attacks out there in the audience, then? Oh good, I was so worried.
Elsewhere, I guess the ghoul thought killing Rich Guy in the shower was too gay or something, so Rich Guy strides back into the bedroom (still wearing his underpants…you don’t suppose it was all filmed at once, do you?). He’s looking for Debra Mayer. Not seeing her, he grabs the coke and has a bit, then sees Debra Mayer all dead like in a corner. Thinking this is perfectly straight then, and not gay, a ghoul pops up and (off screen) repeatedly plunges his sharp dagger into Rich Guy’s manly chest.
Elsewhere, Short Hair and Football Guy note that they can’t find anyone else. Short Hair figures someone brought some drugs and everyone is off somewhere strung out. Football Guy wonders if someone is trying to “get back” at Short Hair.
Short Hair dismisses that, saying, “No one knows what’s going on.”
”That makes two of us,” says Football Guy and I have to hold up my hand too. Football Guy says maybe Short Hair set up things too well, like Dead Calvin, the Séance, and the Fake Contest.
”What do you mean?” asks Short Hair.
Well, I’m not sure what’s meant. I think Football Guy indicates that he and his pals found the key right away, so obviously it isn’t a real contest, or something. Short Hair says that his Dad is going to pay a million dollars for the Talon Key. Football Guy thinks this sounds kind of cool.
Just then, the lights go out again. Boy they need to invest in some higher brand fuses, I mean dollars to donuts it will only be better in the end. Short Hair calls on his pals to quit messing around, as he will not call the limo, and Football Guy admits he is freaked out, just as a video effect possesses him and tosses him to the floor.
He starts chanting, Short Hair notes that this “is neither the time or the place” for these sorts of shenanigans.
”You have called us, and so we have come,” says Football Guy (in demon voice). “We are many, and the executioners are few. But they will not let us leave in these vessels.”
”What are you talking about, Bill. Snap out of it.”
”There is no escape for us. The executioners will not let us leave. We are the denizens of this ground. And you are the one who has opened our prison doors. The executioners want you dead.”
”Who are you?”
”We are who you asked to come,” says Demon Football Guy. “We are the ones buried on these grounds.”
”You’re the witches?”
Before more of this fascinating ride down Exposition Blvd. Can continue, two ghouls like party crashes rise behind Football Guy. Short Hair thinks running away is a good plan, and executes this plan; the ghouls, in their patented slow-motion-o-rama, slit Football Guy’s throat and apparently drip something unpleasant from themselves onto him. Nothing gay in that of course.
Short Hair, meanwhile, is racing through underground corridors. He runs back to where Calvin was in the coffin, but of course Calvin isn’t there. Calvin, the sneaky bastard, waits until Short Hair’s back is turned, then he jumps him, throttles him, throws him to the ground and starts bearing on him. He punches Short Hair so many times that we have long since obtained the point and in fact are starting to resent having to polish it every day. Short Hair, having been beaten thoroughly, nevertheless easily tosses Calvin off and runs away. Calvin, shaking off this complete tossing off, runs after and grabs Short Hair again.
Short Hair tosses him off again, only this time, instead of being flung against the coffin, he’s flung against a church pew. That’ll learn him!
Well, maybe not, as he runs to give fight again. Short Hair grabs an enormous salad fork and…doesn’t stab Calvin with it. Read that again, it’s quicker than me repeating it. Instead, he and Calvin have a sort of tussle over it. More tussling, until finally Short Hair wises up and stabs Calvin in the heart with it. This makes Calvin spit up ink and generally act inconvenienced in the extreme. In case you missed it, it gets repeated about a hundred times.
Short Hair then runs into dead Rich Guy, who backhands Short Hair and then, conveniently, disappears. Longhair then pops out of a coffin, but Short Hair dispatches her before she can even “rar!” properly. Soon, Creepy, Blonde, Debra Mayer and Rich Guy (having stepped back into the action) rise from their coffins and go to pursue Short Hair. He decides to leave his lucky stick behind, the fool. Football Guy joins the throng and Short Hair runs away some more. As more monk singing appears on the soundtrack, the ghouls shuffle along as slowly as they possibly can. Even slower than that, too. I suppose if we can’t have lots of pointless dialogue at this point, we might as well have shuffling. And we get a lot of that.
Short Hair runs back into the basement/dungeon and locks the door, without looking behind him (always a bad idea). Behind him, there are all kinds of ghouls shuffling along, while from the other side of the door all his friends tell him that this was all just a big joke. Short Hair isn’t buying it, so they try to insult him into opening the door. If he was smart, he’d challenge them to a footrace.
They keep yelling for him to let them in, and he notes the “three executioners” are inside with him. He refuses to let his dead pals in so, they…break down the door anyway. Wow, that was running time well spent. Short Hair runs past one of the ghouls, easily evading the blow from the scythe as the former pals shamble inside. And I mean shamble. These guys make George Romero’s zombies look like marathon sprinters.
