Thursday, September 29, 2011

Moon Over Miami: Dead Man's Hand/The Haunted Casino

Who needs a plot when you have C-List horror stars?  All kidding aside, I like Sid Haig and Michael Berryman.  I like Haig a little less because of the Rob Zombie connection.  To be fair, he was awesome in Galaxy of Terror, even if his own blade killed him.  As for Berryman, he mostly does bad movies because of his reputation and looks.  The bottom line: you don't cast him as the 'Wacky Uncle.'  So with this in mind, let's look at this 2007 cheapie from Charles Band- Dead Man's Hand: Casino of the Damned.  Oh, I mean, The Haunted Casino.  Despite the DVD on Netflix having the first title- and the film itself having it too- the movie is listed on Full Moon Direct under the second.  Both titles are silly, but at least the newer one relates more than a one-time line right before the end of the movie.  So what is this movie about?  Criminal ghosts inhabit a casino and try to kill people, since one of them is related to the guy who killed them.  Sounds like a Full Moon plot to me!  To find out how silly this really is, read on...
We get a shit-ton of filler here.  I'll spare you most of it and just give you this summary of what happens before the real horror begins...

- Two people check out the Casino and die.  More on them in a future Poor Bastards of Cinema induction.
- Our heroes show up to check out the place.  Their characters break down into Final Guy, Final Girl, Nerd Girl, Joke Guy, Slut Girl and Rocker Guy.
- They see random ghosts, which are signaled with changes to the lighting.  How?  Good question!
- They set up some H.L.A. (look it up) between Slut Girl and Nerd Girl...but never follow it up one bit.  Why would you set that up and do nothing?!?  Damn you, Charles Band!

All caught up now?  Good.  Scream.
Forty-five minutes into the film, the guys with above-the-title billing finally show up.  No, I don't count the fake newspaper shots of Haig and Berryman as 'them appearing.'  The guys were Casino heads who tried to kill our hero's uncle and were killed themselves.  It just so happens that our heroes showed up 24 hours before the 40th Anniversary of the deaths.  Right.
Our heroes are presented with 'games of chance' by the ghosts of those killed.  The ghosts cheat their asses off and kill most of the cast.  Real nice.
There's even a sub-plot where Rock Guy and Slut Girl get into a fight- since he has performance issues- and the ghost of a Waitress gets between them.  This leads to her showing her evil, ghost form and killing Slut Girl.  That was pretty pointless...but it did pad out the film.
After the deaths of 90% of the cast, our heroes put everything up to one last game of chance.  They win, so Haig lets them go, choosing not to cheat in this game...for once.  You want closure?  Tough shit.  The End.
Nobody wins in this Casino.  The plot of this movie is a waste of time.  I wish that I could say nicer things about it, but I can't.  They don't explain why the ghosts have powers.  Mind you, it's a step to assume that people can just come back to life as ghosts in the first place, let alone have reality-warping powers!  Most films that pull shit like this have them 'involved in voodoo' or 'brought back by Satan.'  Something- anything at all!  Aside from the fact that the plot makes no sense, it's just poorly-paced.  It takes forty-five minutes for anything of real value to happen, spending the rest of the time setting up the characters that just die off abruptly later.  All of the character sub-plots- including a romance between Nerd Girl and Joke Guy, the H.L.A. set-up & the Rock Guy, Slut Girl and Ghost Waitress- amount to nothing!  They are literally just there to pad out the film.  Speaking of padding, all of the 'ghosts challenge our heroes' scenes feel the same, making their numerous appearances feel longer than they should.  I could also point some major inconsistencies- like an F/X shot showing the first victim's head melting and his body being found with an intact head- throughout the film.  Plus, the bad guy from Blood Dolls is here playing a guy with an egg-shaped head.  Does he have head-variance written into his contracts?!?  If you like Full Moon films, you'll ignore all of this and probably like it no matter what I say though.
Do you like mummies from space?  Too bad- this film is mostly about PG-13 lesbians.  Stay tuned...

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