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Wednesday, April 24, 2019

Twice Dead (1988)




I found yet another eighties flick that I never caught back in my tape renting days. This one was bundled together with another flick on a Roger Corman presents DVD, but it doesn’t appear he did anything other than distribute it. Time to check out the strangest ghost story that I’ve ever seen on film.

Things kick off in the thirties with an actor dancing the night away with a dummy dressed like his lost love. We don’t know this at the time but later on it is explained. A man shows up with the police to serve him an eviction notice. By the time they find him he has hung himself. Fast forward decades later with a family, including teenage brother and sister, moving into the old creepy house. They have inherited it from the woman who was the actors lost love. He apparently deeded it to her to try and win her back… it didn’t work obviously. When the family arrives is when the shenanigans begin.

Before they even get in the house, they are accosted by a gang that has decided the front yard is their hangout spot. Things get defused when the cops arrive, but you just know that it isn’t over. Just minutes after getting inside the weird stuff begins with a strange figure in a mirror watching them. That is followed by dreams, footsteps, and a creepy noose banging on a wall. In a strange twist things don’t get too crazy until the gang breaks into the house and holds the brother and sister hostage. That is when all hell breaks loose.

Twice Dead is an odd movie, as I mentioned earlier. This is one of those reviews where I’m going to have to drop some spoilers so be warned. Okay that seems like enough of a heads up on my part. This is the first time where I’ve ever watched a movie about a haunted house where the ghost comes to the rescue, not once but twice! The guy who killed himself sees in the teenage daughter the woman who he loved, which makes sense since she is her granddaughter by another man. When she or the family is in danger, he protects them. I’ve seen similar things in movies like the Uninvited (the original with Ray Milland) but then it was a ghost vs. ghost thing. Here the ghost is protecting them from the gang. I thought that was clever and a welcome twist to the subgenre of haunted house/ghost stories. But that is last positive thing I have to say.

There are so many things that go wrong with Twice Dead. First there are some serious pacing issues with this one. Way too much time is spent on the gang and their threats and attacks on the family. There are three encounters before the final one that brings things to a head. One is enough to establish them as bad guys, the rest are wasted time. We also get a glorified cameo from Todd Bridges of Different Strokes fame. He shows up to play basketball and die… Not kidding. That is another waste of time. Hell, anything that takes place outside the house is pointless. They really should have focused on the ghost story.

Creepy guy in the mirror...
The second issue is the dumbest thing that Twice Dead does which has to do with the gang. In response to being attacked the brother and sister wait for the gang to come back and break into the house to set up an elaborate series of pranks to scare the hell out of them. They do this when their parents are out of town so they know that is when they will be attacked. This also after one of the gang members has already attempted to rape the sister twice and killed the family cat by pinning it to the back door! I get suspending disbelief but Damn it to Hell people this is ridiculous. You call the cops and don’t piss off the gang even more by screwing with them! When they come back a fourth time with murder on their minds it makes total sense due to how badly the brother and sister taunted them. Even when this is all resolved there is a twist ending that is added on at the end that makes no sense and feels forced. I won’t spoil that here but trust me it isn’t good.

I guess expecting logic out of your “B” horror movies might be silly. But is it really too much to ask for at least an attempt to make sense? I could go on about the special effects work, acting, and music all being okay. The truth is I just can’t get over some of the dumb decisions made by the characters in this nonsensical plot. That ruins the movie for me and I’m going to have to recommend everyone pass on Twice Dead. Simply not worth the time.


© Copyright 2019 John Shatzer

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