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The Dead Want Women

Review: The Dead Want Women / Director: Charles Band / Screenplay: Kent Roudebush / Starring: Jessica Morris, Ariana Madix, Eric Roberts, Robert Zachar / Release Date: Out Now

Director and producer Charles Band has a secure place in horror history thanks to his involvement in a string of cult classics in the Eighties and Nineties, but what's he up to these days? Well, he's still making memorable films, to judge by this new offering. It's far from perfect, and not the kind of thing you would hope for from an old master of the genre, but it's very much what you would expect from an old devil like Band…

It's 1927. At her rambling home in Hollywood, silent movie star Rose Pettigrew (O'Sullivan) is throwing a party to celebrate the opening of her new film. She also has a private party of a saucier kind going on in a secret cavern underneath her swimming pool. In attendance are three fellow actors, overweight comic Tubby Fitzgerald (Scott,) cape-clad horror star Erik Burke (Zachar) and cowboy Sonny Barnes (Roberts). Unfortunately, her night is thoroughly spoilt when her agent breaks the news that the silent era is over, and her career with it. How does she react? Let's just say, she doesn't take it at all well, and by the way who thought it would be a good idea to bring guns and knives to an orgy?

Cut to the present day. Rose's white elephant of a house has been in escrow for 90 years and is covered in creepers, but ambitious realtors Reese (Morris) and Danni (Madix) believe they have landed a buyer. They set about tidying up the dusty abode, only to find themselves terrorized by Rose's actor buddies, come back from the dead and eager for nubile flesh to assist them in their dark, satanic rites.

The script doesn't bother to spell out exactly why all this is going on (presumably Rose and co have entered into a pact with the devil at some stage on the rocky road to fame and fortune) and it's a wise decision, as it leaves the director free to concentrate on more important matters, such as cadavers in tuxedos chasing around after screaming blondes. The result is a movie which, after some preliminary dawdling, builds up a fair head of steam. It's also not a film you'll forget in a hurry. The use of stock characters from the 1920s and Tom Devlin's lurid, comic-booky special effects make-up combine to give it the feel of a particularly rampant issue of Tales from the Crypt. Zachar steals the show in his plummy, Bela Lugosi-ish role, and porn star Jeanie Marie Sullivan brings an impish presence to a strange part as a ghostly flapper who's mislaid all her clothes back in 1927. Not Band at his best, but gory fun.


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