Set in and around a Catholic School (co-ed, no less), a bunch of youngsters (including resident ‘bad’ girl Zoe Trilling and snobbish ‘mean girl’ Christine Taylor) decide to hold a Halloween party at the infamous Hull House, where the sister of nerdy ‘Mouse’ (Merle Kennedy) was the only survivor of a massacre a few years ago that apparently involved demonic possession. Trilling decides to engage in some black magic nonsense, and unsurprisingly, Mouse’s sister Angela (Amelia Kinkaid) turns up in demonic form to bump the partygoers off one by one in bizarro fashion. Robert Jayne (then billed as Bobby Jacoby) plays a nerdy student interested in demonology and of course, is the first to catch onto what’s going on, and (of course) isn’t believed by anyone. Cristi Harris is our designated ‘Final Girl’, who nonetheless has sex, breaking genre convention.
Directed by the infamously awful Brian Trenchard-Smith (“Turkey Shoot”, “Leprechaun in Space”) in 1994, this horror yarn looks like the kind of cheap, Romanian-lensed schlock Full Moon Studios would’ve churned out in the late 80s, not something from the mid 90s. It looks cheap (aside from some fine makeup, albeit some is ripped-off from “The Exorcist”), and plot-wise it’s old-hat urban legend stuff, heavy on clichés. “Evil Dead” it ain’t, but some of the roving camerawork suggests it wanted to be. In fact, as cheap as the film often looks (especially in daytime scenes), cinematographer David Lewis at least shows off some nice lighting and use of shadows at times (including a cute “Nosferatu” visual reference).
The acting is pretty bad, despite some familiar faces in the crowd (Jennifer Rhodes, Bobby Jacoby, Christine ‘Marcia’ Taylor, and Rod McCary), and it’s way too slow. There were enough breasts on display to keep me awake, especially the perfect breasts of Cristi Harris on display. But for the most part, I wasn’t enjoying this.
It does kick into gear in the final third with all manner of weird stuff. I’ve heard of a poisoned lipstick before, but not a lipstick that turns into a worm-like creature that violates a woman. That one was new...and admittedly kinda stupid, but at least the film was finally going somewhere. The show-stopper would have to be the boobs that turn into hands that grab a guy’s hands and burns them. Boobs that turn into hands, people. Boobs that turn into hands. Once again, stupid, but hilarious. There’s a nice decapitation, with some blood-spurting goodness, and an hilarious bit where a headless corpse plays basketball with his own disembodied head. Why wasn’t the first half like this? It’d be a winner.
Although lead actress Cristi Harris isn’t bad (and looks hot!), Zoe Trilling is really awful, and terribly forced. Rod McCary is wasted as the priest/Doubting Thomas, as is Bobby Jacoby (AKA Robert Jayne) in a role that seemed like it would go somewhere initially. Christine Taylor shows some charisma in a similarly underdeveloped role, and Jennifer Rhodes is cheesy as the strict, proactive nun. In addition to looking and (particularly) sounding like Meryl Streep (to the point where you wonder about Meryl’s inspiration for “Doubt”), she has one wondering whether all nuns have special balloons to hold holy water in to stop demons and send them back to Hell. We even get the super-soakers that Quentin Tarantino and Robert Rodriguez obviously ripped-off for (the much more entertaining) “From Dusk ‘Til Dawn”. There’s some interesting special FX/makeup in the finale when the demon turns into a giant serpent creature that clearly chewed up most of the budget.
This film could have been a whole lot of fun, but although it has its moments, they’re all in the second half. It’s cheap, silly, overly familiar, and mostly not very good. But those booby hands...they’re really something.