Ritual of Death
Dir. Fauzi Mansur (1990)
After seeing a presentation on ritualistic sacrifice, a group of thespians decide to put on a play about the topic, invoking an ancient curse.
CAUTION: THIS MOVIE'S SUBJECT & CONTENT IS EXTREMELY DISTURBING AND/OR BRUTAL. I HAVE CHOSEN NOT TO INCLUDE ANY PICTURES IN THIS REVIEW BECAUSE THEY MAY BE UPSETTING TO SOME READERS. MAY CONTAIN SPOILERS.
This film was made in 197… oh, excuse me, 1990. Wait, really? Wow. The only way you can tell this movie wasn’t made during the Free Love Era is because everybody looks like they just walked off the set of Beverly Hills, 90210, because the production quality is just oh, so bad.
After taking in a presentation on human sacrifice, a man finds himself being confronted by a strange man with a weird, hairy book that appears to make the flesh from his arms melt off. He hallucinates that there is a human sacrifice happening in the room he’s in, then snaps out of it when his play director buddy rouses him. They’ve been trying to come up with an idea for a new play, and wouldn’t you know it, human sacrifice works perfectly! At this point, if you’ve been paying extremely close attention to my review and the hints I’ve dropped, you know that human sacrifice will come into play at some point in the film’s future. It's easy to see that it was inspired by Blood Feast, but unfortunately it isn't even as well-made as that earlier genre staple.
Of course, by performing the ritual on stage, the group raises an ancient cult leader. It also leads to a bunch of murders, for seemingly no reason. The movie makes almost no sense, there's little to no explanation offered, and it all starts to feel like a 90's TV movie with a little bit more murder. This isn’t all that surprising for a bad movie, but it’s not so much convoluted as it is random and pointless.
The sound quality is absolutely awful. All of the actors’ lines have an echo quality, as does the music, giving the movie a “workplace instructional video” feel. It’s one where you will occasionally have to pause and rewind if you care about the actual dialogue, because you often just won’t be able to tell what they’re saying. Not that it really matters anyway, unfortunately, because there’s nothing noteworthy being said.
All the negativity aside, there actually were some legitimate effects in this film. The director, who is mostly known for pornographic movies, does a pretty good job with a lot of the visual and special effects. Some of it’s cheesy and not great, but some of it’s legit. There are several face-peeling scenes that look, while not necessarily real, at least on par with some of the better films that have used the same shots. It’s not enough to save the film, but with a generally bad movie you don’t expect to see anything good from it, so this was a nice bright spot in an otherwise worthless movie.
And it was worthless. The acting is just terrible, and the writing itself is actually let down a little by some awful performances by pretty much anyone involved. This is indicative of the rest of the film, where any talent that is present is overshadowed by everything that just doesn’t work. You know how sometimes you can watch a movie with a talented actor’s earlier work, and he far overshadows everything else? Like, in retrospect, you can look back and see that that one particular person has some talent, but literally no one else in the movie does? It’s like that, if the “good” actor is not really all that good either. It’s just generally a very stupid movie.
There is a scene that had a lot of potential: the resurrected cult leader kills two of his victims with a giant fan blade. He runs over the first, squeezing his innards out onto the ground. The second, who comes across the scene, is chopped up with the fan blade. It’s not particular well done, nor is it anywhere near as violent and gory as it should’ve been, but it was something, at least. And that’s really the story of this movie. It’s not as good as it should’ve/could’ve been, but it’s not all bad.
There’s at least some talent behind the camera, with absolutely none in front of it. But hey, directors make bad movies sometimes. Unfortunately this feels like the lone bright spot in a generally untalented career. And to call this film a bright spot is actually kinda sad.
Who this movie is for: Low-budget film fans, People studying how not to act, The director's friends and family
Bottom line: This film makes almost no sense and yet somehow has a few bright spots. It's not the acting or the script though, that's for damn sure. The director looks competent and very well may luck his way into a better film in the future. Again... this isn't it. I can't in good conscience recommend this movie to anyone that I like, and since you're reading my website, I like you.