Tuesday, January 1, 2008


It's not a good sign when you go into a movie cold and the first thought that pops in your head is, "Was this supposed to be a comedy?" That's precisely what happened to me with CORPSES, a 2004 shot-on-video travesty from director Rolfe Kanefsky that's a horror-comedy in theory only.

The allegedly hilarious shenanigans revolve around a curmudgeony old mortician (Robert Donovan, rocking a daring scrubs and leather jacket combo), who's developed a means to revive the dead by injecting them with a bright green fluid (hmm, I seem to recall that plot from somewhere, but what movie?). Exactly what he plans on doing with them isn't entirely clear, though it's got something to do with his harpy of an ex-wife leveling his funeral home to make way for a new shopping mall. Donovan's scheme is soon discovered by his young assistant Stephen Williams and his girlfriend Tiffany Shepis (here playing the kind of girl who's not only extremely cute, but also likes making out in coffins and thinks being around dead bodies is cool--yeah, keep dreamin', guys). Jeff Fahey also appears as the local Sheriff, who plays Shepis's father as well as being married to Donovan's ex.

Kanefsky does throw in a novel wrinkle in the zombie tale, namely that Donovan's serum only lasts temporarily, and must be continually injected to sustain his zombie army, but it's buried in a sea of lame humor, weak performances, and the production value of a cable access program circa 1991. (To be fair, Shepis stands out among the crowd, and not just because of her looks; she's a very capable actress who could do far better than the crapola horror flicks she tends to do. Fahey also does what he can with what he's given, though when he goes into full-on Terminator mode--quite literally--at the end it's just plain embarassing. I can easily see him flashing back to this movie on the set of PLANET TERROR and weeping with gratitude to his agent.)

Exactly what audience was this movie intended for? The level of humor might be of interest to undemanding third-graders, but the sprinkling of nudity and violence suggests a somewhat more mature viewership (the term mature being used rather loosely). Maybe in the glory days of USA's UP ALL NIGHT Rhonda Shear might've given this one a whirl, but I can't honestly fathom any circumstances in which this would be a viable programming choice.

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