Short Hair runs up to the third ghoul and rips a key off of his armor. Third ghoul tries rather haplessly to stop him, but Short Hair gets the key and dashes off some more. He evades the other two and runs to the door and puts the key in it. (His dead pals have covered, oh, it must be nearly fifteen inches during all this.) White light streams out of the door’s window, and everyone who isn’t Short Hair starts having glowing red eyes. For some reason I can’t fathom, Short Hair doesn’t open the door, but instead…runs back to the ghouls. One of them gets a lucky swipe on his shoulder. Short Hair is now officially wounded and completely trapped. Way to go, Short Hair.
His dead pals now appear at the entrance to the cage (they’re standing in front of the door with the key), and the three ghouls turn around to look at the dead pals.
And the door with the key slowly swings open, filling the room with bright light. Video effects appear on the three ghouls, and then on the dead pals, and then everyone glows a bit and vanishes. Short Hair, you are one lucky SOB. Good guessing, there.
Longhair also glows and vanishes in her coffin, just for those of you who remember her and think she’ll be a surprise at the end. Fooled you! And Short Hair staggers out of the front door, grabbing his bleeding shoulder and pretty much acting like someone not long for this world. He runs into the limo driver, who doesn’t seem at all concerned that Short Hair’s clutching his (own) bloody shoulder.
”So, that joke you were telling me you were going to play on your friends…how did that go?” asks the limo driver. And we fade to black, no doubt utterly stunned into submission by the poetic, elegiac nature of this ironic ending. Or so it was hoped by all.
We then get the credits, missing a couple of names…Kristof (Short Hair), Bill (Football Guy), Calvin (Calvin), Allie (Blonde), Rory (Rich Guy), Cat (Longhair), and Michele (Debra Mayer). I guess Creepy didn’t deserve his own credit? Whatta loser! He did get lots of beer though.
Like before, lots of Hungarian names in the credits. Nice closing credits music, sounds like some decent new-age type stuff, but less weeny or self-important than most new-age stuff.
Actually, the film processing credit mentions Romania, so I guess that is were this was shot. Sorry to Romania for not crediting them, sorry to Hungary for crediting them.
Yeah, filmed at Castel Film Studios, Romania. Bad call on my part for that.
So, the trailer is pretty stupid as well. Kind of covers the highlights but in an incoherent order. I mean, there was a progression of events in this movie (hard to call it a story, exactly) and the trailer just walks all over that.
The film is accompanied by a brief “making of” feature, in which the makeup guy and a few of the cast are interviewed about the film. It’s narrated by a guy who doesn’t have the right voice for it—he’s trying to sound kind of world-weary and at the same time trying to drum up interest, and he just sounds like your dopey younger brother narrating some video he shot of the dog.
In the making of, the first thing the make-up guy mentions is The Blind Dead series of films, and it’s a good thing he did, since the ghouls here were obviously drawn from those movies. Overall, the cast and make-up guy sound quite enthused about the whole thing, and they note that the film was shot in an actual prison. Their enthusiasm is nice but it really doesn’t make the film any better. I wonder why the director, producer, et al weren’t featured in this little document.
So, the film itself. How did we do?
On the right side, it’s got tons of atmosphere and some decent performances. The blood is understated (though it doesn’t fool anyone—these folks are being sprayed from a bottle) and even though the film is very darkly lit, it’s usually pretty easy to tell what’s going on.
On the wrong side, well, there’s nothing really wrong here. Some of the performances (Short Hair and Football Guy) are overly mannered and stiff, and there is a lot, and I mean a LOT of pointless discussion about, oh, Short Hair’s attractiveness, Rich Guy’s addictive nature, blah blah blah. And the whole subplot about Football Guy’s revenge, which turns out to be another joke, seemed to come from and go to nowhere.
Bingo, methinks. Talk is cheap, and if you’re running short, just have people jabber away for a while on anything. You can cut it to fit til you get your feature length film. And if it doesn’t really add anything, you can say it rounds out the characters.
I’m reminded, ultimately, of The Bunker, another movie that had atmosphere in spades but little else to go on. Prison of the Dead has a story, kind of, and it does move from A to B. There’s nothing here people have never seen before, and it’s well enough made that you could have it on for background and just watch when things got interesting (they do, now and then). The slow pace of it all doesn’t help much, and the fact that a dozen or so ghouls seem to awaken at the 25 minute mark, when there are only three, make it a bit less than coherent. Another less than coherent bit is the whole Football Guy subplot. It just added running time and a big spoonful of confusion. (Eg, Football Guy asked Short Hair about his “performance” and I couldn’t imagine what he was talking about. When did Short Hair, or anyone outside Football Guy's Trio, even see Football Guy or any performance out of him?)
So, yes or no? Hard to say. There’s nothing really bad here, nothing really good (apart from, sigh, the atmosphere) and nothing funny enough to make it a party film. It’s serious and earnest and just all too familiar. Watch it if you rent the double feature DVD and decide you want your money’s worth, otherwise it’s for completists who like horror movies, Debra Mayer, or both. Like its companion Hell Asylum, Prison of the Dead lacks only two things: a compelling reason to exist, and a compelling reason to watch.
I guess my best recommendation is, could be worse.
--June 25, 2005