The Dead Want Women Movie Review
Directed by Charles Band
Written by Charles Band (story) and Kent Roudebush
2012, 74 minutes, Rated 18 (UK)
DVD released on 31st July 2012
Jessica Morris as Reese
Ariana Madix as Danni
Eric Roberts as Sonny Barnes
Jean Louise O' Sullivan as Rosie Pettigrew
J. Scott as Tubby Fitzgerald
Robert Zachar as Erik Burke
Poor Eric Roberts. The 'that guy' brother of Julia Roberts, despite flirting with bigger movies and blockbusters, has largely languished in B and C movies for most of his career. After drawing the wrath of Stallone's Expendables and being dropped from a fire escape by The Dark Knight, I had hoped this would propel Roberts to the big time. Alas, he remains underutilised in low-budget nonsense such as Sharktopus and The Dead Want Women.
We should be grateful that there are talented actors such as Lance Henriksen, Gary Busey and Eric Roberts out there, working so hard to make Straight to DVD cinema less of a chore. Never mind Stallone, Statham and Schwarzenegger, it's these semi-recognisable faces who are the real heroes.
The unworthy material to Roberts' talents this time is The Dead Want Women – the latest release from Charles Band and Full Moon Entertainment. Charles Band being the man who brought us The Gingerdead Man (somehow less entertaining than a film about a murderous gingerbread man should have been) and Decadent Evil Dead, it's incompetent in a way that only a Charles Band picture can be. Had Mr. Band been lucky enough to be gifted some of the same chances, I think we'd see him mentioned more often in the same breath as Uwe Boll and Ed Wood, but he remains largely a cult secret for now. Famed for his fetish for puppetry (and being terrible), Band is listed as having produced an astonishing 256 movies and directed 37 so far. This sounds impressive, unless you've ever been unfortunate to see Decadent Evil Dead, in which case you'll know that the director has a habit of spreading himself pretty thin.
In 1920s Hollywood, a silent movie starlet and her showbiz pals (including Eric Roberts) meet their demise as part of a sinister murder/suicide pact. Years later, their mansion is acquired and sold by a pair of sexy female realtors. As they tidy the place up in preparation for the house's new owners, its previous inhabitants begin to re-emerge. It suffers in comparison to the recent TV series American Horror Story, which has exactly the same plot but decent acting, proper scares and (usually) professionalism. There's a surprising lack of puppetry, but The Dead Want Women has the unmistakable fingerprints of Charles Band all over it.
It's boring and padded too much, neither scary nor funny enough to succeed as a comedy or horror movie. The production values are a lot better than expected though, with the eponymous Dead looking impressively sticky. Roberts might not be the plot's main focus, but his role is beefed up enough that he gets plenty of screentime. And Eric Roberts is the only reason to watch The Dead Want Women. His Laurel and Hardy style double act with a chubbier looking zombie is entertaining, as is the film's genuinely creepy looking Phantom of the Opera style fellow. If only Roberts and his chums had made their debut in a better film, there could have been some fun to be had. But like so many Full Moon features, it's a wasted opportunity.
The Hollywood angle combined with its leading lady wanting rebirth and immortality make the plot feel too much like the ending of Seed of Chucky (except somehow worse) and as the zombies chase their unfortunate victims around the mansion, the whole thing descends into a mildly creepy Benny Hill chase sequence. Chained up in the mansion's hidden basement, the girls are stripped naked and groped mercilessly by their undead tormentors. This is an exploitation movie, the nudity and sleaze hoping to distract from the rubbish script and story. More exploitative is Eric Roberts, who also happens to be there for the same reason.
The Dead Want Women is amusingly incompetent as only a Charles Band movie can be. The dead may want women, but what they really need is a complete overhaul.
Video, Audio and Special Features:
Video, audio and special features will not be graded as this was a screener.