DVD Review

Mania Grade: B

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  • Disc Grade: B-
  • Reviewed Format: DVD
  • Rated: Not Rated
  • Stars: Randal Malone, Tim Sullivan, Ron Ford, Joseph Haggerty, Wesley Deitrick, Denice Stradling, Tim Murphy, David DeCoteau, Conrad Brooks, Anita Page, Margaret O'Brien
  • Writer: Ron Ford
  • Director: Ron Ford
  • Distributor: Dead Alive Productions
  • Original Year of Release: 1998
  • Retail Price: $14.99
  • Extras: original short version


Zombie flick re-animated on DVD

By BRIAN THOMAS     April 22, 2003

This low budget comedy chiller obviously made by horror fans HOLLYWOOD MORTUARY is sort of a combination GODS & MONSTERS and HOW TO MAKE A MONSTER.

Prima donna Pierce Jackson Dawn (Randal Malone) is a legendary Hollywood makeup man famous for his 1930s monster movie creations. But with the horror boom on hold in the early '40s, and his career in decline, Dawn learns the "Brazilian voodoo" secret of eternal youth, which also works to re-animate the dead into zombies. However, the spell requires the blood of a murdered human killed by the spell-makers hand. Driven mad by career disappointment and egomania, Dawn murders horror star Pratt Borokof (Tim Sullivan), then takes a job at the funeral home of Mr. Blevins (Greg Cannone, who somewhat resembles Tom Cruise) in order to revive Borokof's corpse, figuring he can revive his own career in the process.

Re-animating Borokof is one thing, but getting the zombie to cooperate with Dawn's nutty plan is another. In order to heat things up, Dawn revives Hungarian star Janos Blasko (Ron Ford) who died recently of a drug overdose and sends the hated rivals out on a scare-off rampage across Hollywood. The two zombie actors get carried away with their work, however, gleefully slaughtering scores of victims in a string of campy and unconvincing gore sequences.

Though cheaply shot on video, the film manages to make up (no pun intended) for its budgetary restrictions with an imaginative plot. The humor is hit and miss, with some gags scoring belly laughs. The most amusing part comes from the foul-mouthed bickering of the two horror star zombies, who turn the polite and professional Karloff-Lugosi rivalry inside-out. The performances of the leads are spirited enough to be entertaining on their own, with the star imitations superficial but adequate. Film writer Tim Murphy (ALIEN FORCE), director David DeCoteau (FINAL STAB), and cult stars Conrad Brooks (CONRAD BROOKS VS. THE WEREWOLF), Anita Page (JUNGLE BRIDE), and Margaret O'Brien (the star of MEET ME IN ST. LOUIS looking remarkably vivacious at 60) appear as themselves in scripted modern day interview segments.

In addition to the 74 minute release version, the disc also contains the original 54 minute version made for Brimstone Productions (under the title FROM THE DEAD) as part of the CREATUREALM anthology series. The short version is missing Blasco's death scene and other sequences, includes less successful f/x shots, and reveals how much better the new digital transfer looks and sounds. Also, in the expanded version, writer/director Ron Ford highlights the shock footage by printing it in color, leaving the remainder of the period scenes in black and white. In the old version, however, the gore is much less effective the psychological power of the color red. The presentation also switches between fullscreen and letterboxed framing, at one point changing in the middle of a shot! This short version is the only extra on the disc, and its only value is as a curiosity piece.

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