Friday, May 23, 2008


VOODOO was one of several forgettable releases churned out by A-Pix Entertainment during the mid-'90s (though the company was responsible for bringing foreign oddities like BABY BLOOD and EVIL ED to these shores, as well as the underrated THE CRAFT steal LITTLE WITCHES), and it's pretty much what you'd expect from cookie-cutter, straight-to-tape horror. Produced in 1995 and directed by Rene Eram, it's a shallow and pedantic--sorry for the FAMILY GUY reference, I can't get that phrase out of my head when writing about this movie--exercise that follows the easiest, most predictable route from Point A to Point B.

Corey Feldman stars as a writer--not of anything specific, just, y'know, a writer, which is about as believable as Feldman playing an astronaut or neurosurgeon--who transfers to an unnamed college to be close to his girlfriend. (Why is beyond me, since she's a stuck-up bitch with whom he has zero chemistry.) Due to a housing shortage he ends up joining a fraternity for a place to crash, headed by a voodoo practitioner who just so happens to need one more body to sacrifice; the frat brothers--all seven of 'em--are also zombies, even though they still display their own will and personality (or would if the actors playing them were any good). Can Feldman keep from joining the living dead? And can he do it without Corey Haim's help?

VOODOO could've been a half-decent little flick if it'd given an honest effort. Feldman makes for a lousy lead, his apathetic performance so laid-back it borders on sleepwalking (actually, he's more zombie-like than anyone in the cast). Eram wrongheadedly starts off with a prologue showing the previous frat brother succumbing to the powers of a voodoo doll, thus destroying any chance of mystery and suspense--and with as slow a build-up as this movie has, waiting until roughly the mid-point to explore anything remotely supernatural, that's a big problem.

The only thing the script really provides--aside from a poorly-handled shotgun massacre in a voodoo-possessed rival frat, which even if it were better directed would still be uncomfortable viewing in the wake of events like the Virginia Tech shootings--is a great deal of homoerotic undertones, none of which feels intentional. Whereas a better film might explore the homosexual connotations of frat life in general, and in frat initiations in particular, VOODOO sticks to boring dream sequences about snakes and long, phallic tongues.

I really want to take the high road here and refrain from saying things like "VOODOO is doo-doo," or something equally juvenile, but I can't think of a more appropriate way to describe it. Go rent THE SERPENT AND THE RAINBOW or I WALKED WITH A ZOMBIE, you'll be much better off.

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