The Dead Want Women (2012): The Living Want Chicken and a Nap

Mars might need ‘em, Mel Gibson might claim to know what they want, and Neil Diamond might know that a girl will be one soon, but when it comes to women, the dead want ‘em. That is if you take the title of the newest Full Moon feature at its word, and if you cant trust a paragon of virtue like Charles Band, then I don’t know what this world is coming to. I suppose it's coming to be the kind of place where you can go out on a sidewalk and rent Full Moon’s newest feature, The Dead Want Women, exclusively from a movie vending machine with a rather color specific name. I’m still not completely sold on the concept of DVD vending, but striking an exclusive deal with a rental company like this is exactly the kind of forward thinking that has kept Charles Band making and producing movies for years. Are they all good? Rarely. For every Parasite Band has directed or Re-Animator he’s produced, there’s three Evil Bong films (seriously three?), a LeapinLeprechauns, and a Beach Babes 2: Cave Girl Island waiting to fill the void. What I had to know, on this week where we’ve all been watched over by the “super moon”, was if Full Moon had done something super or if this moon was waning.

In the late 20’s, just as talkies were making their entrance into the film world, silent movie star Rose Pettigrew (Jean Louise O’Sullivan) hosts a party in her home to celebrate the opening of her newest film. (Read “have a party” as “host a private pervy orgy in her basement dungeon”) When it turns out her movie is a box office bomb and the studio drops her contract, Rose goes on a killing spree murdering cowboy star Sonny Barnes (Eric Roberts), Tubby Fitzgerald (J. Scott), and Erik Burke (Robert Zahar) before committing suicide. Flash forward to modern times, and best friends and real estate partners Reese (Jessica Morris) and Dani (Ariana Madix) land the rights to sell the an unwanted Hollywood mansion. I bet you can guess which one. The girls spend the night there waiting on a prospective buyer, but they never show. What does show is Sonny, Tubby, Erik, and Rose who are back for a little decadent fun (read: sex) and murder (read: murder).

The Dead Want Women. Well, let me tell you something, the dead have plenty of competition. I know a ton of single guys who would like at least one as well. Personally, I already have one I like very much, and the dead will do well to keep their hands off her. The film starts off interestingly enough cutting snippets of classic silent horror movies such as The Cabinet of Dr, Calagari, The Man Who Laughs, and Nosferatu into the opening credits along with footage of Roscoe “Fatty” Arbuckle. Fatty was at one time the biggest box office draw in the nation, but he got caught up in a rape charge (which is still debated to this day), disgraced (despite the fact that he was found innocent), and blackballed from Hollywood. All of this got me in the mood for some old Hollywood, but then a Full Moon film continued to run instead. The first half hour is the set-up to the murder-suicide, and I enjoyed this part very much. Scott, Roberts, Zahar, and O’Sullivan ham it up, and it looks like they’re having quite a laugh filming. At least I hope they’re having a laugh, because if that was Eric Roberts' real technique for lovemaking, I bet the world is full of disappointed ex-lovers of Eric Roberts.

The problem comes in the The Dead Want Women's second half when the realtors are introduced. While both girls are rather nubile and fetching (especially Ariana Madrix… rawr), they are both spectacularly bad in comparison to the foursome in the film’s opening. Being dropped on those characters directly after the climax of the film’s first act was kind of a let down. I’m not exaggerating when I say I felt like the first half hour was five minutes and the next five minutes was a half hour. It got dreadfully painful until the ghost-zombie things of Hollywood past come back to liven things up. As to why and how they come back, or even what they might be or intend to do, even by the film’s end none of it is clear. They look like zombies, act like ghosts, and are ready to get real freaky. As far as I can tell, they came back to misogynisticly menace a couple of Re/Max agents and ghost-zombie rape them. Honestly, by the film’s end (at a spare 69 minutes), if it wasn’t for my absolute adoration of Eric Roberts in full ham mode and the strangely entertaining performance by J. Scott as Tubby Fitzgerald (the name a spoof of Fatty, the performance, pure Curly from The Three Stooges), I would have probably turned it off.

For some reason, despite the many Evil Bong movies he’s directed in the recent past, I really had high hopes for Charles Band’s The Dead Want Women. The title is so evocative of both early science fiction and horror, and the presence of Eric Roberts makes everything more tempting. However, I should learn that if it’s not Best of the Best I’d be better off leaving Julia’s older brother alone. The real problem with The Dead Want Women is that it feels like half an idea. Somehow it should have been fleshed out. Not only to provide a decent running time (How glad am I that I only spent a buck on this?), but to provide a satisfying conclusion. Or better yet, any kind of conclusion that doesn’t make me say aloud as the credits start to roll, “Was that it? Hmm. Well, then.” If my viewing experience ends with that kind of sentiment, it never leaves a good taste in my mouth. (Just ask High Tension if you don’t believe me.) Yet still, I have some kind of twisted faith in Charles Band. Sure, his films aren’t all that, but he’s still out there making them. There’s a hackneyed expression that says, “After the end of the world, the only things that will remain are cockroaches and Keith Richards.” I want to amend that to say at the end, “and Charles Band who will still be making movies, figuring a way to make a buck, and they will still not be all that good, and I mean seriously all he has to do is entertain post-apocalypse freaks that Lloyd Kaufman wouldn’t take in. How hard could it be?” If The Dead Want Women is any indication, the answer to that question is, “moderately”.

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