When I was young, whenever I whined to my mother about “wanting” something that wasn’t absolutely necessary according to the basic tenets of state child neglect statutes, she would always give the same reply…”Well, the people in Hell want ice water too. Too Bad!” Yet now I find out years later, that the people in Hell didn’t want water at all, they wanted women?? Pshaw, all they had to do was ask me. I have a few ex’s I would just love to send down to them, (express delivery). It would be nice to finally have them meet dear old Mum, who I always imagined must be running things down there by now.
Token stock introduction and quirky personal anecdote complete, this is the most recent film by Full Moon Features. It actually has a different tone than most any Full Moon Feature I have ever seen, but some basic quality and technical aspects are lacking (as is often the case with this studio). Still, with “THE DEAD WANT WOMEN” Full Moon has finally discovered (or perhaps merely remembered) why young people buy unrated movies to begin with. While mainstream studio films are always ultimately judged by what they don’t actually show onscreen, Underground movies of whatever genre should be more graphic (at all moments) to appeal to those who simply have more extreme tastes and only watch B movies because they have seen too many films to be easily aroused, horrified, (impressed) making them dark connoisseurs of cinematic offal such as myself. Besides, the Unrated/NC-17/XXX rating on a film is always marketing suicide anyway, almost guaranteeing your film will never be seen by too many people unless you also release an R-rated version of it. Moreover, I have always felt that if you absolutely must bust the MPAA rating ceiling with a film’s content you might as well “own it” and fill up the back of the box with as many advisory warning labels as a pack of cigarettes. Could it be Charles Band has finally learned this simple maxim, and he is finally going to give the public what it wants for the first time since Puppetmaster? While it indeed seems that THE DEAD WANT WOMEN, all I ever “wanted” was a good graphic horror movie from Full Moon for the first time since CASTLE FREAK. Let us see if I can’t get come to some sort of agreement with this thing where both our basic desires are fulfilled.
The film starts in a 1920’s flashback at the lavish estate of Rose Pettigrew, one of the most accomplished silent movie actresses of the day. A lavish party is in full swing and all her actor friends are in attendance. There is Tubby Fitzgerand the fat prop comic (Think Fatty Arbuckle), There is Robert Zachar (A horror actor) and there is Sonny Barnes (A backwoods sounding cowboy actor played by Eric Roberts). I have to admit, at this point of the film I was completely on board, the pacing was sinister, slow but percolating and everyone in it looked exactly like the ancient, strange, stiff, hotel support staff of “THE SHINING” who I have always sincerely felt deserved a film, (if not prequel) all their own. Eventually Rose and her friends do what anyone in Hollywood do when they are drunk on adulation and excess, they retire to a secret basement sex dungeon and have an “unrated” sex orgy with two anonymous flapper girls.
Well it is then and there that Rose Pettigrew gets some disturbing news that the studio is going to switch from silent pictures to “talkies” and because her voice is not particularly desirable she snaps and starts shooting all her friends dead in mid coitus, engaging in a grisly murder suicide spree in the time you can say “It’s my party, and I’ll die if I want to.” With this final scene of the ultimate “party killer” move now complete, we move ahead to modern day times where the vacant Pettigrew mansion now lies vacant, but somehow from far from empty..
Enter Reese and Danni, two pretty blonde realtors who somehow seem suspiciously familiar; friendly for mere co-workers, but perhaps I am just sexually hypersensitive from the sweet girl on girl scene from a scene ago and my objectivity on these matters is not to be trusted (in this one instance). Well it seems they have a buyer for this much maligned property, so they break out the hugs and celebratory alcohol. But wouldn’t you know it? The dead stars from Hollywood past aren’t really dead after all; they are awakened when Reese tries on a piece of costume jewelry that is found in the backyard. All of the ghouls are the spitting images of their once living representations in the first half of the movie, except for the fact that they wear thick; sloppy layers of creature effect makeup which is perhaps best described as “Pancake Makeup” made out of actual pancakes. Of course these dead things stalk and shamble about, drop predictable movie one liners contemporary with their screen personas and force Reese and Danni to “party” with them, though the revelries aren’t as carefree or as simply pleasure based as before…It seems the party theme this time is not on erection, but resurrection. Just think of SKELETON KEY and you can pretty much figure the modus operandi from here if not the corpus delecti of the meat men as they try to dutifully and lovingly reincarnate the woman who shot them dead close to a hundred years ago. What???
