Life is full of sacrifices.
Year of Release: 1995
Running Time: 91 minutes (1:31)
Director: Rene Eram
Corey Feldman ... Andy
Joel J. Edwards ... Marsh
Diane Nadeau ... Rebecca
Ron Melendez ... Erik
Clark Tufts ... Loomis
Maury Ginsberg ... Deitz
Darren Eichhorn ... David
Brendan Hogan ... Stan
Jack Nance ... Lewis
Deep in the heart of Los Angeles is a secret so sinister and so evil, that those who are witness to it will either lose themselves to its dark grasp, or lose their lives fleeing from it.
Andy Chadway transfers to Welles College, only to find himself snared in the dangerous web of a fraternity led by a voodoo priest. After a frenzied ritual initiation by undead zombies, Andy wakes to find the snakemark of the evil snake goddess Ezili tattooed on his chest. Now, it's up to Andy to escape from the black magic powers before his girlfriend becomes the next human sacrifice.
Voodoo, remindin' us that if you pledge at a frat house that ain't decorated with paddles, panties, or a chart illustratin' the kinkiest girls on campus displayed proudly above the mantle, there's somethin' very, very wrong with the guys in that house. Granted, there's also somethin' equally screwed up about the mainstream frat boys who keep a horny pot-bellied pig around for use in initiation rituals, but it somehow seems less horrifyin' when you're dealin' with the devil you know. An speakin' of guys who couldn't hit the toilet if they fainted inside the stall of a truckstop bathroom, I'm thinkin' about firin' off a letter to Pope Francis to see if I can't get 'im to come to town an declare the conclusion of Tuesday's breakfast a miracle, cause that was the first time in my life that I'd ever seen Abel Pankins speechless. I tell you what, it's gettin' to where you can't hardly go into Mack's Stacks of Manly Snacks to grab a chicken fried steak without gettin' into a political debate anymore. Course, that's due almost entirely to the fact that Abel Pankins retired last year an now he spends about nine hours a day in there readin' the complimentary copy of Soldier of Fortune an nursin' the same cup of coffee, but I guess this's what he's been workin' towards his whole life, so who'm I to complain. Billy Hilliard an I'd just stopped in to grab breakfast before we went out to Dead Fish Gulch to hunt grouse, when Billy made the mistake of givin' Abel a friendly nod, which in pathetic old man language means "go ahead an rant at us for half an hour about your outrage of the day." So Abel says "hey, Hilliard, you're a negro, maybe you can 'splain this to me," at which point the whole restaurant just kinda sighs collectively an waits for some claptrap that's prolly gonna begin with "now I ain't racist, but..." But anyway, apparently Abel's doctor went an forbade 'im from listenin' to Rush Limbaugh cause he's afraid Abel's gonna suffer four simultaneous heart attacks an never get around to payin' for his gout treatments, so he'd only just heard about the confederate flag bein' removed from those government buildings down south.
Billy saw where this was goin' an just kinda gave me his "it's too early for this crap, you talk to 'im" look, so I yelled (we'd deliberately sat as far away from 'im as possible so I kinda had to) "you mean you don't get why some people might not like their elected officials flyin' the flag that was carried into battle by an army attemptin' to keep 'em enslaved?" Billy stopped shovelin' his scrambled eggs long enough to raise one eyebrow into his "eh, close enough" position, an dove into his hash browns. Course, this did nothin' to sooth Abel's butthurt, an he fired back with "so since some people're offended, I can't fly the stars an bars no more? What about MY rights?!" So I snap my neck sideways again an bellow "Abel, you booth hoggin', no tip leavin', waitress harassin' putz, nobody gives a damn what kinda crapola you slap on that dusty ass window of your Jeep Cherokee, we're talkin' about flyin' it on government property, an that's it." This pacified 'im enough that he at least sat down an quit dribblin' Polident all over the napkin dispenser, an I thought for a minute that I might actually get to eat my food before the gravy coagulated into the T-1000, only then he mutters under his breath "still just a flag, I don't see why they can't just get over it." By this point I was startin' to reach code red levels of hangry, an besides that I knew we'd been in there so long that we were on the verge of gettin' claim jumped on our favorite ridge by Aesop Marlin, so I looked over to the next table where Saul an Blaine Schwartzberg were havin' it out like usual about the management of Saul 'n Blaine's Bridal Boutique & Marriage Annulment Center, an butted in on their conversation. I'm not sure what "schlemiel" means, but I assumed it meant that I had their undivided attention, so I asked 'em to give Abel their thoughts on havin' the WWII flag of Nazi Germany flyin' over the state capitol, an they shot 'im this look like he'd just thrown up in the back seat of their Rolls Royce. I think in that moment, even if just for a second, Abel had seen the outside of his echo chamber an actually understood what I was tellin' 'im. Lotta good it did me, since I'd wasted so much time that I hadda ask B.J. Wilder to reheat my breakfast, an by then all that nonsense'd cost us our huntin' spot, but in the end... nope, it still wasn't worth it. You'd think Mack'd ban that guy from the restaurant, what with the amount of business he must drive away.
