For most people a trip to New Orleans for Mardi Gras means a weekend of excessive drinking, a gross excess of public nudity and a noticeable decrease in sensitivity about where you use the restroom. For 6 radio station prize winners, their trip to The Big Easy turns out to be anything but, as they find themselves victims of a psychotic slasher. Can this group of clueless party animals get their act together long enough to figure out who the slayer is, or is this years bash going to be their last? It’s killers and King Cake, Mardi Gras, murder and lesbians….let the good times roll!
Shot in New Orleans just before Hurricane Katrina hit, HOODOO FOR VOODOO offers something a little bit different for low-budget film fans that are tired of watching “Teens killed by rednecks after their car breaks down” or “clowns that attack” films. It offers an honest-to-God location. Sure some of the film takes place at a house and perhaps a backyard or two. But, it also managed to drag a crew to the biggest party of the year for some free production value. Toss in an airport, some cop cars and an inspired bar sequence and you’ve got a pretty high-end looking direct to video film on your hands. And, while HOODOO FOR VOODOO has plenty of amateur acting on display, it also manages to collect a veritable “Scream Queen Hall of Fame” for a series of appearances.
Cult film fans take note, not only does HOODOO FOR VOODOO manage to get a pop-up cameo from never-stop-filming star Debbie Rochon, it also casts the legendary Linnea Quigley (RETURN OF THE LIVING DEAD) as Queen Marie (the Voodoo Priestess) and Horror Princess Tiffany Shepis—who appears long enough for a few scenes, including the requisite nude-lesbian-make-out-death-scene (every film should have one of those!). If that wasn’t enough microbudget mayhem for your jaded palate then by the time Lloyd Kaufman’s drunken ass comes swaggering across the screen you’ll have likely OD’d on all the lunacy.
The problem with bringing in Quigley, Shepis, Rochon and let’s face it, even Kaufman, is that they can all act circles around the rest of the cast. And that’s too bad, because the script from Co-Writer/Director Steven Shea (THE NIGHT OWL) has some pretty funny moments that the assembled cast can’t quite manage to convey. Still, the situational humor and the skewed sense of satire is well represented with a few very funny pop culture references and a Hooters-esque bar scene that offers something a little more than orange hot pants and bare midriffs for its patrons.
However—despite all the wit on display—this is a horror movie too, and that’s where HOODOO FOR VOODOO comes up a bit short. The kills are all pretty perfunctory with little in the way of real gore. In some ways it seems like this might have been on purpose because the humor is clearly more prevalent than the violence. But, I think Peter Jackson and Edgar Wright have both shown us that you can still make a funny horror film that is oversaturated in sticky arterial spray. Of course those guys have a lot more money to spend on effects work than the filmmakers behind this movie were tossing around. Still, if you’re looking for cutting edge kills on display here, you’re going to be a bit disappointed. However, if you’re really broken up about that, you could always rewind the Tiffany Shepis sex scene. That brightens my day every time. But, I digress.
In the world of low budget direct to DVD fare that inundates the dump bins of Best Buy and clogs the aisles of Blockbuster stores every week; it’s hard to make a product stand out. For Scream Queen fans who will watch Shepis and Rochon in pretty much anything this will be another notch in their ever-lengthening belt. But, if you’re looking for a quirky horror film that’s a bit light on the horror and a bit heavy on pop culture references than you might want to check this one out. After all, a little Mardi Gras madness never hurt anyone…unless the photographs surface on MySpace!