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OBSCURA MACABRO -- "Playroom" (1990)

Starring Christopher McDonald, Vincent Schiavelli

"Where terror is child's play." -- Welcome back, bidites, to "Obscura Macabro", the weird and wacky world of forgotten and overlooked horror gems. For our second installment, we'll be taking a look back at the 1990 film "Playroom", also known as "Schizo". (A quick bit of trivia about this picture: the story was written by none other than actor Jackie Earle Haley, who would go on to play Freddy Krueger in the 2010 remake of A Nightmare on Elm Street).Released by Republic Pictures during the glory days of VHS, I found this one to be fun, unique, and intriguing. Christopher McDonald plays Chris, an archeologist with a dark past. His entire family was slaughtered while on a dig in a Yugoslavian castle, leaving him and his father's asstant as the only survivors. Now, years later, Chris wishes to return to the castle and complete his late father's work. The castle belonged to a wicked child prince named Ilok, who worshipped a Slavic demon and enjoyed torturing his subjects. Chris gathers up a small team, and together they head to Eastern Europe. The group is a mish-mash of characters: an alchoholic photographer, Chris' publisher girlfriend, a bitchy New Age diva who complains throughout the movie, and says things like "Is he going to pound all day? I'm trying to meditate!"As the dig progresses, Chris becomes more and more unstable and volatile, and begins seeing his "imaginary friend" whom he used to play with in the castle as a child. You can probably guess the identity of the spectre. A wall is breached, and Prince Ilok's "Playroom" is uncovered. Chris, now beyond help, begins offing his friends in various gruesome ways. Little does he know that Roman Hart (Vincent Schiavelli), his father's former asstant, is headed to the castle. Institutionalized after being charged with the murder of Chris' family, he plans on putting a stop to Ilok's evil once and for all.The wicked prince finally shows up, a tall mummy of a fellow. If his sword doesn't get you, his corny oneliners will. Some of the attempted humor falls kind of flat (for example, the boy prince pauses in his pursuit of Chris' girlfriend to pick a big, juicy booger from his withered nose), but this is a B movie, folks! Roman shows up to save the day, and, well, you get the gist of it.It's all very wacky, and actually manages to be kind of creepy at times. The acting is pretty good for a B movie, and the sets and atmosphere are great. As for Prince Ilok, some might scoff at what is obviously a large puppet, but I thought it added to the movie's bizarre feeling. Bottom line, this is a great late night movie, and is worth checking out.

Overall Rating: 4.5 out of 5

ChazMan Tuesday 3/06/2012 at 09:27 PM | 91155