I don't really wanna get into detail about it though. Particularly since this here movie is prolly Corey Feldman's best flick since comin' outta rehab for the 13th time. Things get a little tougher in Hollywood after you grow up an stop bein' cute, I guess. Naturally, the IMDB's dumpin' all over it like a plastered bar patron on a toilet seat, but that's pretty much par for the course. I liked it though, which is strange, cause if you consider as a whole the kinda movies bein' released in the mid '90s that featured a cast almost entirely made up of 20 somethins, you're talkin' about the moment the horror genre really started to die. I realize it don't make a lot of sense to say that, cause really, is I Know What You Did Last Summer much different from a Friday the 13th flick, when lookin' at nothin' more than the premise? Not really. It's true though; after all, consider how well American Pie holds up against, say, Porky's, an for whatever reason you've gotta concede that the formula just wasn't workin' anymore. In any event, any movie where Eraserhead teaches Corey Feldman about voodoo can't be all bad, an I've got the conventional wisdom on display in this movie wrapped up right here in a neat little package to prove it. First thing I learned from Voodoo, is that if you're datin' Corey Feldman, it's impossible to keep cosmetic products in your house. Eventually he will find your stash, snort your foundation, huff your mascara fumes, an melt your lipstick til he's got a spoonful. Next thing you know, you're tryin' to get ready for work an he's sittin' on the pot with your "passion pink" shade an a Bic lighter, rockin' back an forth like an Appalachian porch sitter. Second, an this one really aughta be clear by now, but don't leave your drink unattended in a college bar. Doesn't really make much difference whether you're gettin' slipped voodoo roofies or roofie classic, cause the consequences of both're equally terrible. I mean, unless you just like the idea of havin' your brain end up somewhere over the Serpent and the Rainbow. An third, when even Eraserhead thinks your situation's gettin' kinda weird, you might wanna listen to what he's got to say, cause he has a pretty high bar for "strange."
But the thing that kept buggin' me about this one was the location this voodoo priest chose to set up shop for his zombie recruitment post, when he knows full well that he needs all these zombies to be in top physical condition for their big sacrificial ceremony. You don't wanna show up with busted merchandise for that thing, or the snake god'll get P.O.'d an send Jake Roberts over to DDT you back to the stone age. I got nothin' against freedom of religion, don't get me wrong. After all, that's why we hadda beat up on England when they wouldn't quit tryin' to make us eat tea an crumpets an kept tellin' us about how their God could beat up our God in a fight. The voodoo itself ain't the problem, I just don't think the location of this guy's temple is very well thought out. Seriously, I can't think of a riskier place to try enslavin' people, an more importantly, I can't think of a harder place to keep 'em alive. I mean, you've got fatal alcohol poisonin', drug overdoses, poorly thought out fraternity stunts, mass shootins, an algebra related suicides runnin' rampant on college campi. Now, you might try tellin' yourself that you've got your zombie slaves under control an that nothin' can go wrong, an that's gonna be true mosta the time, but sooner or later sleep is gonna take you whether you like it or not. At that point it's just a matter of time before you wake up an find that the whole lot of 'em've gotten launched into orbit after mixin' fireball whiskey an Ecstasy together in their water bongs an started snortin' Ajax outta some sorority babe's butt crack. Then, before you know what's even happenin', four of your five zombros get carted off to the community college medical center an you lose half of 'em to misdiagnoses an negligence due to the fact that mosta their medical staff is made up of impostors hopin' to assist in breast examinations. An don't even get me started on the cafeteria food when your zombies have a biological intolerance for salt, cause that crap'll cause a coronary in the healthiest of co-eds, an since most college kids hafta subsist on Ramen noodles an tunafish sammiches, your nutritional requirements become a serious out of pocket expense. I don't wanna tell people how to live their lives, but I'm just thinkin' maybe someplace a little less likely to kill your voodoo congregation might be in order, like, say the Australian outback. I hear the place that Heaven's Gate used to rent goes for real cheap these days on account of the landlord not bein' able to get the smell outta the drapes, so that might be somethin' to look into. Guyana's nice this type of year too, an you can live like a king down there for like $5 a year. Anyway, alls I'm sayin' is, maybe shop around a little before you decide. Weigh the pros and cons, talk it over with the other Houngans to see what they recommend, it might just expedite your quest for immortality.
