(Directed by Genie Joseph, Thomas Doran and Brendan Faulkner)
(Written by Frank M. Farel, Thomas Doran, Ann Burgund and Brendan Faulkner)
(Starring Felix Ward, Peter Dain and Nick Gionta)
Plot: Kreon (Felix Ward) is a necromancer who plans on creating an eternal horde of undead minions, but he requires the souls of douchebags in order to execute the spell…I think. Luckily, a group of douchebags stupidly wander into his mansion and find themselves confronted by his vile creations.
The prospect of reviewing “Spookies” is a terrifying one because there is an endless void of information surrounding it. I can describe my nostalgic ties to the movie, as this was one of my first horror experiences as a kid. That definitely is going to effect how I perceive it. I can discuss the very intriguing backstory of this project, where a film known as “Twisted Souls” was disemboweled in post production and new footage was added to create the movie that I am reviewing now. I can condemn “Spookies” as ‘bad’, criticizing the tone, the acting, the dialogue and especially the nonsensical storyline- for once, nitpicking would be completely appropriate as every scene is accompanied by something thoroughly idiotic. I could praise “Spookies” for being a relatively atmospheric horror flick that boasts excellent makeup effects, a chilling score and an unsettling location to work with. The pacing is brisk too, so I can’t imagine anyone being bored by the experience. I can analyze “Spookies” as a straight faced parody, as it’s so over-the-top and cheesy in enough areas that I have to believe the filmmakers weren’t taking their work very seriously. I can also talk about how the final product is drenched in an unhealthy, but tasty, layer of cheese. There are so many different angles I can explore, but how can I go through all of this without sounding too positive or negative? “Spookies” can be seen as a fun and spooky creature feature, an unintentionally hilarious example of ‘so bad, it’s good’, an intentionally hilarious send up of creature features or just a bad creature feature which tries too hard to be hilarious. My reluctance to take a side stems from me feeling…well, that “Spookies” is all the above.
It might be easy to make fun of “Spookies” for its shortcomings, but the film does deliver some awesome special effects. The monster designs aren’t always original, with plenty of visual allusions to “Scanners“, “Alien“, “Evil Dead“, “The Ghoulies” and “Phantasm“. But they do look pretty freaky, especially that spider-chick. That nightmarish abomination scared the crap out of me as a kid and I am pleased to see it hasn’t lost its bite. Part of the charm is that while “Spookies” seems intent on cramming every single horror convention of the 80’s, it also has…everything. Demons, zombies, sorcerers, an exploding grim reaper, ghoulies and some especially strange creations which are kind of original- if a little difficult to take seriously. Those muck men were pretty imposing, but what was with those farting noises? I suspect that someone realized that the film was a bit too silly for its own good, so played up the comedy by adding those in post production- as no one acknowledges the farts on-screen. There’s this weird cat-man hybrid with a hook on his hand too, but you’ll be paying more attention to its corny meowing and homoerotic subtext with Kreon. While not especially gory, “Spookies” made me cringe at how mean spirited it could be. Yet it’s also campy enough to be fun. When a character has all of their fluids sucked out from their body, which causes them to deflate like a blow up doll, it’s both unnerving and goofy at once. The music is also pretty great and I wish they did more with that synthesizer tune, but the soundtrack probably deserved better. “Spookies” certainly benefits from the score, but I wouldn’t say the score benefited from “Spookies“. While there is some inspired cinematography, the lighting definitely was a bit too murky at times. It didn’t ruin the experience for me, but many have complained about it.
The plot…doesn’t really make a lot of sense, which is strange because the set-up is relatively simple. A group of teenagers…some played by middle aged looking people…stumble upon an obviously haunted mansion in a graveyard and decide to party it up…Because that is what horror victims do. Then they start playing with the damn Ouija board, because how else are they going to conjure demon spirits so they can die? When bad things begin to happen, they methodically separate, get into fights, attempt sex, stand still or go to sleep in the worst possible moments…Is “Spookies” intentionally trying to win the award for worst character writing ever? Hmmm…Anyway, that sums up the material for “Twisted Souls”. The reason they are dying is because Kreon (Felix Ward) wants to resurrect Isabella (Maria Pechukas), his wife, who committed suicide just to get away from his crazy ass. Apparently he must sacrifice people in order to make this happen, which becomes a moot point after he brings her back to life early on…His motives for the rest of the murders are vague, but I think it’s implied he wants to create an undead army…maybe… What made me laugh is that the possessed Carol (Lisa Friede) is shown to be manipulating all of the demonic forces, but it also shows Kreon doing the same, so one has to infer that we’re being shown Kreon controlling Carol, who controls everything else. Another strange addition is Kreon telling his cat-man servant to kill the others and make it entertaining…which only leads to plenty of scenes of him stalking the characters. He’s shown holding the door so someone can’t escape, but it was already established that the demonic forces can do that on their own. The deaths are caused by…pretty much everyone else. The story has plenty of other eccentricities within the writing. The sorcerer and his wife live in a crypt near (or under the mansion). Yet when she escapes, its from a three (?) story building. So she went out of the crypt, into the mansion, went up a few flights of stairs, jumped out of the window, ran back through the graveyard (where the crypt is), and despite being dead for 70 years…knows what an automobile looks like. That’s…some amazingly brilliant writing. Hmmmm…The reason for the disjointed, inconsistent, incoherent and poorly thought out storyline stems from the addition of new material. This REALLY makes me want to know what was cut out from “Twisted Souls“, as most sources claim that filming had been complete. This is also why the main character suddenly changes from…erm…the last remnants of those generic teens to Isabelle.
