Oh, the horror of making a horror movie! Lights Camera Dead begins with actors reading for the writer and director (Steve and Ryan) of a horror film, The Music Box ("a feature-length film on V.H.S."). The actors are cast and filming begins. The very low-budget film is plagued by cheap sets and fighting among the cast and crew.
The Music Box, a movie within a movie, is hilariously bad, yet not as bad as some of the horror films that have been released in the last few months. Two gothy/witchy women, filmed in black and white, are involved with spells and zombies, and their voices are poorly dubbed.
The all-male crew has been induced to work for free (they’re told there will be topless scenes). The director’s girlfriend, Kari (Amy Lollo), is the peacemaker and tries to smooth ruffled feathers. Director Ryan insults Kari and every member of the cast. When Kari has had enough, she splits and the rest of crew follows.
The film is being scored by a drummer who isn’t coming up with an eerie enough soundtrack to please Ryan (Wes Reid) and Steven (J.C. Lira), and the editor refuses to work with the two any longer. So they do what any director and writer would do—kill the editor. Thus they are inspired to finish their film.
Ryan sends notes to the cast and crew members, and—in one of the best scenes in Lights Camera Dead—Kari imagines him trying to convince her to open the envelope, switching from cajoling to threatening and back. (The worst scene in the movie involves a crew member taking a bathroom break with full sound effects.) The notes are invitations to the preview of The Music Box, in a rundown house out in the middle of—where else?—nowhere.