The movie begins with this guy who's got a real unhealthy fascination with The Serpent and the Rainbow, smearin' blood all over a little figurine carved outta Ivory soap, an then stabbin' the bejezus out of it with a knittin' needle while this yuppy kid from Yale spills his guts all over campus. Then the kid tries usin' the method pioneered by Hulk Hogan to remove his polo shirt, only his little beanpole arms're no match for the superior stitchin', an when he tries cuttin' off the "Don't Tread on Me" tattoo he got after he had too much to drink at a Tea Party rally, the guy with the darnin' needle busts his arm an sends 'im out to play in traffic. The next day, Corey Feldman shows up on campus to smother his girlfriend (Rebecca) an quash 'er actin' career before it's even begun, an not too surprisingly she's just a little bit P.O.'d that he didn't even bother to tell her he'd been released from rehab. Then he tells 'er he's got no place to stay cause he blew all his Goonies royalties on cocaine an Guatemalan timeshares, so she takes 'im to this frat house where the future middle-management dudebros of daddy's brokerage firm're makin' a pledge suck up unprocessed deer parts. Corey figures out pretty quick that his genitalia's way too big to fit in here, an takes off before all the frat boys start paddlin' the guy's ass an reassurin' each other how into chicks they all are. Fortunately, this guy who looks like Troy Aikman (Marsh) comes by an uses a buncha polysyllabic words on Derin (the head jabroni) til his brain seizes up like an old Mustang engine that ain't had its oil changed since 1978, an Corey ends up goin' home with Marsh like a plain Jane who's enraptured by his chivalry. So they steal Derin's goat before it ends up appearin' in any underground campus bestiality films, an Marsh takes 'im home to meet the rest of the Omegas (David, Loomis, Stan, Deitz, an Erik) so they can ask 'im a buncha dorky questions an decide if he's what they're lookin' for in a pariah. They like Corey, an're willin' to overlook his past history of stakin' lost souls like themselves to the ground like pup tents, but Marsh seems to be aware of Corey ditchin' out on Friday the 13th Part V, so he wants to make sure he's in it for the long haul an sends 'im out to the medical buildin' for a little loyalty test. Marsh wants 'im to sneak into the morgue to retrieve the contents of one of the corpse cubbies, cept when Corey opens it up all he finds is Erik who's chillin' in there waitin' to scare the crap out of 'im an turn his shorts into the Brown university student uniform. Then they go to another drawer an haul Kristen Stewart outta there to take home to Marsh, who grants Corey full membership an laundry room privileges, while Eraserhead spies on 'em from behind an Elm tree. Unfortunately, Corey has a hard time sleepin', cause he keeps dreamin' about wakin' up next to the corpse who won't quit lickin' 'im with 'er forked Gene Simmons tongue, while Jake Roberts' python slithers all over 'im. Freud'd be all over this guy's dreams like depression on Edgar Allen Poe if he were still alive an kickin'.
