A prologue opens on a stormy night, on October 17th, 1925. A well-to-do man ascends the stairs of his mansion, his shaking hand clutching a candelabra as he calls out for his wife. Someone, or something, attacks him, ripping shreds from his skin as he screams into the night.
Fast-forward to October 17th 2013, which is where our main story plays out. Millionaire Mason (Ray Quiroga) has bought the mansion, which has over the years developed a notorious reputation among the locals. Stories of strange deaths, hauntings and spooky séances are rife.
Mason aims to change all that by hosting a lavish party there ... on the very night that a blood moon eclipse id due to occur. He's hired expert event organiser Samuel (Robert Picardo) and his hot chef wife Trixie (Lorraine Ziff) to make sure everything runs smoothly.
Come the evening time, the guests turn up as expected. Mason has invited the entire town, wanting to show off the wealth he's earned in the years he's been away. Everyone mingles, and it soon becomes apparent that many of the guests have their reasons for being there: Drake (Eddy Salazar), Tony (Sam Stone) and Mark (Patrick Koffel) want to get laid; Sarah (Tegan Webster), Olivia (Alexandra Cramer) and Samantha (Sarah Alami) want to look good and disprove that the place is haunted; Arthur (Tom Tangen) is the great nephew of the mansion's original owner, and is there to search for his great uncle's fabled missing will; Samuel's teenaged sons want to get pissed and embarrass their dad; handyman Gunner (Bradley Dodds) is there to show off his six-pack and flirt outrageously. As for butler Zacharia (Gary Busey), his role appears to be to creep people out at every opportunity.
Now, then ... Samantha also turns out to be a (very sexy) witch, whose real reason for coming to the mansion is to recite a spell in a bid to resurrect her dead boyfriend Frank. He's not impressed with her calling him back from the afterlife just to check if he bought a winning lottery ticket on the day he died. He disappears soon afterwards.
But, strange things start happening within minutes of this. Presumably because Samantha has opened a portal to the "other side"?
Tony, who it transpires also sings in a teeny pop band, thinks he sees his sibling in the party crowd while crooning. "I think I just saw my dead sister. That can't be a good sign ... can it?" he asks his gurning friends.
A group of revelling hot tub-goers fail to notice the clan of freaky werewolf midgets spying on them.
A partygoer and his mistress, both wishing to leave early, are trampled to death by ghostly CGI horses.
By this point we are 30 minutes into a 98-minute film! MANSION OF BLOOD is a riot. A hoot. An absolute fucking mess.
It looks like a HIGH SCHOOL MUSICAL film - it has that slick, warm TV-movie sheen to it, replete with a plethora of gorgeous young cast members (the three female leads are stunners) and cheesy MOR songs on the soundtrack.
Furthermore, the entire cast appear to have graduated from the theatre: facial expressions are exaggerated at every turn, and every line is enunciated perfectly. The whole thing is very tightly edited - a little too tightly at times, as some scenes begin or end very close to the wire - and, more than anything else, maintains a consistent aura of melodramatic camp.
What can I say? MANSION OF BLOOD is enormously entertaining, and yet it's pretty terrible in every regard. Its main problem is that it's so incredibly busy, and writer-director Mike Donahue has no idea how to pin everything together. We get a cavalcade of characters, a whole host of little situations created at the party during the film's first half (affairs, double-crosses etc), and - as events progress - murders galore as every horror trope in the book is pulled out of the bag. Zombies, vampires, killer dwarves ... MANSION OF BLOOD has them all, and more. And none of it makes sense, at all. Characters come and go without explanation; Busey (sacked from the shoot, apparently, but who's to say he didn't realise it was a shambles and deliberately sabotage his own position here?) gets about 10 minutes of unintentionally hilarious screen time; the finely chiselled young cast members make it all look even more MTV-esque than the polished visuals suggest.
Have I mentioned how camp it all is? I'm sure I have. But, at the same time, it makes you realise what a genius John Waters is. He could've made this bite. Instead, it laps half-heartedly sticks its tongue out. I can't deny it, I enjoyed this immensely. I know I should feel guilty for doing so, but fuck it.
MANSION OF BLOOD gets a very warm, colourful 16x9 presentation on MVD Visual's region-free DVD.
It looks great: very clean, vivid and sharp.
English 2.0 audio is generally very good too.
A static main menu page is pretty rudimentary, offering a stretched variant on the DVD's cheap cover artwork and the option to either watch the film or its trailer. There is no scene selection menu. Speaking of the trailer, it's the sole bonus feature on offer. It's 62 seconds long and, at the very least, affords us the opportunity to giggle at Busey a couple more times.
MANSION OF BLOOD is cheap, camp, polished in that faux TV-movie style, over-populated by vacuous characters, riddled with half-baked ideas, filled with continuity flaws and stunningly stupid at times.
I enjoyed it.
Review by Stuart Willis
|Released by MVD Visual|
|see main review|