Featuring: Scott “Reeker” Whyte , Michael “The Hills Have Eyes” Berryman , Sig “Spider-Baby” Haig
Director: Charles “Evil Bong” Band
Writer: Dominic “Critters” Muir
Also Known As: The Haunted Casino
Anyway, Dead Man’s Hand: Casino of the Damned. For starters, what’s the Jerry Seinfeld with that title?! It’s a major fucking mouthful and I’m not even speaking it out loud! Could Band not decide on one of the two title ideas he came up with, so he just threw them together?! A title that long is usually reserved for a sequel! I can see confused people at 2007 Blockbuster stores (or just current NetFlix users) thinking to themselves, “I never saw the original Dead Man’s Hand, so I won’t know what’s going on in Casino of the Damned. Oh well, I’ll just have to rent Corky Romano instead.” Now I can blame Charles Band for giving money to Corky Romano! Somebody get Kevin Murphy on the horn.
After originally settling on this as my next rerun review, I ended up searching all of the usual torrent spots for a copy and come up with a big middle-finger-shaped ZERO for hits. I took to YouTube and all of the usual streaming suspects to try and find an Isis damned source, all for NAUGHT. The cheap bastard internet failed me. Finally, I had to break down and rent it from Amazon for $2.99. Yes, I paid the better part of three American dollars to sit through this stupid, stupid movie again. If you enjoy this review and would like to contribute to the Anubis Suffered for Our Entertainment Relief Fund Refund, please make PayPal donations to email@example.com… my tombofanubis account was seized by the FBI for suspected terrorist activity. Start ONE KickStarter to have Uwe Boll publicly drawn and quartered on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial and they call me the terrorist! Blart.
Hope you’ve got your pillows and pajamas on standby dear readers, because it’s time for a mouthful of concentrated narcolepsy.
In an effort by Chuck Band to cash in on the revitalized career of Sig Haig following The Devil’s Rejects, as well as the world’s never-lost love for gambling, here comes Dead Man’s Hand: Casino of the Damned. Oh Charles Band, how you refuse to let your Full Moon set. After Evil Bong I wondered if you’d really have the plugots to stick around and try yet again to squeeze blood from one more turnip… and not karo syrup either, I mean actual blood… by which I mean money… huh? Stop trying to confuse me with your mind games Band! Damn you! You will not beat me this time! I will watch DMHCotD and I will be endowed with a peace-of-self that Buddha only wishes he could achieve!… or just hate it with a seething irritation unseen since I last forced my guts to digest a whole jar of spicy pickled eggs. Now, watch me air guitar “Run to the Hills” as we fade into the play-by-play for tonight’s horizontal bop…
The first thing I noticed is that the Full Moon opening logo has been updated from the classic “rising moon” motif into a slightly fancier “flurry of bats” version. Though I prefer the original, it really is more an icon of the “1990s direct-to-video” legacy. The new one’s actually not shittily done either, so I guess I approve. Hopefully this isn’t the best in store for the next 90 minutes of my life, though a familiar stabbing pain in my kidneys makes me think otherwise… and tells me I’ve probably been drinking way too much in recent weeks. Speaking of which, what exactly are the next 90 minutes of my life about? Well, an 8 minute intro scene that establishes the tissue paper thin plot (and wanders aimlessly for the other 7 minutes and 54 seconds) insists on our attention before we even get to the opening credits. Already my teeth are floating and I now wish I hadn’t sold my last blunt to my former 10th grade art teacher… who soooo wants me to pose nude for her next night school class. The topic is lewd cubist etchings! Looks like I better get to work trimming my pubes into a whimsical topiary before Tuesday!
There’s a story in here somewhere, and its whimpering cries sound a little like this: Matt (Scott Whyte) inherits the abandoned remains of the Dragna Mysteria Casino from his recently deceased uncle, Franco Dragna. That’s a name so hokey I’d be willing to bet my Cyberfrog back issues that Band lifted it straight from a circa ‘60s Stan Lee tale. You know, back when every month there was a new giant monster with a single-syllable name like Groot or Mung or Klur, or the occasional double-syllable name like Zarkorr… which Band outright stole for his $40 kaiju claptrap Zarkorr the Invader. That’s right Chuck, I know of your four-color plagiary. Meet me on Pier 19 at 2:43am. Bring 10,000 blank DVD-R’s and a set of Puppet Master statuettes. Come alone… not to be confused with what you do while crying into your bath towels on the toilet every night before bed.
