There’s a certain point when you realize an actor has fallen upon hard times. Then again, said actor might also be not all there. Like Gary Busey. Sure, he’s fun to watch (depending on what he’s doing), but to be frank, he’s nuts. And given the news that he was fired from Mike Donahue’s Mansion of Blood for his behaviour, it’s no surprise. What’s also not a surprise is that Mansion of Blood is a mess all its own.
Mason Murphy (Ray Quiroga) has just completed renovations on the old Mayhew mansion in River Ridge, Iowa. In celebration, Murphy is hosting a lunar eclipse party at his new digs. The old mansion has had a spotty past, including the disappearance of its original owner in 1926. Things come to a head when young partygoer Samantha (Sarah Alami) casts a spell to summon her dead boyfriend, but instead results in unleashing evil upon the mansion.
The obvious pluses to this film are seeing Gary Busey and Robert Picardo, but also the last appearance of silent screen legend Carla Laemmle in a cameo at the film’s end. Ms. Laemmle’s appearance is nothing to write home about, but given that she was 104 at the time, it’s pretty impressive. Back to Busey, he did try to make things bearable in his limited time on screen (as did Picardo), but there’s only so much you can do with the terrible dialogue they were given.
Busey and Picardo weren’t the only ones to have wretched dialogue. Practically the whole cast had to spit out awkward lines. It was made worse by horrible acting. Alami’s enthusiasm (or lack thereof) at seeing her dead boyfriend again after she summons him is about as far away from seeming genuine as you could get. Quiroga’s delivery of “a slack-jawed idiot” and attempts to appear angry are unintentionally hilarious. One partygoer’s overreaction to seeing the lunar eclipse is to run away screaming “It’s not real!” Granted, it was a blood moon, but come on! I get that Mansion of Blood is supposed to be a horror-comedy, but the quality of the humour is along the same lines as making armpit farts when you’re 30. In front of your parents. At a funeral.
The real joke of this film is its writing. Donahue seems to have thrown everything at the wall to see if it stuck. Murder, midgets, zombies and vampires have been tossed in here in a desperate attempt to make it seem like the film was on its game. Unfortunately, quantity doesn’t equal quality. Tons of characters are introduced, go nowhere other than to be eyecandy in hot tubs, or end up in lame plotlines that involve offing another person, or “hilarious” moments that were poorly executed ripoffs from other films. At least, I think the confrontation between two inheritors of the Mayhew estate where they inch towards potential weapons to club the other was ripped off from another film. Or it was just stupid.
Yeah, let’s go with that.
If the writing in the film is a joke, then the effects might as well be considered the setup. Lame greenscreen effects to show ghosts, even lamer Adobe After Effects work to fake steam from boiling water, and monster costumes that looked like they were from your city’s crappy costume rental place. Seriously, how is wearing a black leotard with a black latex mask, bat ears and cape scary? Hiding the zombies in darkness was probably a smart move. Showing the zombies slowly surrounding a victim and throwing in sounds of them eating the victim? Not so smart. Throw in more lazy editing and camerawork, and finish things off with a lame ending, and congrats, you’ve wasted 90 minutes on this film.
Perhaps getting fired from Mansion of Blood was Busey’s plan all along? Given how the final film turned out, I wouldn’t be surprised. Terrible from the start, this is less Scary Movie in terms of entertainment, and more in terms of Scary Movie 5. It’s not funny, the acting and writing are atrocious, and the film’s saving grace is seeing Robert Picardo and Gary Busey trying to avoid breaking down in tears over their decision to appear in this dreck. See Predator 2 or The Howling if you’re desperate to see those two in horror. Maybe even Gingerdead Man for Busey if you’re desperate. Avoid Mansion of Blood like a dead skunk in the middle of the road.
Presented in 1.78:1 anamorphic widescreen, the quality of the picture fits the film’s low budget. Colours are okay, but the poor lighting in several scenes (notably the shots intended to be daylight) ends up having details swallowed by blackness. There are also some aliasing issues that creep up in some shots, resulting in jagged details. The CGI special effects look cheap, and are SyFy quality, at best.
The Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo track is also typical low budget. Dialogue is inconsistent, sometimes being too quiet and muffled, and often sounds flat. As a result, it’s either the ambient effects that make it difficult to hear, or it’s the soundtrack. Acceptable, but not the greatest.
The only extra included is the film’s trailer. No Buseyisms, unfortunately.
Mansion Of Blood is available now on DVD courtesy of MVD Visual.