The reason I have been absent from the 'Bid for a while now is because I have been on quite a movie-watching binge. I've seen some good ones (Return of the Family Man) and one really bad one (Blood Lake), but I also saw one that is really hard to clasfy, and I knew I had to review it immediately. Before, I thought Blood Diner was the weirdest movie I had ever seen, but now...well, I won't go any further. You're just going to have to find out for yourself, as we take an exploration into the perplexing and downright mind-deteriorating filmgoing experience that is...
Skullduggery 1983 Review
Okay, let me see if I can gather my thoughts and spit out a plot recap: So the movie opens in fourteenth-century England with an evil sorcerer confronting a king, who made a deal with him to have power in return for his soul. The king has backed out on the deal, so the sorcerer makes him choose two apples, one of which is poisoned. He makes an ill choice and dies, while the sorcerer curses his wife's unborn child and all his descendants to serve Satan. We then skip ahead to the then present day America in a town called Trottelville. We are then introduced to Adam (Thom Haverstock), a young man who enjoys playing a Dungeons & Dragons type game with his girlfriend, Barbara (Wendy Crewson). Well, as you can probably guess, Adam is the descendant of the king in the beginning, and his demonic powers begin to kick in. He starts going on a killing spree, patterning his killings after the events in the D&D game. Will Adam break free of the curse, or is he doomed to continue the cycle he was cursed with?
Skullduggery, Skullduggery, Skullduggery...where do I even begin with this movie? Before I move onto the strangeness of it all, I might as well start with the bacs. The acting is alright, with some bad line delivery by Haverstock and an actually good performance by Crewson (there's a reason she's the only one in the cast to go on to some sort of fame). The score is actually really good, and sets the perfect tone for it throughout the film. It's like a 1300's-type flute soundtrack throughout, with the exception of an extremely out of place disco theme during the opening credits, as well as an upbeat concert band-type piece during the end credits. But in between both credit sequences, yeah, it was really good. The bac premise was interesting enough to lure me into a viewing, and they could have actually done something really, really cool with it! I'm a big fan of these "life imitating art" horror movies like A Cat in the Brain and the upcoming The Raven, so who knows what this could have been?
But instead, we got this. Okay, the big difference between this and something like Blood Diner is that, no matter how ridiculous it was, Blood Diner had a coherent story that you could actually follow and understand, no matter how preposterous it got. With Skullduggery, it's all over the place! Plot twists are thrown in that make so little sense, you feel compelled to rewind the tape so you can re-watch it and gain a better understanding for what might have posbly occurred, but you don't want to because then you'll have to relive the previous ninety-five minutes of your life all over again! I won't go into detail about them, seeing as there's one very unnecessary and very confung plot twist that's thrown in that the film could have done without (it involves a man named Dr. Evel; no joke!). If it had just played it mply and tried to be your standard slasher, it would have been a much better film. Instead, I think it's trying to be like an art house movie and failing in the most miserable way imaginable. But then again, it would have lost a majority of its entertainment value.
Now let's get on to the absurd amount of WTF moments contained in its hour-and-a-half running time. First of all, there's the Punch & Judy doll that, I guess, is supposed to be this demonic figure that these devil-worshipers, well, worship. For those who don't know what Punch & Judy is, it's a British (I think) puppet show thing which bacally features a guy named Mr. Punch going around beating people over the head with a wooden board. In the beginning (in the year 1382, I think), the two devil worshipers are shown worshiping this painting of Mr. Punch, and a Mr. Punch doll repeatedly shows up during the movie and is apparently the thing that triggers Adam's psychotic behavior. Then there's one scene where a woman is running away from the killer, and instead of getting help from a pasng car on the busy highway she is running next to, she runs into the abandoned graveyard and starts banging on the window of a church, and she sees a Liberace in a ruby-sequined jacket playing a grand piano that sounds like a church organ, who smiles at her and doesn't help her.
Then there's a man wearing a jacket with a tic-tac-toe board painted on the back who walks in and out of scenes for no reason, and he isn't even a named character in the movie! There's also the parts where the film cuts to a shadowy figure is assembling a large jigsaw puzzle that really has nothing to do with the rest of the movie (much like 25% of this movie!). And let's not forget the multiple oddities going down at the costume store Adam works for! First, an eighty-year old woman gets dressed like a ballerina (which is a ght I shouldn't have ever seen in all my years of living), and then an overweight couple rent bunny outfits (yet another horrendous ght). And perhaps the weirdest of all is the multiple costumes Adam dons over the course of the movie. During the movie, he dons a piccolo outfit, a doctor's outfit, a knight outfit, and, strangest of all, a full-on Easter Bunny outfit! All for no reason! My personal favorite oddity Skullduggery has to offer is the doctor who apparently has sex with the nurses in the hospital whilst wearing a gorilla costume and smoking a cigar! What the hell???
All in all, I like Skullduggery. Yes, it's one of the absolute worst movies I've seen in a long time, but it has a kind of bad movie charm to it that I really got into. The film does drag in certain places, and there's an extended sequence at a party (hosted by Dr. Evel) that doesn't make any sense and is rather tedious, but other than that, I found it to be quite a fun time in a really, really, really bad way. In fact, it ends so abruptly and starts playing the most bizarre choice of muc, which caused me just t there, my eyes transfixed on the credits, my mouth agape, and my entire body in complete shock. It took me a while to rearrange by scrambled brains in order to fully form an opinion on the movie. I mean, what was Ota Richter thinking when he wrote and directed this? There is no excuse. There is a DVD listed on Amazon for this movie, but it's really a bootleg, so I would recommend just buying the VHS. It's cheaper, and more authentic. I would love to get an official release, though, with director's commentary just so we can finally figure out what was going through Richter's mind during the making of this!
The Verdict: Mind-numbingly horrendous with most of it not being relevant to the actual movie, Skullduggery still provides a lot of entertainment (and much confuon) whenever it's on screen.
Score: 6/10. Worth a rental or a very cheap purchase.
Just listen to this funkiness:
Don't trust my judgment? Here's four other opinions:
The Spoony Experiment