Saturday, March 14, 2015

Death by Dialogue (1988)

... aka: Evil Nightmare

Directed by:
Thomas Dewier

This was another of those ultra-low-budget City Lights DTV releases that served primarily as shelf filler in the late 80 and were a warm-up to Joseph Merhi and Richard Pepin's more lucrative later venture, PM Entertainment Group. Most of these were cheap-o urban action flicks, but they also put out a number of horror films like Dance of Die (1987), THE NEWLYDEADS (1987), HOLLOW GATE (1988), Epitaph (1988) and this one. Troma later acquired the entire City Lights catalogue and issued DVDs, but regardless of where you get it or the format you get it on, it's worth noting that all versions of this shot-on-video effort look (and sound) like absolute crap. I suppose in a way that's fitting because the film itself is inept in every way possible, but the murky and sometimes even blurry picture quality combined with incompetent audio recording rendering much of the dialogue completely inaudible make this a chore to sit through. While I like cheap / bad movies as much as the next guy, I didn't find this one to be much fun at all despite a couple of memorably off-the-wall moments. Actually, I was mostly just bored.

Cary (Lenny Delducca) decides to pay his crippled taxidermist uncle (Theodore Lehmann) a visit at his remote county house. Also coming along are his girlfriend Shelly (Kelly Sullivan), his leather-jacket-wearing meat head friend Gene (Jude Gerard) and Gene's hottie girlfriend Linda (Laura Albert), who speaks so softly you can barely even hear her but at least takes her top off twice when things start getting boring. Rounding out the group is Lenny, who's played by Ken Sagoes, the only real "name" in the cast because he was in a few of the Elm Street sequels around this same time. Because Sagoes is black, he's of course the token fifth wheel of the group and the scriptwriter has poorly tried to emulate his Kincaid persona by making sure he's loud, frantic and curses a lot. The uncle lives with a sinister-acting female companion (Judy Gordon) who's obviously up to something and a handyman. The latter gets torched in the opening scene by a shrouded woman brandishing a flamethrower and his rotting corpse turns up just minutes after the "teens" arrive yet isn't enough of a red flag to alter their vacation plans any.

Once the corpse is hauled off by police and the coast is clear, the teenagers decide to "get crazy" by playing volleyball, throwing a Frisbee, having a chicken fight and flying a kite. What animals! After having a deep discussion about how it would suck to be decapitated ("I don't know about you guys, but there's no way I want to die!"), Shelly finds a script called "Victim" and begins reading it. As it turns out the script has been cursed by an ancient Amazon tribe so people begin to die. While having sex in the barn, Linda gets blown through the wall but returns later on in a dream sequence where she strips off her top and then rips her boyfriends head off with a scarf (!?) after he drives up to her in a Formula One race car (?!) One of the guys stumbles onto some hair band playing in the middle of the woods (!?) and his head explodes after he's hit with a guitar. A detective is sucked underground and then pops back up covered in melted bubble gum before disappearing again. A monster, a bald demon with a sword and couple of zombies on motorcycles (!) pop in to join in on the fun. Trust me, this all sounds more entertaining than it actually is.

Can't say any of this made much sense. It's mostly just a bunch of random scenes senselessly strewn together by people who had no clue how to make a movie. The haunted script premise isn't a bad idea at all but it's mishandled and not nearly as interesting as it could have been. Near the Uncle's home is a deserted ghost town which used to be a movie set but it too is barely used. The acting, continuity, music and editing are all terrible, the dialogue (what I could make out of it at least) is even worse and the film is littered with incredibly boring scenes where characters sit around talking about nothing in particular, which makes it drag on for what feels like an eternity in between the scant horror scenes. Throw in a couple of awful 80s songs, some cut rate makeups and a few surprisingly decent stunts and that's pretty much all she wrote with this one.

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