Saturday, March 20, 2010

Digging up an old one



Barry Mahon is the focus of our post today. Well, not him so much as one of his movies. Mahon is the purveyor of a large number of cheesy/sleazy movies early on in his career, like The Beast That Killed Women and Rocket Attack USA and Juke Box Racket. Later in his career, he did movies for kids, like Thumbelina and Jack And The Beanstalk and a seriously deranged classic called Santa And The Ice Cream Bunny. Yeah. Try finding that one cheap on Ebay...ain't gonna happen. We are all hoping for a special edition DVD or Blu-ray.

The movie we are looking at today is called Blood Of The Zombie, also known as The Dead One. Media Blasters, under their imprint Shriek Show, has released what could possibly be the best copy ever seen. It has the original trailer under the title of The Dead One, and it looks like like it was released just last week, and it is in anamorphic wide-screen. It is very much a case of polishing a turd. An interesting turd, but a turd nonetheless.

The basic story is voodoo hijinks mixed with the age-old inheritance thriller. It has all the trappings of a gothic romance. Not the classical Gothic literature, but the more recent trash of young virginal type entering into a new life where she is unwanted. Unfortunately, they missed the mark and instead focused on the husband. What a shame! This could have been more fun as a cheap paperback-style movie.

Music PR/manager type guy John Carlton, played by John McKay, is set inherit the family plantation when he marries, which he does at the beginning of the movie. Ah, but Mahon knows his audience is the drive-in crowd, and he doesn't do a slow build up to the fun and games. No, sir. He starts with John's deranged cousin, Monica (played by Monica Davis (I guess they were such bad actors that they couldn't have characters with different names)), summoning her dead brother Jonas to make sure the new bride doesn't live long enough for John to gain possession of the property. The zombie looks a bit jaundiced, with his yellow skin and off-kilter walk.

Cut to the end of the marriage. They have to play a bit of the standard Wedding March just so you know it is a wedding. The fact the bride is in a white wedding dress and tosses her bouquet isn't clue enough, I guess. So, after the wedding scene, our leading man drags his new bride through Bourbon Street so he can do business. The weirdest scene takes place when another woman of unclear heritage named Lacey sits with them while listening to the jazz stylings of one of John's clients. The new wife Linda, played by Linda Ormond (again with the name thing), eyes the new woman like a hungry dog looks at a piece of raw meat. Awkwardness abounds when John introduces them and the wife asks, "Are you a friend of John's?" and Lacey responds with, "Who wasn't?" Our sweet, bewildered young bride has married a man-slut. He then takes her to a club where women do cheesy sexy dancing right behind the bar. I'm guessing times were a little different than Leave It To Beaver would have us believe.

On to the family plantation where cousin Monica makes it clear she isn't happy with losing control of the property to John. Even though she has put a supernatural hit out on John new wife, Linda makes herself so sweet and charming that the cousin, in a rare bit of possible real acting, seems put off of her hatred of the interloper.

During a long-running set of scenes that allow exposition, we find out that Monica's brother and Monica got involved in voodoo together and when Jonas blew off the Creole woman who loved him so he could marry a big-money white woman, he wasted away due to a voodoo curse. You'd think Monica would have a little resentment towards the voodoo heritage that killed her brother. but then you aren't really looking for brains in this movie, are you? Well, I mean, other than brains splattered on a wall. Which you don't get, just so you know.

John is even a nice guy about things. He offers to let his cousin stay on as the grande dame of the plantation, but she throws a fit. A little fluff-muffin the newlyweds picked up when her car broke down on their wedding night pops up here and there, mainly to predict people's obsession with solitaire (though most people are addicted to the Microsoft version) as she keeps playing it off and on through the film.

Of course, zombie and voodoo fun and games commence when cousin Monica decides to snuff out the only threat to her claim to the plantation. Where else will you see a zombie thwarted by a bed?

Yes, this is a turkey. Online, you will see it compared to the interest level of dust, but I liked it. It is a silly bit of fluff that moves at a brisk enough pace and is brain-dead enough to keep your head shaking long enough to keep you awake. The ending will have you wondering about how the cops handle crimes back in the early 60s. But it was a nice touch having an African-American cop in the New Orleans area at that time. It shows some lovely progressive thinking on Mahon's part.

Worth checking out, especially if you can scoop it up on Amazon for under 10 bucks, which, at the time of this review, you could definitely do. Happy oddity from the days before the nihilist concepts started altering the world of zombies we now know. Plus, you get a bonus film not even mentioned on the packaging, but I must warn that it seems to be cobbled together from various elements the filmmakers had left waiting for post-production. Still, there is a rather lovely and bloody beheading.

Here is the trailer for those inclined to check it out.