Sunday, October 23, 2011

Ritual of Death, The (1990)

Directed by:
Fauzi Mansur

After attending a lecture on ancient Indians, actor Brad (Olair Coan) exits the theater, smoke fills the hallways, strong gusts of wind start from nowhere and he sees four Indians running under the stage. When he goes down to take a look, the Indians are doing some kind of ceremony which involves blowing smoke on each other and a well-dressed older man (Sérgio Hingst) in a bowler hat appears, tells him he wants "the book" and then his hand suddenly starts oozing green blood. One of the Indians grabs Brad's arm, and his hand starts oozing white blood. Then everyone disappears. Brad's weird friend Jim (Michael Kelly) shows up, brushes off his crazy story and tells him he wants to translate an Egyptian parchment for a theatre play ("a real exotic horror show!") he plans on writing and producing. The only problem is that the sacred text he wants to use as the basis is in the possession of the lecturer / librarian (Serafim Gonzales) and he supposedly keeps it hidden in the attic of the library. Brad's friend / the play's director Mickey (Tião Hoover) sneaks in, manages to find it and steals it. Supposedly, by altering the original text, you unleash a curse, Brad, Jim, Mickey and their friends all ignore that and go ahead with whipping up a script, anyway.

Next thing ya know, all kinds of weird shit starts going down. Jim and his female friend (Graça Costa) drizzle blood all over themselves from a (real) goat head and have sex in a blood-filled bathtub. Brad starts freaking out and begins eating raw meat. Frogs appear in his bedroom and then he starts bleeding and mutating. After squeezing a puss-filled boil that appears, his face completely starts to fall apart. He also starts having homicidal impulses, which become increasingly more difficult to control. While enacting a scene from the play, Brad gets a little too into a strangling scene with one of the actresses and has to fight off the urge to slit his girlfriend Carol's (Carina Palatinik) throat with a sickle. Before too long, he's completely possessed and has no control over what he does. What's to come is an extremely gory killing spree that puts most other slashers to shame in the blood and guts department.

Brad visits one of his cast mates, Liza (Lilian Ramos), who makes extra money working as a hooker, and proceeds to stab her in the stomach. As she lies on the ground, suddenly a train (!!!) rolls over her and cuts her in half! He returns to the theater, where another girl tries to help him and is repaid by getting stabbed in the mouth. Another actress (who is in the middle of hanging pictures in the theater hallway wearing nothing but a t-shirt and thong [?]) gets her stomach beat in and guts yanked out with a hammer. There's also a strangulation with a chain, a drowning, eyeballs poked out, a knife through the throat and a guy getting crushed by a piece of heavy machinery until his guts pour out. In one of the more memorable scenes, a man has battery acid thrown in his face and then get chopped to pieces by the propeller of a wind machine. There are also zombies. As it turns out, the old man, Mr. Parker, is actually a ghost wanting to return to life and is planning on possessing Brad to do so. Jim and Carol, with help from the librarian, must find a way to stop him.

It’s really not too bad as far as these things go. The storyline is thin and often confusing, the acting and dialogue are both terrible (it's English-dubbed) and the low budget is evident in the flat 16mm photography, poor lighting and schizo editing cuts, but the whole point is to be uber gory, and this delivers the gooods on that front. In fact, it's so violent it had to be released unrated in the U.S. (the distributor was Complete Entertainment). The director, best known in his native country as a porn director, also made SATANIC ATTRACTION (1990) for the direct-to-video market. Lead actor Coan died in a car accident in 2007.


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