Wasn’t there supposed to be a movie somewhere in between all these random tirades? Shit, I’m only 10 minutes into the damn thing and I’ve already finished my third paragraph…
Matt and his undeservedly cute girlfriend Jennifer (Robin Sydney, who reminds me of Laura San Giacomo with nicer hair and sans Letterman tooth gap) take a road trip to claim his new rundown party spot, bringing along their friends who I will name Stoner (Jeff Spicolli protege), Groaner (fun-hating protocol nerd), and Boner & BoneHer (horny “beautiful people” couple). Matt and Jen are the “in love” couple, Stone and Groan are the non-couple pair from opposite sides of the main couple’s friend spectrum who can’t stand each other, while ‘Ner and Her are the pseudo sex mongers with the “pseudo” part actually being a “kinda funny” take on the slasher stereotype in that “little blue pill” kinda way…
He suffers from Erectile Dysfunction is what I’m alluding to there. She just bangs on the walls of their motel room and makes fake orgasm sounds to perpetuate the falsehood of raucous sex time so Boner’s buddies don’t need to know about his floppy jalopy.
Apparently unhappy with the caliber of desperate young actors he can get now as opposed to 15 years ago, once the kids get to the abandoned casino Band has them spend a lot of time as little more than talking silhouettes. Maybe they get paid by the scene, and scenes where their faces are obscured pay less? I dunno. While Jen tries to build up Matt’s confidence about wanting to re-open the dump and make money off of Nevada’s Welfare gambling addicts and old people on assisted living, one of the old slot machines she pops a quarter into coughs up bloody teeth instead of Chuck E. Cheese tokens! Looks like there’s something wrong at the Mysteria… though the violently killed janitor and executor of the estate in the beginning could’ve told you the same thing. Did I forget to mention that part? Don’t worry, it wasn’t important.
Thanks to an old (conveniently placed) publication of the Las Vegas Daily Plot that Matt finds amidst the one-armed bandits, we learn that 40 years (and a day) prior to our cast’s arrival, five mobsters were killed at that very casino (on a dark and stormy night, no doubt). The two most notable bodies being man-in-charge Roy “the Word” Donahue (Sid Haig) and his hired goon Gil (Michael Berryman). Uncle Franco was trying to run a legit gambling house back in the ‘60s, but Roy and friends didn’t like Draga not sharing any slices of his Lucky 7 gamble pie. I know how they feel too, because when my Uncle Horus took the last slice of pumpkin pie at Thanksgiving a few years ago, his arm needed 30 skin graft surgeries and most of his ass flesh before it looked like anything resembling a humanoid limb again.
As you can guess, those five dead bad guys are now haunting the place and ready to get back to taking pieces from other peoples’ pies. This time said pies being the bodies of our cast of generic twenty-somethings. Various toenail yanking gambling puns are made, there’s a lot of drawn out screen time where literally nothing happens, and finally, 50 or so minutes into the mire, ghost Roy and his phantom posse pop up to say hi. The ghouls threaten to pretty much rape and torment the kids (not necessarily in that order), but rather than get right to it they have time to pad out before then, so first they mention a secret stash of 2 million in silver that Franco hid somewhere in the casino. This tidbit leaves Matt adequately interested in sticking around. I get the feeling they’ll all have ectoplasm in their cornholes come morning, but I guess some people would rather be rich and ghost raped than poor and and with their not ghost raped dignity intact.
Even when the group says fuck the hidden treasure and try to escape, they find the exits have all been barricaded and no cell phone signal can escape the supernatural structure… not unlike when I swing by one of Dionysus’ booze blitzes on Mount Olympus, where no cell service provider dares trek. Anyway, each of Roy and Gil’s supporter spooks has their own alternate form that reflects their casino jobs in their past lives: the slots girl is a banshee with slots for eyes, the black jack dealer turns into a machete wielding poker card Jack with black hair, and the roulette guy… has a fat round head. I’m getting flashbacks of the ulcer encouraging cenobites (“cenoshites” being a more appropriate term me thinks) of Hellraiser III, and flashbacks like that more often than not result a flare up of my Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, so let’s not talk about them anymore.
In the end the title poker hand comes into play, and the silver plot point feels more like a bad afterthought than an integral part of the “story”, much like our two marquee names’ roles. Oh yeah, and there’s also a little mathematical discrepancy about just how many people the ghostly quintet kills in the repayment of the blood debt Matt inherited from his uncle. I’d say I was surprised, but I literally have no poker face. Seriously, every year I get together with the pantheon of deities and we have a Texas Hold ‘Em tourney. In an effort to avoid my usual tells I tear off my own face. If I could figure out how to play without my eyeballs too I’d win every time! Unfortunately, I do not win with DMHCotD. No one wins with it. Actually, that’s not 100% confirmed. It’s possible that the old adage stays true and the house wins, so long as Full Moon managed to recoup whatever their costs were on this wheel of CHUD cheese. At this point I’ve pretty much given up hope on Charles Band turning his act around, so I’d rather this particular house burn… to the ground… then be buried in a large hole… and eaten by Graboids… who are then harvested, shot in the face with an elephant gun, melted down with corrosive acid, dished into an old Cool Whip container, and buried 75 miles beneath the North Pole… amidst flesh eating bacterium… and radioactive polar bear droppings… and even then I will still not know true peace.
