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  Twice Dead Mansion Of Madness
Year: 1988
Director: Bert L. Dragin
Stars: Tom Bresnahan, Jill Whitlow, Jonathan Chapin, Christopher Burgard, Sam Melville, Brooke Bundy, Todd Bridges, Shawn Player, Joleen Lutz, Raymond Garcia, Travis McKenna, Charlie Spradling, Lance Wilson-White, Janice Ehrlich, Bob Mclean, Richard Meadows
Genre: HorrorBuy from Amazon
Rating:  6 (from 1 vote)
Review: The Cates family - parents and teenage son and daughter - have been forced by financial circumstances to move home to East Los Angeles and a mansion house they have inherited from a late relative. What they don’t know is the place was first owned by a film star who was obsessed with their great aunt, an actress who shunned his attentions and married someone else, whereupon he hanged himself in an upstairs room, bereft. Could it be his presence still haunts the Cates' new home? Never mind that, as there's a more pressing concern for when they show up at the door there is a gang of punks hanging around outside, and they look to be itching for trouble, so what can siblings Scott (Tom Bresnahan) and Robin (Jill Whitlow) do?

Signs you were in an eighties exploitation movie number one: there were a bunch of young, leather clad, carefully coiffed hoodlums hanging around, and you could bet they were going to cause a commotion before long. Twice Dead was ostensibly a horror flick, but for quite a lot of its running time it appeared to be more influenced by the Death Wish sequels in that the gang was there to be overcome with violence by our heroes, pretty much the template for countless low budget action thrillers during this decade. Not that it actually stepped over the line to having Bresnahan and Whitlow wielding swiftly rustled up rocket launchers and AK-47s to beat back the bad guys, as there was a supernatural solution.

The ghost is initially glimpsed in mirrors by both Scott and Robin, though at separate times, which leads us to believe that when the gang seize their opportunity and break into the mansion, the spectre is manipulating things to see them off with extreme prejudice. We have already witnessed how down and dirty nasty they can be as our two protagonists have encountered them at school (despite the younger cast plainly being in their mid-twenties) where they had the temerity to beat up their new friend, Diff'rent Strokes star Todd Bridges. Before you can ask him what he's talking about, he suffers the all-too predictable fate of many a black guy in a horror movie, though that was the least of his problems as it turned out.

Let's not dwell on real life issues, and concentrate on the escapism, for though this was absurd to the point of goofiness, and wasn't exactly what you could call accomplished in its field, it did have its charms. Much of that was down to its passing familiarity with reality, as there was nothing here you could imagine would actually happen, including the non-paranormal business such as where Scott and Robin get into a car chase in their customised hearse as gang leader Silk (Christopher Burgard) encouraged his creep of a right hand man Crip (Jonathan Chapin, who for reasons that become obvious also played the deceased movie star in the flashbacks and apparitions) to step on the gas, briefly turning this into a gearhead mini-epic.

They are only foiled by a coffin launched from the back of the hearse by Scott, but he’s a resourceful chap, especially when it comes to protecting his sister who has already suffered the sight of her pet cat (which she called by saying "Meow?") stuck to the front door by a flick knife when the gang got truly threatening. Naturally, the cops can do nothing since the miscreants were wearing masks at the time, so cannot be identified in an example of the sort of stupid laws Charles Bronson would regularly bemoan in his action efforts, so the solution is a novel one, Scott stepping up to the mark once again. Not to spoil anything, this isn't quite enough, and the final act sees the gang meeting the wrath of the ghost, including the scene that most recall where Charlie Spradling straddles her boyfriend for sex, but then he's electrocuted and she enjoys an electrifying orgasm while she breathes her last. The rest of it was nowhere near as bad taste, mostly divertingly silly though there was some gore, but the non-ending was more irritation since nobody really won. Music by David Bergaud.
Reviewer: Graeme Clark


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