Admittedly, this is not a bad basic idea for a film, but there are some sins here having nothing to do with the usual immoral onscreen depiction of sex and violence that would be wrong of me not to mention here. For one thing, there are all sorts of special effect snafus which rob this film of its credibility and its dark suspense when the blood comes gushing and it needs to be taken seriously. Blood gushes look bright and unnatural like digital renditions of partially set Strawberry Jello digitally superimposed on the action in post-production. Knives that end lives are shown as clean in the next scene. The final moments of the film where a character drives off into the sunset with digitally altered “glowing eyes” firmly set against the slightly shifting shadow of the actress they are superimposed upon makes you laugh long after the credits stop rolling. Moreover, one of the flapper girls shot dead in the orgy “so long ago” walks around in modern day times, looking much as she looked in the roaring twenties (in a non-zombielike state). While this is probably the first time I have ever complained about the presence of a naked woman walking about in a movie for no apparent reason, it does kind of make you wonder why the three thespian terrors just didn’t try to discover the secrets of beauty of the poor flapper girl (who hasn’t aged a day even after being dead for eighty years) and let the poor realtor women alone. Also, the plot is stupid and full of itself. All characters are never developed past their basic fundamental roles of fiend or fodder and their tactics seemed random and pointless. For example there was a scene where the three terrors admit that they were apparently waiting decades for these two comely realtors to “accidentally” awaken them by the wearing of the necklace. If that sentence sounds illogical to you in any way you are probably too smart to be watching this, as it is chock full of such impossible idiosyncrasy.
And yet this putrid thing has some things going for it that a Full Moon Feature hasn’t had in a long time. For the first time since Puppet Master, a Full Moon Feature has an actual sex scene in it longer than five seconds. I dare say the orgy scene is probably the most explicit moment I have ever seen in a Full Moon Feature with most of the action being provided by two actresses’ (however illustriously) listed as Flapper Girl #1 and Flapper Girl #2 who are played by real life porn stars Jeanne Marie Sullivan and Misty Anderson. Another plus is the fact is that Eric Roberts plays the cowboy with some skill and prerequisite aplomb. I have always said there are just two types of film lovers in this world, those who like Julia Roberts movies and those who like Eric Roberts Movies, and for most of you out there in cinematic savage land, I don’t have to ask which one of the Roberts siblings you prefer. Finally, one of the realtors is played by the lovely Jessica Morris who hasn’t had much of a protagonist role in any cult movie since DANGEROUS WORRY DOLLS, a movie I reviewed here and liked very much but only because of her believable yet badass transformation, even in a B film full of usual shit production values. Finally, THE DEAD WANT WOMEN was a film that actually relied on human actors and actresses instead of more crudely manipulated and (now digitally enhanced) marionettes. It is nice to know that a shameless puppet producer pimp like Charles Band is coming back down to earth and is actually putting actors in his films again instead of YET ANOTHER troupe of deadly dolls. Perhaps on some future film he can actually get them to act less wooden than just another painstakingly articulated stop motion dummy from his prop department? We can only hope. While I didn’t think this film was particularly good I do think that Charles Band could be FINALLY on his way to releasing a harder, sexier more disturbing product for today’s youths who demand fiercer flicks than their parents watched (as all new generations must demand to keep this subgenre from lapsing into ennui).
Yes, in conclusion it seems that THE DEAD WANT WOMEN, but aside from the orgy scene which might give some guys a localized sensation of rigor mortis, I will warn you all (just as someone should have warned the stiffs in this film) that there isn’t much worth coming back for…However, anything that locks up Charles Band’s puppet trunk up for an entire film can only give Full Moon Features fans just a little hope for the future that the dead could only envy.
Extras include a “making of” and a collection of trailers.
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