I don’t expect genius from Full Moon features. I don’t expect high art, or even passable art. I don’t ask for blockbuster cinema or high concept filmmaking. But come on, if I have to watch stupid hollow characters give me lessons on being disposable, at least dish them out to me en masse and have ’em grotesquely dispatched equally so. And how the fuck do you introduce the seeds for a potential lesbo love scene (turns out Groaner’s got a wet spot for BoneHer) and not deliver on it Band!? Did you really have to toss out the shameless displays of horny male placation along with the already questionable “good” qualities once associated with Full Moon’s productions?! Come on, man. You’re not only insulting the fans at this point, but you’re insulting their semi-iconic bad movie heroes as well by suckering them into your cinematic quicksand, then dealing them out a meager 5 minutes of screen time! For shame. Your movie gets a big fat raspberry. I don’t mean a regular raspberry either, I mean a raspberry delivered with the disgust the general public reserves for Hitler, and razzed by a tongue infected with those gooey rupturing pustules from Planet Terror!
And then there’s Rihanna, who I’d give a DNA whitewashing to so fast you’d think she’d gotten the Michael Jackson express skin bleach treatment. She’s not in this movie, and I don’t think she’d ever be caught dead (or undead) watching it, but showering her in my nut custard is tops on my “shit I think about when the movie sucks” list. I don’t care if she does look like she’s sporting peg legs when she’s wearing ballet shoes in the video for that umbrella song! Speaking of women who make my pole stand up and salute, she hasn’t seen the movie (and never will), but I can guarantee you that my Evil Dead Bride won’t be too pleased when I tell her that one of the characters quotes Dostoyevsky in a movie that thinks the term “ghoulette wheel” constitutes wit. I can hear her copy of The Brothers Karamazov trying to break its own binding from here. With any luck, her promise that she reads my reviews is just to make me feel better about wasting my time on them and she never actually learns this horrible horrible truth. As for me, here comes that PTSD again…
Xtro: You know what’s worse than a really low budget amateur horror movie made on the proverbial shoestring budget? A really BORING low budget PROFESSIONAL horror movie made on a BOOTLACE budget. Both Charles Bland and Dominic Muir have been making movies for decades, so you can’t blame this meandering chore disguised as a full length movie on being the work of know-nothing first-timers. Though low to be sure, this budget obviously wasn’t miniscule, yet I’ve seen lesser money do more because those productions at least had some gusto behind them. Granted, it was dollar store gusto (the name of my imaginary band Sex Golem’s unplugged album), but a little gusto goes a lot further than the lazy ass “we need to put together a movie in 7 hours before the car wash owner we convinced to finance us sues us for spending all of his money on scratch-off lotto tickets!” movie we were stuck with.
DMH:CotD will either cure your insomnia or infect you with ADHD. It’s got so much padding to it, I wouldn’t be surprised to see Martin Lawrence wearing it under a house dress in another Big Momma’s House sequel. The first five minutes are spent watching a janitor (who we’ll call Scruffy) and an estate lawyer (who we’ll call Single Female Lawyer) wandering around the dust and cobweb strewn titular gambling establishment to “prepare” it for Matt’s arrival. FIVE MINUTES. Sure, at the end they’re both killed (Scruffy apparently getting his face ripped off by the Evil Dead “first person camera” demons), but their sacrifices aren’t worth the effort it takes the viewers to get there. And there’s a LOT of equally aimless scenes to be had over the course of this tiptoe through the poppy fields. My least favorite of which would have to be watching Boner take pics of BoneHer in the so-called gambling establishment of damnation for her website. It’s only 60 seconds, but it’s 60 seconds of him just taking pictures, pretending to be aroused, and saying generic stuff like “You look so killer, babe!” and “These are gonna look sooooo good for your website!”. My only hope is that this scene was born of poor ad-libbing and that Muir didn’t actually waste the printer ink on putting this excuse for dialog into the actual script.
When the ghosts finally do show up, they don’t really do much at first. Again, gotta pad the run time. Can’t afford to shoot any scenes outside of the cheap set they rented for the afternoon, so said padding has to be done within the casino. When the killing does get underway, it just involves the spooks handcuffing their victims to gaming tables, then cheating them at Black Jack and Roulette as an excuse to dismember them. Except for BoneHer, who just gets her face supernaturally sandblasted off by the ghost of the slot machine girl after she calls Slots a “skank” for trying to wake up Boner’s pliant pony. Dead or alive, bitches don’t front. Also, when the ghosts are about to kill their victims, they turn from perfectly human looking specters into big weird puppet headed things with goofy glowing red eyes taken out of a SegaCD FMV. These “visions of horror” are goofy. They’re mega goofy. They’re so damn goofy that they’re goofier than a dozen alternate timeline Goofys having a circle jerk, and all their penises have Goofy faces on them that go “HYUK!” after every stroke. In other words: the goofiest Goofy to ever goof.
