Written by August White
Directed by Charles Band
J.J. ...Robin Sydney
Roy "The Word" Donahue...Sid Haig
Gil Wachetta...Michael Berryman
Young dreamer Matthew inherits an abandoned Las Vegas casino from his uncle, and with the encouragement of his girlfriend J.J., he plans to fix the place up and return it to its former glory. Four of their friends accompany them on a road trip to the new digs, only to find that it's not just a marketing slogan:
What happens in Vegas really does stay in Vegas. And that includes the dead.
The Mysteria Casino was the site of a notorious massacre forty years prior, in which mobster Roy "The Word" Donahue, his henchman Gil Wachetta, and three of their cohorts were gunned down by Matt's uncle in an effort to protect his property. Donahue and the Devil are relatively tight, it appears, because the massacred mafioso and his bloody buddies all crop up in search of a bit of vengeance.
This is an unabashed, low-budget riff on Stanley Kubrick's The Shining, with just a change of scenery to mix things up a bit. Despite its meager origins, it is a relatively well-made film. But that isn't to say that it doesn't have its problems.
There are a couple of plot points that never pan out to full fruition, including a mention of a buried stash of silver, and a burgeoning lesbian romance. Now allow me to state here that a horror movie does not have to have sex and nudity to be entertaining (although, speaking as a red-blooded male, it sure doesn't hurt), but the entire movie is over-sexualized, so it seems quite out of place that there is no nudity, and very little sex. Two of the characters consistently pretend to be having sex in order to hide the male's impotence, and the movie seems to be mirroring that. When it comes to T&A, this is just one big cock tease.
The characters often behave in unbelievable ways--Matthew and J.J. seem completely unfazed by the fact that they're holding a conversation with a ghost. The special effects are sometimes goofy, too, as when a ghost appears and her eyes turn into the wheels of a slot machine like a character in a Warner Brothers cartoon for no discernable reason other than the fact that this movie does take place in a casino.
Is it too much to ask to find a low-budget feature that at least tries to take itself seriously?
However, any movie with Sid Haig and Michael Berryman has got a few things going for it. Berryman is perfect as the strong and silent type, saying very little but commanding the screen just the same. Haig is impressive as always as the loudmouthed mobster, and the pair of them together constitute a dynamic duo that I would hate to meet in a dark alley at night.
Most of you have already seen Full Moon movies before, so you know what you're getting into if you sit down to watch this one.
Down and dirty. Cheap and cheesy.
Depending on your tastes...perhaps deliciously so.
ALSO KNOWN AS: Dead Man's Hand