Ghostquake DVD Review
Written by Joel Harley
DVD released by Signature Entertainment
Directed by Jeffery Scott Lando
Written by Paul A. Birkett and Anthony C. Ferrante
2012, Region 2 (PAL), 84 minutes, Rated 15 (UK)
DVD released on 21st January 2013
M.C. Gainey as Danforth
Danny Trejo as Ortiz
Charisma Carpenter as Librarian
Jonathan Baron as Quentin
Gabe Begneaud as Dean
Marc Donato as Colt
A school's evil, dead Principal is resurrected when one of the kids throws magic gold coins all over the floor. This is no ordinary high school, though: with Danny Trejo as the janitor and Charisma Carpenter the librarian, you can be guaranteed they won't go down without a fight. It sounds awful and it mostly is, but the cast elevates it to something quite special. With M.C. Gainey as the Principal, Carpenter and Trejo the staff, I'd love to be a fly on the wall of that school's coffee lounge.
Ghostquake is exactly what the outcome would have been if Danny Trejo had decided to star in an episode of Goosebumps and then let them lock him in a cupboard for most of the episode. Besides the wonderful M.C. Gainey, no-one in Ghostquake is at their best. Carpenter has exactly one scene, and Trejo spends most of his time crying in a cupboard. This occurs after he is utterly humiliated by one of the school's ghosts – trying to fend her off with a book, and in a manner definitely not befitting Machete Cortez. This may not be the worst thing Trejo has ever appeared in (that'd be Babysitters Beware) but we could all do without seeing the big man sit crying while the school (literally) goes to hell around him. And then, as soon as he escapes, he gets himself beaten up by a teenage girl (“don't call me chica!”). As bad days go, it's second only to that episode of Breaking Bad where he had his head lopped off and went for a ride on a tortoise. Although that does happen to be one of my top five moments of Breaking Bad, so it does have that in its favour.
With its mostly bloodless kill sequences, stupid story and exploitative use of cult names, Ghostquake looks like just another Syfy failure on paper. Its alternate title doesn't inspire much hope either – once called Haunted High, it sounds like a filler episode of Buffy the Vampire Slayer or Goosebumps. Danny Trejo or not, I was prepared to hate Ghostquake.
And then M.C. Gainey arrived on screen, and I just couldn't bring myself to dislike this charming, loveably silly film. Overshadowed by others in most of his ordinary output (although always a scene-stealer) here he is the star of the show. And what a show he puts on. His 'ghostquake' is a 10+ on the (ghost) Richter scale. Wearing a Colonel Sanders moustache and laughing manically in every single scene, his ghost Principal is like Freddy Krueger crossed with Eduard Khil. Which is quite apt really, since Syfy movies are the very embodiment of trolling. “Danny Trejo is on the cover, but he spends most of the time locked in a janitor's closet, trolololol.” With its nightmarish, surreal and occasionally stupid kill sequences, Ghostquake could have been a Nightmare on Elm Street sequel, but Gainey plays his rip-off Freddy Krueger to perfection. Ninety percent of his lines are, admittedly him just laughing his head off, but it's a very fun performance from one of television's best supporting actors. Tom Friendly was always my favourite 'Other' in LOST.
There are other teachers and pupils at this haunted high school, but they're all completely overshadowed by Gainey and Trejo. Shawn C. Phillips is about the only other actor in the film I can remember, playing an entertaining nerd type. But let's be honest – no-one's here for him, we just wanted to see Danny Trejo punch something. It's incredibly disappointing in that respect, but the film does culminate with a shirtless Trejo wrestling Gainey into submission. Ghostquake is worth a punt for that alone.
Video, Audio and Special Features:
Video, audio and special features will not be graded as this was a screener.