The next mornin', Corey sneaks into Rebecca's dissection class an promises to be less clingy in the future cause he found 'imself a frat. He figures he'll prolly be too busy judgin' wet D&D t-shirt contests an goadin' idiots into starrin' in amateur Jackass videos to be much of a bother anymore, cept when he tells 'er which frat he got into she freaks out right in the middle of the professor's lecture on intestinal blockage in barnyard animal species, an she hasta do some pretty fast talkin' to avoid gettin' stuck on cadaver shavin' duty. Then Corey an the frat head to the bar an Corey about gets his face cratered by a P.O.'d alcoholic, til Marsh breaks it up an gives the bartender the universal signal to Cosby Corey's drink. Unfortunately, Corey ain't wearin' his roofie detectin' nail polish, so after he passes out with his cue balls in the side pocket of the pool table, Deitz comes an hauls his butt down to the basement an flops 'im down beside the kidnapped cadaver so Marsh can smear voodoo warpaint all over 'er til she looks like Sissy Spacek on prom night. This gives 'er the second wind she needs to get back in the game an tattoo the Gadsden Flag on Corey's chest while he's passed out dreamin' that a porcupine usin' his chest for a cork board. Meanwhile, Derin's finally realized his goat's left 'im for greener pastures, an decides to take his Bro-Magnons over to the Omega house an trash the place like Jose Canseco on a roid rampage. The next mornin', Corey wakes up to find his new "first temptation of mankind" tattoo an he ain't real thrilled with the artistry. He's even less thrilled to find Eraserhead hangin' out waitin' for 'im to sleep off his drugs, but listens intently while Eraserhead explains what happened an tells 'im he's gonna be dead in a coupla hours, an that he might wanna avoid makin' any important plans for the future. Corey ain't buyin' none of it, an figures that his last stint in rehab was just so successful that now one screwdriver can drop 'im faster'n Jared Fogel from a junior high speakin' engagement, so Eraserhead gives 'im a coupla Hardee's salt packets an tells 'im to try 'em out on one of his frat bros. So Corey goes downstairs with the rest of the guys to watch Marsh demand restitution from a Ken doll he's got standin' in for Derin, after which he proceeds to jam a tongue stud into it, smear Pace Picante all over it, an speak in tongues til Derin wakes up in his bed lookin' like he's got the super flu from The Stand. Then Marsh uses his universal zombie remote control lobe to make Derin grab a 12 gauge an fire alma mortars through the gut buckets of all his fellow bromosexuals an turn the place into a frag house, before finally turnin' the gun on 'imself an wastin' his mind. I think we're supposed to be bothered by this, so everybody try to look horrified. But anyway, Marsh's borderline sadistic Punch and Judy show gets Corey to feelin' a little on edge, so durin' the round by round updates of Derin's shootin' spree he slips one of the salt packages into Deitz' beer, an once everybody takes a triumphant pull off their brewskis, Deitz starts convulsin' like an epileptic manatee.
