Sunday, October 12, 2014

Scary Movie Month 2014, Day 12

Tales From the Crypt Presents Ritual

There are some things in life that I just can't abide, and this movie commits one of the worst of those sins: a criminal waste of Tim Curry. He's the "comic relief" here (a term possibly never used more loosely) and he seems as bored as anyone watching this shit.

Ritual was meant to be the third in an ongoing series of Tales From the Crypt movies. The first, Demon Knight, is a fun, funny, nasty, kinetic, endlessly rewatchable monster mash. The second, Bordello of Blood, leans way too hard toward comedy (and an assumption that the Venn diagram of "horror fan" and "Dennis Miller fan" has a much greater overlap than it actually does) and completely tanked in theaters. It flopped so hard, in fact, that this movie was purchased by Miramax and had all connections to Crypt removed for international theatrical release. Eventually they added the Crypt stuff back in and dumped the movie (deservedly so) direct to DVD in the US.

The movie opens with a horrifically cheap Crypt Keeper intro, the puppet seemingly purchased from a second-rate Halloween store and still voiced by a probably embarrassed John Kassir, who deserves better than this. We then cut to the movie proper, an ineptly-staged, self-serious remake of Val Lewton's infinitely better (and almost 40 minutes shorter) I Walked With A Zombie. Everything is flatly lit and unimaginatively staged, and while there are a few very welcome practical effects that stand out, there's also some terrible, cartoony CGI which only serves to make the whole thing feel like a SyFy Channel production.

Unlike one would expect from Tales From the Crypt, this movie has no sense of humor or fun. Say what you will about Bordello of Blood (it's not good) but at least it knew how silly it all was. I'll take that smug goofiness over po-faced dullness any day of the week. I Walked With A Zombie is readily available on DVD, by itself and as part of an excellent career-spanning Val Lewton box set. Do yourself a favor and track that down instead, you'll have a better time, I promise.

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