Travelling far, far away from a deluxe apartment on the west side away from Weezie, Sherman Hemsley plays one half of a duo of police officers sent to serve an eviction notice at a supposedly haunted house owned by a vampire. Do vampires live in haunted houses? I guess this one does. I got a fever and the only prescription is a better movie.
Directed by Alan Smithee (Lee Madden)
Starring Sherman Hemsley, Luis Avalos and Jennifer Rhodes
Not much trivia, however Ghost Fever was originally filmed in 1985 but wasn’t released until 1987 after extensive re-shooting and re-editing. This resulted in director Lee Madden demanding that his name be removed from the credits. It was replaced by the fictional “Alan Smithee”.
Hemsley and Avalos are a couple of policemen charged with serving and enforcing an eviction notice at an old mansion, supposedly haunted. A couple of ghosts who haunt the place try to run them out so that the house doesn’t get destroyed and they lose their home. Unfortunately, an evil force lives in the house as well and doesn’t take well to strangers in his home. I hope that sounds hilarious to you cause the filmmakers went out of their to make this as funny as possible.
Any movie directed by Alan Smithee is a red flag, right?
The film tries to come off like an 80’s take on Abbott and Costello with a horror twist like Young Frankenstein or even A&C Meet Frankenstein, but it’s without any of the humour or charm. Once the characters arrive at the mansion, it’s a ludicrous series of “hauntings” that no one in their right mind would take for more than five minutes, but we got a ninety-minute running time so these guys have to take a lot more punishment. Prat falls and physical humour can be funny if done by the right actors but the right actors aren’t here. The movie is filmed like a sitcom, which should play to Hemsley’s strengths, however physical comedy is not his forte. He just reacts to the terribly staged haunted rooms when he has to and moves onto the next room when the story requires it. Avalos plays the straight man, the Scully to Hemsley’s Mulder, if you will. He denies the hauntings even though they’re happening right in front of his face until he eventually relents because it’s too absurd not to.
Speaking of absurd, as the ghosts involved were originally from the deep south, that means we get to joke around about racism, something that Hemsley knows all about from being a cast member of “All in the Family.” These are weak attempts at humour in a movie filled to the brim with limp, unfunny jokes. There’s no bite behind the racial humour either, so it comes off even worse than if they did make me laugh. Hey, is there a black guy in the room? Let’s put some watermelon on the table. It’s like the writers weren’t even trying.
As expected, the effects are just as bad as the jokes. The lights go on and off, everything bolted to the walls move around, anything floating around has a terribly animated aura about them. A lot of standard TV tricks are used as well as can be expected but anything done beyond that looks bad due to the lack of budget, which I can’t believe they got in the first place. There’s really not much else to mention, it’s an embarrassing spectacle to watch.
The story has a decent premise which is flushed down the toilet within minutes and there’s no hope for recovery. Had the filmmakers decided to refocus more on making a serious film, I could see this maybe turning out to be a decent haunted house flick. Due to the comedic nature, we’re stuck watching a series of unfunny jokes and scenarios that make little sense with this style of movie. It just never worked. In fact, the movie inexplicably wraps up 20 minutes early so that our heroes can concentrate on a subplot introduced at the beginning about anyone being able to beat “Smokin” Joe Frazier in a boxing match to win a big prize. Avalos decides to fight and thanks to the good ghosts’ help, he wins! Then our heroes lose their jobs, decide their lives suck and wind up dying in a car accident but live happily ever after at the mansion with the other ghosts. How this all got greenlit I have no idea, but you can quickly see why this went direct-to-video. But it just doesn’t matter, theatrically or direct-to-video, this movie doesn’t cut it. It’s a failure in every respect.
Story – 1: The premise seems fine, just no effort was made to make anything in this film stand out.
Blood – 0: Ghosts don’t bleed.
Nudity – 0: They also have nothing to show off.
Overall – 1: I chuckled at a nut shot but the movie has no redeeming qualities whatsoever. There’s nothing funny about it and certainly nothing scary about it. It never should’ve existed. Often times I’ve heard that it takes talented people to make a bad movie but I’d hesitate to use the word “talent” anywhere in this review. It’s a jumbled mess from beginning to end and better left in obscurity where it belongs.
Categories: Worst of the Worst