Corey figures this'd prolly be a good time to get outta everybody's hair an let 'em sort through their charter's insurance policy, so he busts outta the common room window an heads for the med school to warn Rebecca. Trouble is, he's got David an Loomis right on his butt, an he just doesn't have the kinda time needed to walk 'er through the whole zombie frat boy concept, an hasta duck out the back entrance. Unfortunately, Marsh's waitin' for 'im when he comes chargin' outta there like Pete Rose headin' for home plate, an blows a handful of Cheeto dust into his face til he looks like Ron Howard, forcin' Corey to hitch a ride with Eraserhead so he'll have a place to freshen up. Awhile later, Corey wakes up in Eraserhead's place where he tells Corey about how he got into the revenge business several years back when Marsh made his kid watch MTV til his brain rotted, makin' it real easy to turn 'im zombie, an gettin' Eraserhead real P.O.'d on account of his bein' way too old to take a paternal mulligan. He also tells 'im that if he doesn't recover the personal object Marsh took from 'im he's gonna be the sixth sacrifice in Marsh's bid to achieve immortality like Chris Lambert in Highlander, an that he'd better step on it cause pretty quick Marsh's gonna have a firmer grip on 'im than corporate America has on congress. So Corey heads back to the Omega house, sneaks in, roots around in Marsh's curio cabinet, an eventually recovers his crack pipe after diggin' through a pile of d20 dice, several Magic: The Gathering decks, an autographed copy of Space Invaders, an a limited edition Batman action figure with swivelin' pelvis, for better Batusi dance fever gyration. Cept before he can get outta there, Erik catches 'im an tells 'im he's tired of bein' a human yo-yo an makes pouty faces til Corey agrees to bring 'im along. Meanwhile, Rebecca's in the morgue with 'er friend (Wendy) diggin' through all 'er corpse cabinets lookin' for the recent arrival sportin' Ben Franklin's "Join or Die" tattoo, cept when she finally finds it the teacher shows up with a syringe an pumps Wendy fulla Mean Green Puncher flavored Squeezit juice, an Rebecca ends up gettin' grabbed an hauled back to Marsh. Then Corey an Erik make it back to Eraserhead's house an things get real awkward when Erik starts raggin' on Eraserhead for not sendin' one thin dime to help with his tuition an failin' to visit 'im on Parents' Day. Eraserhead never did have much luck raisin' children, an pretty quick Erik stabs 'im to death with the Swiss Army Knife he gave 'im for his 8th birthday, forcin' Corey to grab Eraserhead's top secret voodoo priest murder powder before splittin' like an old pine tree after a lightnin' strike. Cuttin' here, so hopefully Corey can resist the temptation to snort all the magic pixie powder, otherwise things might get ugly.
Alright, well, I'm gonna try not to let nostalgia influence the score too significantly, cause every now and then you come across a movie that you enjoy, despite your inability to really understand why. In all honesty, Voodoo came out as the horror genre was startin' to go down the ole toilet (at least in my estimation), and there's really nothing spectacular or special about it that makes it memorable. So I'm wondering if maybe I look back on it favorably because I first saw it on Monstervision. It's really the only explanation that makes any sense. That's not to say that there's anything glaringly wrong with it, as it's at least fair on a technical level, but it ain't exactly The Serpent and the Rainbow. I'd imagine that if one was well versed in the ways of voodoo you could probably find a whole slew of things wrong with it, but they wouldn't be things that stand out to a layman, which is really all that matters. I mean, physicists and/or astronomers can prolly find about a hundred things wrong with Alien, but that doesn't make it a bad movie. The other thing that should leave it dead in the water is the fact that this was the era where teen/tween horror started to become unbearable for me; yet, I liked the casting quite a bit. And honestly, I have absolutely no idea why it doesn't bother me as much in a Nightmare on Elm Street, Halloween, or Friday the 13th movie, but for whatever reason, a horror cast made up almost entirely of young people post 1994 just grates on me. Nothing's changed except for the era in which the movies were shot, and yet, I can't hardly stand it. Maybe it's me that changed, or maybe the changes in pop culture made the youth of America less palatable, who knows. About the only sequence in the movie that has a hint of originality to it is the scene where Joel Edwards brings home the Ken doll and proceeds to converse with it as though it were the frat douche from the right side of the tracks, providing both dialog from his, and the jerk's point of view. This is likely going to be what anybody who sees the flick remembers about it, as it's both deliberately funny and bizarre to watch as it plays out. The round by round updates as the mind controlled frat boy dispatches his housemates one by one is the kind of morbidly amusing sequence a lot of other movies try to pull off, but fail to deliver. That series of events alone is worth the price of admission, in my opinion. I dunno what else to say about it to try convincing anybody that hasn't seen it to check it out, cause it's one of those movies that you've just gotta watch to decide for yourself. Which, now that I think about it, completely defeats the purpose of reviewing it.