Well, Sid Haig and Michael Berryman aren’t goofy. They’re spared the corny rubber heads because they never actually kill anyone. That’s right, Captain Spaulding and Brother Pluto are in your movie as murderous gangster ghosts and they don’t kill ANYONE. What the fuck are you doing, Charles Bland?! Do you hire these guys for your movie just to show us that you can make them completely un-cool at your petty whims?! Shit. You already ruined the Full Moon name, but do you have to rub it in our faces all the harder by infecting the filmographies of good horror icons with vulgar tumors like this!? No wonder your mother cursed your name before throwing herself into that alligator pit. You’re a monster!
As far as the review itself goes, the movie hasn’t aged well. But, given that it was dog shit to start with, you can’t really expect dog shit to improve or deteriorate with age. Either way it’s still dog shit, so DMH is what it is. I’m finding myself becoming a bigger fan of Robin Sydney though, every time I see her. Not for her acting chops, but because she’s my type. Well, in regards to “actresses I would’ve beat off to back in high school before free internet porn was readily available on EVERY DEVICE IN THE HOUSE”. I just watched a boner burner on my microwave last night! …though that may have just been a bowl of tacos and hot dogs I was reheating. Either way, my penis thanks you, Robin Sydney. Beyond that, I’m pretty disappointed in myself from 7 years ago for failing to make a “not to be confused with the Goulet Wheel” joke upon mention of the movie’s ghoulette wheel gag. Especially now that Robert Goulet’s dead, that joke’s well past its own expiration date. Oh well, hindsight’s a story on “20/20”!
In closing, I’d like to echo Roy’s final words from the movie as my last sentiment for this movie “Fuck you!”. Now I’m getting out of here, as I have more important things to do today. I Tivo’d “Jeopardy”!
Moral of the Story: “Seems to me like your withered wang can use all the help it can get.” If Dead Man’s Hand is any indicator of the status of Charles Band’s “wang”, we’re gonna need a few thousand cc’s of extra strength boner juice before we get anything resembling another Trancers or Puppet Master. Chuck? This is nature’s way of saying Full Moon shouldn’t be allowed to reproduce anymore. Stop with the Mexican knock-off Viagra and just retire. Nobody wants to see your flaccid old nub anymore.
“Converting this abandoned men’s room into a luxury water bar for rich dogs is my ticket to the good life!”
She’s cute, but she takes up all the covers… and the bed… and she farts in her sleep… like, a LOT.
“Remember how I told you I had an IUD put in last month so you couldn’t get me pregnant? Well… here it is! Hello 18 years of child support payments! Tee-hee.”
“It’s okay, honey. I’m sure plenty of guys get unintentionally turned on at family reunions. Aunt Cally will probably forget all about your disturbing tent pitching by Christmas… 2028.”
Sounds like the kinda place named by a really bad DM in the worst game of Dungeons & Dragons ever.
Hey, it’s “The Sunday Night NBC Mystery Movie“! (shout out to my SoL peeps)
Separated at birth or just separated at beard? You decide!
After the last incident, Greg only reads his “Goosebumps” stories now while sitting on the toilet.
“ANY girl can get an engagement ring, but with this gift shop hat and these dollar store cobwebs, you’ve won my heart forever! Yes! A thousand times ‘YES’! I WILL become Mrs. Ralph Hapschatt!”
I know that look. It’s the one my grandfather always used to get right before he told you to pull his finger. My advice: don’t pull Sid Haig’s finger.
Ah, the look of a man who regrets putting “I’ll try anything once” in his Craigslist “Casual Encounters” ad. I know it well… painfully, painfully well.
“I know you’re really upset right now and you probably want some personal space, but that’s the only hand towel we’ve got… and… I kinda need to… dry my hands… so…”
It’s Anne Coulter! Somebody get the duct tape and gasoline from my trunk!
I hate that guy. He’s such a Jack-off!… cuz he’s a Jack… like the poker cards?… I’m going to die alone, aren’t I?
If Band doesn’t stop putting that stupid Gingerdead Man costume in all of his movies, the thing’s gonna be more beat up than Godzilla’s in Hedorah the Smog Monster! Hmmm, a lot of very niche jokes today… not predicting strong numbers on this review.
If the Ninja Turtles are the product of turtles doused in mutagen following exposure to humans, I’m pretty sure Michael Berryman is a product of the opposite.
Anubis will return next time in
“Minor-Ass-Itch Rides Again”
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