After the initial mean-spirited sacrifice of a little girl by Mayan cultists, The Laughing Dead spends an excruciatingly dull forty minutes on build-up: a bunch of obnoxious characters (including a loud man who tells bad jokes, his irritable friend, a troubled teen stowaway, and a new-age hippie couple) join Father O'Sullivan (Tim Sullivan) on his annual archaeological expedition to a Mexican town celebrating the 'festival of the laughing dead'.
On the way, they coach stops to pick up a woman, Tess (Wendy Webb ), and her potty-mouthed son Ivan (Patrick Roskowick). Father O'Sullivan recognises Tess - an ex-nun with whom he had a love affair - and realises that Ivan is his son. Nothing of any real interest happens until the halfway point, when the group finally arrives at the town and settles in at a hotel, at which point it's as though someone has slipped some peyote into the drinks of everyone involved - the film suddenly goes completely bonkers, with lots of gory, surreal deaths, the bloody action culminating in a game of basketball with zombies and a battle between two Mexican kaiju! It doesn't make much sense, but at least it's entertaining.
The splattery fun starts with a woman ripping open her bare chest, pulling out her still beating heart, and swopping blood pumps with Father O'Sullivan, who becomes possessed by the 'death god'. The next fun effect is the (none-too-soon) decapitation of one of brash joker Dozois (Raymond Ridenour), his severed bonce flying out of a window to land in a basketball hoop; meanwhile his headless torso spurts claret from the neck wound. And there's a juicy moment when the group's coach - driven by supernatural forces - rolls over a man's head. Meanwhile, the cult's leader, Dr. Um-tzec (played by director Somtow) is busy ripping the hearts out of numerous blue-faced kiddies, with his eye on Ivan as the ultimate sacrifice. Perhaps the most memorable scene of all involves the possessed priest going crazy in the hotel lobby: he punches his fist through a woman's skull, squelching her brains in his hand, and then pulls off a man's arm and pushes it down the guy's throat, the fingers visibly twitching in his neck!
The crazy finalé involves the survivors fighting the forces of evil by trying to throw a basketball through a stone hoop, their opponents being a team of mouldy reanimated corpses. As the game plays out, Dr. Um-tzec and mulleted research assistant Cal (Ryan Effner) transform into giant rubbery creatures and duke it out. In the end, Ivan takes responsibility and throws the winning shot, and Father O'Sullivan is returned to normal when Tess declares her love for him, at which point I imagine the effects of the peyote wore off and everyone wondered what the hell they had been doing for the past few days.
5.5/10, rounded up to 6 for IMDb. It's totally nonsensical, but packs in lots of impressive practical special effects. If anything, the film answers that burning question 'What should I do if I find Mayan graffiti scrawled on a wall in what looks like fresh blood?'. Why, dip your finger in it and taste it, of course!
The Laughing Dead
Action / Horror
The Laughing Dead
Action / Horror
Zombies, demons, and a mad doctor await a bus-load of folks looking for a tour of Aztec ruins. Father O'Sullivan is a Catholic priest who has lost his faith in God and who cannot forget the nun with whom he once had an affair (and a son). O'Sullivan serves as tour guide for archaeological student Cal, New Agers Wilbur and Clarisse Lemming, runaway Laurie, and tourists Dozois and Frost on a bus trip to Mexico. No one is more surprised than O'Sullivan when his love, Tessie, also boards the bus with her bratty son Ivan. In Mexico, Cal reveals his knowledge of a crucial ancient text, just in time for the Day of the Dead festivities. Meanwhile, evil Dr. Um-tzec is planning an apotheosis for himself that will culminate in his incarnation as the Death God, and what he needs to accomplish this is the hearts of sacrificial children ... lots and lots of hearts. While Father O'Sullivan grapples with the emotions of seeing Tessie again, he is approached by Dr. Um-tzec to perform an exorcism; but Um-tzec has deceived him and O'Sullivan is thereafter occasionally possessed by the Death God. Fighting the possession, O'Sullivan tries to rescue Ivan, who is regarded as a perfect sacrificial victim. Now Tessie, Cal, Laurie, and the bickering Lemmings must pull together to stop Dr. Um-tzec and O'Sullivan from completing the apotheosis ritual. —Fiona Kelleghan
Uploaded By: FREEMAN
November 16, 2021 at 01:15 AM