Okay then, let's open up this thing's skull and see if it's got a mind of its own, or whether it just takes its marching orders from better movies. The plot's alright, but doesn't bring anything particularly original to the table. The unique thing about it is the venue change, which is different, if nothing else. Many movies utilize the approach of taking a time tested subject with a reasonable amount of public appeal, and change only the setting. Sometimes it works, sometimes not, and I certainly didn't feel like this one really added much to the voodoo mythos. It's also a bit modernized, which generally means taking something that was previously menacing, and humanizing it. So the zombies in this movie come across as regular humans, thus shedding the previously conceived perception of them that generally involved shambling, obedient mutes. The acting is mostly just alright, with two exceptions. Jack Nance is pretty good as the weirdo, witch doctor hunting Lewis, and Joel Edwards is especially entertaining as Marsh. I like Corey Feldman, don't get me wrong, but his performance here gives off a powerful "going through the motions" vibe. It's Edwards who really saves the movie from mediocrity, which is odd because he's only ever had five acting gigs in his entire career, with this role being the only one significant enough to hold much bearing on the movie's overall worth. Here's who matters and why, less Corey Feldman: (Diane Nadeau (Wes Craven's New Nightmare), Ron Melendez (Children of the Corn III, The Unborn II), Sarah Douglas (Superman 1 & 2, Conan the Destroyer, Return of the Living Dead III, Strippers vs. Werewolves, Gryphon, Hell Mountain, Monster Mash: The Movie, Mirror Mirror II, Quest of the Delta Knights, Puppet Master III, Beastmaster II, The Return of Swamp Thing, Solar Babies, The People that Time Forgot, Rollerball 1975, Bram Stoker's Dracula 1974, The Last Days of Planet Earth), Jack Nance (Little Witches, Dune, Assault on Dome 4, Twin Peaks: Fire Walk with Me, The Blob 1988, Ghoulies, Eraserhead), Amy Raasch (Hellmaster), Bryan Michael McGuire (Vamp), Christopher Kriesa (Chain Reaction 2006, The Dead the Damned and the Darkness, Legion of the Dead, Hellraiser: Inferno, Bloodsuckers, The Dentist, The Silencers, Cyber-Tracker 2, Scanner Cop, Shocker, I Madman), Clark Tufts (Deadly Manor), Maury Ginsberg (The Ring), John Ward (Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles), Aaron Kuhr (Tank Girl), Christian J. Fletcher (Supergirl), Brian DiMuccio (Moonbase), Dino Vindeni (Marching Out of Time). Aside from Corey Feldman, only Sarah Douglas has done anything with any socially redeeming value, having played Pamela Lynch on Falcon Crest.
The special effects are few and far between, and pretty much take a backseat to the plot in terms of overall contribution. So if you don't like the plot, don't look for much help here. In fact, the opening sequence has the most on screen blood outside of the climax, which doesn't beat it by much. The most involved special effect in the whole movie is the arm snapping scene near the beginning, where Marsh is jabbin' the voodoo soap figurine with the knittin' needle, breaking the victim's arm. Other than that, the only thing we ever get is a little blood here and there, as the majority of the deaths occur off screen. Very pitiful showing in the special effects department. The shooting locations are about what you'd expect from a movie set on a college campus, although the only location listed on the IMDB is the one where all the hospital/medical school/morgue scenes were shot. It's also painfully obvious that the hallways inside the Omega house were actually from the hospital as well, as they don't even begin to resemble anything you'd expect to see in a residence or dormitory. That said, if you like the idea of a movie shot on a college campus, it's believable enough, but it's certainly not my idea of an interesting setting. The soundtrack isn't too bad, despite being a little repetitive. If you can imagine what it'd sound like to have a 20mph wind gust blowing through an arts and crafts store, that's basically what we've got here. It's a very unobtrusive soundtrack, generally lurking in the background and providing moderate amounts of suspense throughout the movie. For the most part, it's basically just one track with a collection of sound effects that one might consider typical of a religion that assembles most of its props from nature. Nothing special here either, but more beneficial to the movie than either the special effects or the shooting locations. So yeah, as you can see, kinda mediocre on most fronts in the technical department. Not bad, necessarily, just very unincredible. Which brings me back to my confusion as to what makes me like it as much as I do. I still don't have an answer, but you can be sure that a fairly significant amount of its total score is based upon that fact, rather than how well produced it was. Overall, I think about the only group I'd recommend this to are the fans of voodoo flicks. It's abundantly clear that there's no good reason for my personally liking it, and as such, I'd suggest most people pass on it, despite the rating.