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EVIL SPIRITS (director: Gary Graver; screenwriter: Mikel Angel; cinematographer: Gary Graver; editor: Terry Chiappe; music: Duane Sciaqua; cast: Karen Black (Ella Purdy), Arte Johnson (Lester Potts), Michael Berryman (Balzac), Martine Beswick (Vanya), Robert Quarry (Doctor), Anthony Eisley (Detective), Bert Remsen (John Wilson), Debra Lamb (Tina), Mikel Angel (Willie), Yvette Vickers (Neighbor),Virginia Mayo (Janet Wilson), Hoke Howell (Mailman); Runtime: 95; MPAA Rating: R; producer: Sidney Niekerk; Prism; 1990)
A real vomit.”

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

Gary Graver(“The Escort”/”Angel Eyes”/”The Roots of Evil”) weakly directs this sicko black comedy horror pic, a Psycho derivative. Too bad the best laughs are unintentional and the talented celebrity cast are trapped by having to act out Mikel Angel’s deranged screenplay with either a knife in the eye or with a straight-face.

Ella Purdy (Karen Black) is the nutty landlady of a California boarding house for welfare recipients. The landlady steals her tenants social security and welfare checks as the tenants start disappearing one at a time. They turn out to be the main ingredients in her meat loaf. When not robbing her tenants, Ella amuses herself conversing with the mummified corpse of her wheelchair-bound hubby. He tells his wife to keep killing for the checks.

The disparate tenants include themedium Vanya (Martine Beswick), a delusional drunk Willie (Mikel Angel, the screenwriter), a wannabe-writer named Balzac (Michael Berryman), a self-proclaimed society couple (Virginia Mayo, Bert Remsen) and Ella’s own non-verbal nude dancing daughter Tina (Debra Lamb). Arte Johnson is a government investigator, who checks out the boarding house to see what’s up with the missing tenants. The film is disposable like most pointless slasher films. But the plot is macabre and the characters eccentric. If you don’t expect anything above gross-out entertainment, this one is a real vomit.


Dennis Schwartz: “Ozus’ World Movie Reviews”