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Movie Review: Spookies

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"Come again?"

"Cinderella. He wants to dress up as Cinderella," said Zombos, glummer than usual.

"Why not?"

"What do you mean why not? No son of mine is going to–"

"Wait a minute," I interrupted Zombos. "Look, I'm on the phone here. I still can't find someone to come with me to see Saw IV. I'm sorry you've got issues with Zombos Junior dressing up as a girl for Halloween, but I need–"

Zombos moaned. "Oh, lord, dressing up as girl! At least if he would be Prince Charming, I could accept that. I should have realized something was amiss when he preferred watching America's Top Model instead of the Goosebumps marathon. I blame Zimba for this."

"Mr. Chin? Mr. Chin? Damn it all, he hung up. Who else can I call," I said to myself. I was desperate. I should review the bloody film, but I can't take all that sadistic, gory torture stuff that keeps the Saw franchise alive.

"You realize Chris Beaumont over at Blogcritics already saw it, don't you?" said Zombos. "He's not squeamish like you are. He doesn't need someone to hold his hand like you do, just to see a stupid horror film. You should be ashamed of yourself."

"You're just mad Zombos Junior prefers Cinderella to that Jack Sparrow pirate costume you bought him. Look, so what if he's transgender? He's still your son, right?"

In the hallway, Zimba and Zombos Junior went running by. Zimba was yelling at him to give her high-heels back and to stay out of her makeup case. Zombos moaned even louder.

"Oh, bugger. At this rate, Saw IV will be on DVD before I get a chance to see it. Maybe I'll review that legendary cinematic train wreck, Spookies, instead."

"I thought it was only available through Amazon UK?" said Zombos.

"That's right. But I just got my region-free DVD player, so now I can play all those nifty UK horror films I've been dying to see."

"Count me in," said Zombos. We headed to the cinematorium to watch Spookies.

"And you're sure Roger Corman wasn't involved in this?" said Zombos as we were well into the film.

"Definitely not. It's more of an Ed Woodian mishap anyway, I'd say."

If you are looking for the perfect second-half of a double bill Halloween show with Plan 9 From Outer Space, look no further. Spookies is a film to be savored for its underdone acting, overbearing dialog, and incoherent story. So rarely do horror films reach the pinnacle of hilarious "what the f*ck" ineptitude this film achieves so easily. Originally started as Twisted Souls, that unfinished film died and gave birth to a spook show hodgepodge of '80s makeup and monster effects that collide head on with badly edited additional footage from another unfinished film, creating a two-headed storyline that never meets eye to eye.

Billy, possibly the dumbest thirteen year-old ever appearing on screen, runs away from home because his parents forgot his birthday. What that has to do with the two cars, filled with bickering couples from Brooklyn — judging by their accents — beats me, but they're in this film, too.

Spookies01All of them wind up at the decrepit sorcerer's ominously dark and creepy home; you know it's ominous because it has a graveyard surrounding it. Billy is the first to enter. In the dining room he finds presents and birthday decorations, and quickly concludes his parents are throwing a surprise party for him. Apparently Billy didn't notice that the house was ominously dark and creepy — and deserted. He peruses the presents and opens the biggest box, asking out loud if it's a bowling ball. Right, a bowling ball. The sorcerer's smiling head in the box isn't a bowling ball. Billy screams and runs out of the house, straight into a freshly dug grave. Scratch one really really dumb thirteen-year-old, though I still don't know why he was there in the first place.

Now back to our two cars filled with the bickering couples. Oh, and there's one guy solo: he's the one with the sock puppet, so you can draw your own conclusions as to why he's sitting alone in the back seat. He's the one on the left in the photo. They all wind up at the ominously creepy and dark mansion around the time Billy is coughing up dirt as the sorcerer's henchman, a purple-faced werewolf, buries him alive. They enter the mansion to party hardy. You know what happens to party people in horror movies, don't you?

I've not mentioned the annoying purple werewolf prowling around the woods all this time because I think you should experience that one for yourself. I'll just mention he likes to hold doors shut as the party people try to escape their soon-to-be rooms of doom in the mansion, but I don't want to get ahead of myself. It is pretty funny to watch, though, so I wanted to give you a head's up on it.

As horror movie luck would have it, the Sal Mineo look-alike of the bunch insists on breaking into a padlocked closet to find a corpse clutching a Ouija board. Carly, the quiet but Ouija-savvy girl of the bunch, knows exactly what to do with the planchette. They bicker  as Carly asks questions like "will we get out alive," and we cut to the sorcerer playing a game of chess, although he never seems to move any pieces. Apparently he needs the souls of people to revive his wife, who poisoned herself to get away from him. Ah ha! The plot starts peeking through. Enjoy it while it lasts because a peek is all you get.

Spookies03_2Carly becomes possessed by the sorcerer and starts to go after the others. As they hustle out the front door, zombies crash the pajama party by popping up out of the graveyard. Naturally, everyone hustles back into the mansion while screaming hysterically. Then they start bickering some more and decide to split up. Zombies outside, a demon-possessed fiend on the inside, and they decide to split up. They actually take time to discuss the matter, too. Here's where you notice that the acting in no way attempts to mirror the adrenalin-rush terror befalling them. The three directors — yes, I said three — must have been on a coffee break during these scenes.

With the directors not around, the makeup and special effects crew indulges their fancies. The 1980s was the decade of puffy rubbery monster suits, herky-jerky animatronics, skittery stop-motion, and greenish-purplish makeup with fangs. You see all of it in this film to varying degrees of success.

One by one, our blundering bunch of bickering idiots gets taken out by one monstrosity after another. Interspersed between each tableau of gory doom, the sorcerer gloats, speaks in a Lugosi-styled accent that's as bad as his makeup, and summons forth more creatures of the night through Carly. And each time someone scrambles to get out of a room, we cut to the purple werewolf holding the door closed so they can't open it.

The creatures encountered reminded me of those you'd find in a Warren magazine like Creepy or Eerie. There are the sod-men in the cellar, who farted with each step they took. Soil does have a lot of nitrogen, but aesthetically speaking, it ruins the terror when farting sod-men are chasing after you. Then there's the spider-woman who sucks the juices out of the annoying sock-puppet guy. That's actually done well, with the alluring woman turning into a slimy spider. Another keeper is the grim reaper statue coming to life with blazing red eyes and razor-sharp scythe. The tentacled, sucker-fish-looking creature that shoots electric bolts is also not too shabby either.

Spookies06While all this is going on, the sorcerer's bride, awakened from her eternal sleep, tries to run away from the sorcerer's bad acting, as well as his professed ardor. An interlude with a witch-thingy in a cave sends her running into the graveyard, where zombies pop up and grab her in an overdrawn groping romp. She manages to break free only to run into the purple werewolf guy as the sorcerer gloats some more.

The end makes no sense whatsoever, but it's done for visual effect only. Indeed, the entire film is one big series of visual setups, spliced together with uneven cuts between the sorcerer gloating, the party people screaming and dying, and the bride loathing her predicament.

If ever there was a reason to throw popcorn at a movie screen, this is it. This film is so goofy, you'll love it.

If you have a region-free DVD player, you can order the DVD from Amazon.UK. If not, there are VHS copies of this film available from Amazon.com.

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