You could do a LOT worse when casting your horror movie than parking Corbin Bernsen and Judd Hirsch as village elders caught up in battle between good and “the spiral stone” evil.
And let’s not forget the Once and Future “Tank Girl,” Lori Petty.
“She’s looked better.”
“That’s not all on me,” screenwriter Eric Wolf says, in a line he gave Eric Wolf/actor. “She let herself go.”
“A Deadly Legend” is a laugh-out-loud Z-movie about haunted land being profaned by developers somewhere in the Northeast, and not in Florida, where such cursed happenings are common.
And Wolf, a bit-player (“Shopper #2 in “Daddy’s Home 2”) turned producer and screenwriter, is a big reason why. As madman Mike, the backhoe/bulldozer operator hired to clear a “mound” in a controversial redevelopment on the outskirts of Small Town, Adirondacks, he’s got the eye-bugging drollery thing down pat.
I mean, I laugh when Judd Hirsch, as the town character, an antiques dealer who interrupts a planning board meeting with “You will unearth what had been dead for CENTURIES,” goes all Old Testament.
Corbin Bernsen, playing a local seller of crystals and knockoffs of Gandalf’s wizard’s staff, goes off on “HALF off” sales to anybody gullible enough to drop by.
And Petty? She’s doing the same antic “Tank Girl” shtick she did back in the last millennium, flailing her arms around, improvising nonsense, looking 25 years older.
“All it takes to make me HAPPY” she bellows at beau Mike (Wolf) on the backhoe, “is beer.” And no, she’s not find of the low-cal kind.
But Wolf goes OFF, and is a hoot to watch as a guy who turns possessed, digging up and bleeding on “the stones,” which open “the gate,” and for which he should feel honored and thus work off-the-clock.
The film’s a daffy, no-budget riff on the “ancient spirits disturbed” and “every fifty year curse” thing. Digging up an Indian mound awakens Luci, the ghoul (Tatiana Szpur), who caused a wreck that killed the developer’s (Kristen Anne Ferraro) husband, years before.
Now, Developer Joan is making a mess out of the place where “the stones” preside, a “gate” where “the chain witch” rules — once the chain has chosen Eva (Jean Tree) for her bitchin’ bikini bod out on Lake Ancient Curse.
This is the sort of bad horror that is best experienced with a crowd of fellow aficionados, maybe over the favorite beverage of Wicked Wanda (Petty). Maybe social distance with a few friends?
There’s a single effect, a pale blue light taking over the eyes.
The scenario is filled with laughs intentional and unintentional laughs. Joan and her daughter — Andee Buchari — need to have the “it gets better” talk with her fey son (John Pope). I mean, he’s willing to take on “the chain witch,” even if he’s about as butch as Billy Eichner.
The director has given herself the moniker “Pamela Moriarty.” But as my mother noted as the credits rolled, maybe the nom de réalisatrice (director) suggests sinister skills not yet acquired.
“This must have been her first go at it.”
MPAA Rating: unrated, bloody violence
Cast: Kristen Anne Ferraro, Eric Wolf, Dwayne A. Thomas, Jean Tree, Corbin Bernson, Judd Hirsch and Lori Petty.
Credits: Directed by Pamela Moriarty, script by Eric Wolf, and no, I don’t believe those are their real names either. A Gravitas Ventures release.
Running time: 1:36