The characters suck. I can enjoy the good and the bad with “Spookies“, but these people are frustrating. They’re constantly doing stupid things, but even worse than that, they’re just very unlikeable. Everyone is hostile and rude to each-other, making me wonder why they’re friends in the first place. One awful line of dialogue (“It’s funny. I grew up with these people“- awful because there is absolutely no context for it) implies they were having some sort of reunion, but they should’ve gotten sick of each-other before breaking off to go to their private party. You’ll only bother remembering the names of Duke (Nick Gionta) and Rich (Peter Iasillo Jr.) because of how annoying they are. Rich especially has to be one of the worst characters in the history of awful movie characters. Everyone else is just bland. The acting sucks too, but not in a way I ever found endearing…Sort of. The dialogue is often amusingly terrible, presuming Rich isn’t attempting to do his alleged ‘comedy’. I’m not sure what the filmmakers for “Twisted Souls” were aiming for, but the new director must’ve saw this as a joke as the acting from the additional footage is significantly funnier. Felix Ward is deliciously hammy as Kreon and while Maria Pechukas (Isabelle) doesn’t do a ‘good job’, she is the closest thing to a likable character in this movie. So…wait a minute, I think I have “Spookies” figured out.
“Spookies” is a straight faced parody, intentionally playing up the stereotypically bad horror conventions to such an extent that we’re supposed to laugh at it. The characters are stupid caricatures, which is common amongst bad movies, but this one seems to be drawing even more attention to this. The dialogue is just too corny, the acting too unbelievable and the writing too absurd for me to accept this as something intended to be taken seriously. Yet alternatively, it’s also a pretty cool horror flick, having truly effective music and special effects. I can’t confirm the intentions of the “Twisted Souls” creators, but whoever helmed the new footage definitely was going for something campier based on the performances and special effects. Yet while the story fails to cover up the divergence in movies, to Genie Joseph’s credit, the film quality never struck me as being THAT much different. The special effects are cornier, reminding me a lot of “Evil Dead 2“, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing- especially as “Evil Dead 2” is awesome. Many often feel that “Tortured Souls” would’ve been a stronger flick on its own, which might be true, but I think the new footage benefited “Spookies” in the long run. It provided the only interesting/sympathetic characters and helped sell me on the idea that it is supposed to be enjoyed ironically. Without the goofy antics of Kreon, I might’ve just dismissed “Spookies” as just a bad movie, even though “Twisted Souls” is technically the superior part of said movie. Both “films” have an intriguing dynamic, which allowed me to shiver at what is occurring and laugh at what I’m watching simultaneously.
“Spookies” definitely has everything, from exploding Death Reapers to farting muck men. That’s kind of awesome and if anything, at least the new footage had more effort put into it than any of Godfrey Ho’s stitched up abominations. “Tortured Souls” certainly had the better production values, but the additional segments don’t feel cheap in comparison. The best way to describe it is if “Evil Dead 2” suddenly hijacked “Evil Dead“…if “Evil Dead” wasn’t as good…and “Evil Dead 2” wasn’t as good either, but in a strangely appealing way. “Spookies” can be enjoyed for those who like creature features, but it can also be seen as a send up of those same creature features. Try to think about that when enduring the stupid decisions of the characters, the lame dialogue and bad acting. If you see it in the way I do, then expect to have some fun with it.
Note: My original review wasn’t bad, but I did erroneously claim it stole from “Night of the Demons“, which actually came out a few years later. Amusingly, I had a more positive reaction this time around.
Violence: Rated R. The monster effects are pretty gross, but shockingly the violence itself is quite minimal. I have to give credit too this movie for being enjoyable without relying on excessive gore. However, it is quite mean spirited at times.
Overall: “Spookies” is worth watching if you like these kinds of creature features from the 80’s. Just don’t have the highest of expectations and try to consider what I’ve said.
DISCARDED MATERIAL- The Original Review
Does the plot sound familiar too you? That’s probably because it was lifted from many movies, such as “Night of the Demons”. The truth is, out of all the movies this may have ripped off, it is by far the most original of them. How? Well, that’s because this is the only movie that can boast being two different movies, edited into one film. So if you watch this and wonder why there seems to be two different plots going on(the main one is the one I use above), then perhaps this will clear a few things up for you. Two unfinished movies were spliced together into one, resulting in one bad movie. However, it may fall into one of the best “So bad it’s good” category of films.
