Monday, May 21, 2012

I REALLY wanted to like this one....

The Dead Want Women (aka "Haunted Hollywood") (2012)
Starring: Jessica Morris, Ariana Madix, J. Scott, Robert Zachar, Jean Louise O'Sullivan, Circus-Szalewski, Jeannie Marie Sullivan, and Eric Roberts
Director: Charles Band
Producers: Charles Band, Dustin Hubbard, Tom Landy, and Rick Short
Rating: Two of Ten Stars

A pair or young realtors (Madix and Morris) think they've finally managed to unload the supposedly haunted mansion of long-dead silent movie star Rose Pettigrew (O'Sullivan), but they instead learn that the legendary hauntings are all too real.

I'm starting to know what fans of Dario Argento feel like when they keep hoping for another "Deep Red" or "Cat o' Nine Tails" and instead get "Do You Like Hitchcock?" or worse. Because I keep hoping and hoping for Charles Band to bring me another "Trancers" or "Puppet Master" or "Head of the Family" or even "Crash and Burn" or "The Creeps", but he brings me stuff like "Gingerdead Man" and his latest effort "The Dead Want Women" instead.

And I really thought I would like "The Dead Want Women". First of all, it's a great title. Second of all, it's rooted in old-time movies, a topic I love so much I write reviews whenever I watch a old-time movie. Thirdly, it stars Jessica Morris who was one of the best things about "Haunted Casino". And, last but not least, I LOVE haunted house movies--and, again, I love them so much I write about it whenever I watch one!

And make me even more excited about the film, I loved the approach Full Moon took to marketing it. Once again, it had fabulous preview/trailer and the "who is the secret big-time movie veteran in our new movie?" teasers on the web-site were nicely done.

And the main titles sequence is also extremely well done. It is perhaps the best credits sequence for any Full Moon film... and long-time fans know how Full Moon loves its long main title sequences.

Unfortunately, once the credits run their course, this turns out to be another one of those Charles Band films that doesn't live up to my expectations. It's not the worst he's done, and it's far from the worst that's been released under the Full Moon logo, but it's a disappointment.

It's not the actors' fault. They all do the best they can with what they have to work with, but the problem is they don't have much to work with. In fact, it's a testament to the great degree of talent of everyone on the screen that the film comes across as entertaining as it dopes, because the actors are dealing with a pretty awful script here.

When I reviewed the last film Band directed--"Killer Eye: Halloween Haunt"--I complained that the script was flimsy. That complaint applies here as well. In fact, worse, "The Dead Want Women" feels like it was shot using a partially finished first draft that was missing part of Act One and all of Act Three.

This may, hands down, be the worst script that has ever been the basis for a Charles Band moviem and it's a testament to the talent of the actors that it doesn't come off worse than it does. The preview for the film has a better dramatic structure than the film itself, because the way the real movie unfolds it's hard to tell where the focal point of the story was supposed to be... and not just because the characters are universally badly defined. In fact, just as the film seems like it's finally starting to get going--after opening with one of the most listless Roaring Twenties parties you'll ever witness on film, a secret Satanic sex orgy that makes me wonder if Band is longing for the days of Surrender Cinema, and some truly dull bits with Jessica Morris and Arina Madix playing the BFF realtors getting the house ready to show to their mysterious client--with the evil ghost of Miss Pettigrew and her sidekicks doing their thing, the film ends. Like most Full Moon pictures these days, the film barely breaks the one-hour mark... and in this case the run-time is not only half of what we expect from most movies, but the MOVIE is half of what we expect from most movies.

Viewers looking for lots of female nudity will enjoy the film--there is an actress who is naked for literally 99% of her time on screen. Hardcore Full Moon fans will also be able to enjoy a few of those Charles Band touches we know and love--but they will mostly be outweighed by truly awful moments of lazy writing and lazier direction. (Ohmygod... the ghosts have our hapless realty ladies chained up and they are about to do horrible things to them. Oh wait. One of them just undid her shackles easier than I undo my belt when I need to take a dump. And now she's freeing the other chick just as easily. WTF? When did she get possessed by the spirit of Harry Houdini?! And where did the ghosts suddenly disappear to? WTF?!)

The Two Rating might be a little harsh... it film really is teetering between Two and Three. But in this case, I am being miserly with my rating, because this film could have been so much more with just a little more effort. Meanwhile, here's the preview for the film. If the finished product had followed its flow, it might have been a little stronger....

(By the way, is it coincidence that in the past month, I've seen two movies with Eric Roberts doing a goofy accent? He does a Texas/Oklahoma kinda accent in this film, and he did Russian in "The Tomb." Is that something he's known for, and I've just not noticed until now?)