Sunday, February 14, 2010

Love Slaves of the She Mummy: A review

{Previously, We brought Plan9Crunch readers the story of the micro-budget feature, Love Slaves of the She Mummy. It's a fascinating two-part tale of creating a film for about $6,000, told by the director, Sherman Hirsh, screenwriter of "Surgikill" and "Lords of Magick." I've watched Love Slaves of the She Mummy three times in the past couple of weeks, as well as an extras disc (a new DVD version has just been completed) and I offer these observations as well as a review of sorts.}

Sherman Hirsh's "Love Slaves of the She Mummy" is both a spoof and an homage. Vampira, Shock Theater, Ghoulardi, Elvira, and many, many more "TV morticians" graced TV screens in cities and took turns hosting horror films that had long used up their week-to-a-year stints on the big screens. Love Slaves involves "Morbid Mort's Midnight Mausoleum Matinee," a fictional show on a fictional UHF TV station that is one step above public access. "Mort (played by improv comic Mitchell Gordon) and his gang of freaks host the latest public domain classic, the spoof"Love Slaves of the She Mummy," which has the feel of a film made for $750 and change. It's all directed skillfully by Hirsh, who captures the feel of a low-rent horror film hosting show based on his own recollections of Cleveland's Ernie Anderson, who played Ghoulardi.

As mentioned, technically the film is well made. Hirsh deliberately creates a shoddy look and sound quality to "Love Slaves" and it almost seems like a real movie, with worn print discolored from too many bookings and lack of care, sliced and diced to fit the time frame and ego of a low-rent TV horror host. The "plot" of Love Slaves" is deliciously simple: The brother of a city employee is found insane, mumbling about a mummy that enslaves. Our hero and a typecast lady cop (who fades in and out of the film) investigate the insane man's claims and the mummy.

Appropriately, the majority of the 85-minute movie is devoted to "Morbid Mort's show." That's really what Love Slaves is, a salute to all the horror host shows that have flickered on our TV screens. Gordon, who resembles Jared Hess' Napolean Dynamite, so long as you imagine him as having gone insane from living in Idaho too long, has a lot of manic energy. He deserves credit for keeping the entertainment value of the faux show pretty consistent. His co-hosts, a ghoul, a ghoul with a prominent tongue, and two cute ghoulettes, are capable but definitely background material. This is Gordon's show. His energy determines whether it succeeds.

And most of the skits work. I particularly like a public service announcement for interns at the fictional station that includes convicts as a 'no-no,' and a "Poetry Pit" reading of the cast that is hysterical, if a bit too long. Also very funny is an "interview" with the "executive producer" of Love Slaves. It's great farce, with Gordon's Mort caustically dealing with the producer's bull*&^% about what a huge success the film is.

Hirsh freely inserts "in-the-know homages to the genre, such as a "trailer" for Love Slaves that warns potential viewers of suffering long-term damage if they see the film. That was a tactic used by many independent film producers, including AIP for The Screaming Skull" and Harry Novak for his "Living Dead" trilogy, which was in itself three European horror retreads from the 1960s. I also particularly like a short scene where, after a commercial break, just prior to the film resuming, we see that we are watching "the American version." And there is a fun scene where Mort and the gang, perusing a Psychotronic Video magazine, miss the end of a commercial break.

But if Love Slaves was all spoof, it wouldn't be a feature length film. Unlike cheapie film spoofs in such films as "Amazon Women of the Moon," most viewers, if they tuned in to "Love Slaves" in mid scene, wouldn't know it was a spoof for a while. "Love Slaves" is just "bad" enough, with the wooden acting and dime store sets and FX, to be believable.

And that brings us to a certain irony about Morbid Mort's Midnight Mausoleum Matinee: It remembers a genre that -- quality wise -- has disappeared. Morbid Mort's "show" is actually better than the horror host crap shows we have today: There are still several going strong. If you have the Retro Television Network or MyTV Network, or access to public access in some areas of the country, you can watch Offbeat Cinema, Cinema Insomnia, Wolfman Mac's Chiller Drive In, Midnight Monster Hop ... but the truth is, these shows are bad ... in the bad sense. Most are public access shows picked up by bottom feeders such as RTN to fill space between Wilfred Brimley diabetic supply ads and ads for those unfortunates swamped with credit card debt.

In fact, I'm not sure that less discriminating viewers of "Love Slaves" -- who miss the obviously spoofed newscast that precedes "Morbid Mort" and "Love Slaves" -- would even realize, at least for a while (there is an ad for a pro-suicide hotline that only an idiot would assume is real) that they are watching a spoof. This may doom long-term success for the film. It's better than what it spoofs today, and its real affection for Ghoulardi and other long-gone horror hosts are likely unknown to most viewers today.

I would like to see "Love Slaves" picked up and ran on a TV station some day. It would be a hoot to contrast the fake TV ads created by Hirsh's vivid imagination with the low-rent real ones that would be on the station that aired "Love Slaves!"

Notes: The two-disc DVD of the 85-minute version includes an extras disc with rehearsals, Gordon's audition, outtakes, deleted scenes and production stills. This post's reviewed extended version is not on the market yet. The original, longer (95 minute) version of "Love Slaves" is available for purchase on the Internet at Other stars of Love Slaves include Gregg Stickeler, Pauline Lang, Briony James and Daria I. Dunall.

-- Doug Gibson

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Six thousand bucks? Hell, try making a feature for a couple hundred, THEN you're micro-budget!