This movie has everything. The characters are attacked by sorcerers, zombies, farting mud demons, shape shifting demons, giant spider women, a cat-human, possessed humans that look like they were stolen from “Evil Dead”, ghoulies, a grim reaper statue and worst of all: “Duke the Horny ghost”(lol). This makes for one entertaining movie. In fact, the makeup effects are great. The monsters look frightening enough, and the zombies felt closer to Fulci than Romero(a good thing!). The movie also throws us a twist surprise early on with a certain, mean-spirited character death of a type of character you don’t see die in horror films that often. I guess Ill have to end this positive note by saying the lighting is off, making it hard to see them all.
I suppose Ill wrap up my positive comments on the directing. Both directors were very atmospheric, and did okay with the suspense at times. One felt more “fantasy” and the other felt more “Horror”. I don’t know who did which but both were quite similar and did fine. It’s too bad the lighting was so poor at times. I will give credit too whoever spliced the movie together, as I didn’t realize it were two separate films.
However, all my positive comments end there. Let’s begin my attack with the dialogue. I will often criticize a movie for having bad dialogue. Here, almost every line in the movie sucks. Good luck finding any good dialogue, because it’s all painfully cheesy, unrealistic, and it doesn’t help that the acting isn’t doing any of it justice either. The movie also lacks common sense. If you thought the idiots in “Zombie 4” were stupid, the characters here make them look like geniuses. After being trapped in the house thanks too a bunch of zombies, they do the wise thing and split up. If this isn’t already bad enough, one guy gets drunk and the other decides he wants to have sex (The birth of “Duke the horny ghost”, which I will always remember). Oh, it gets worse, as apparently impending doom by demons doesn’t get in the way of masculinity. Characters decide to get in fights, forgetting they are about to die. The worst is when the kid runs away from home due to his parents forgetting about his birthday, stumbling into an old house in the middle of a graveyard. What happens? Well, he finds a lot of balloons, presents, and cake dedicated to him and realizes his parents didn’t forget his birthday after all! So…they expected him too run away, to the graveyard and into this creepy house? What kind of stupid kid is this? Now this is only the logic of the characters, as the movie itself lacks logic as well.
Let’s go into the details, shall we?
1) The sorcerer is trying to revive his wife by taking all the souls of the cast. Yet she is revived quite early…..so why is he killing these people again? Oh, too teach his zombie son how too kill, even though the son never does so.
2) Why is the cat-man appearing in so many places at once? His teleportation skills easily beat the likes of Jason Voorhees and Michael Myers.
3) The sorcerer is apparently manipulating the happenings using a chess board. He creates a demon(A deadite from “Evil Dead”), who then uses her Ouija board to apparently manipulate the demons to attack the good guys. Er, so he’s using a game to control a demon, whose using a game to manipulate other demons to kill everyone. Overkill? Too be fair, I think this is part of the fact there are multiple movies going on at the same time.
4) The sorcerer and his wife live in a crypt near(or under the house), not the house itself. Yet when she escapes, its from a three(?) story building. So she went out of the crypt, into the house, went up a few flights of stairs, jumped out of the window, ran back through the graveyard(where the crypt is), and despite being dead for 70 years….knows what an automobile looks like.
So if you haven’t figured it out, the movie is a complete mess. Studios, take note not too combine two films that don’t even have similar plots, it’s quite insulting. I will end this review by pointing out that the characters are all unlikely and despicable. The token A-hole was super grating, and the comic relief guy was so painfully stupid and unfunny I was ready to summon some demons just to tear apart this movie. In the words of the great Samuel Jackson: YES I WANTED THEM TO DIE, AND I HOPE THEY BURN IN HELL! WHICH MOVIE IS WHICH? I think the story of the sorcerer, his wife, the kid, and the cat dude were all part of one movie. The rest focused on the main group of people being attacked by the demons. However, there doesn’t appear to be a lot of information about this so I could be wrong.
Felix Ward(Kreon) is amusing as the villain. He seems to be having fun with the role, and surprisingly he never got on my nerves. Peter Dain(Peter) does okay as the more mature guy, considering the crappy dialogue. Apparently, Nick Gianta(Duke) had a promising career before this, but hasn’t been heard of since this movie. I can see why, as his over-the-top performance was awful. The “Duke the Horny Ghost” scene is funny as hell though. Peter Iasillo(Rich) grated me as the comic relief. To be fair, the script really worked against him. Maria Pechukas(Isabelle) has a strange, majestic aura about her. I found myself kind of liking her. Everyone else was pretty bad, although too be fair, the dialogue was so bad it would have too take a genius to save them.
Violence: The monster effects are pretty gross, but shockingly the violence itself is quite minimal. I have to give credit too this movie for being enjoyable without the gore. However, it is quite mean spirited at times. A few slashings(not really bloody), a buried alive sequence, and a fun “blood sucking” bit.
Nudity: None, shockingly.
Overall: As bad as I’m making this movie out too be, it’s much worse. At the same time, I found myself liking it all the same. The only real positive thing to say about it is the special effects, but I liked it as a whole, even if it was simply for laughing at it. I wouldn’t recommend this too anyone, but this review will probably bring kicks and giggles too the people who have seen it. Now I want to make a sequel called “Duke the Horny Ghost”, threatening to haunt audiences all around the world….