Directed By: Bert L. Dragin
Starring: Tom Bresnahan, Jill Whitlow, Jonathan Chapin
Tag line: "The stage is set for ghostly bloodshed"
Trivia: Tom Bresnahan did almost all of his own stunts
Twice Dead is a haunted house movie with an unmistakable 80's flavor, and as someone who grew up during that decade, I have to admit I had a great time watching it.
The Cates family: father Harry (Sam Melville), mother Sylvia (Brooke Bundy) and teenage kids, Scott (Tom Bresnahan) and Robin (Jill Whitlow), have just inherited a mansion from their uncle's estate, and are on their way to California to claim it. Over the past few years, the Cates family has fallen on hard times, and are hopeful that a fresh start will be just what they need to get back on the right track. Unfortunately, the 'mansion' they inherited is in a state of decay, and serves as a hangout for a local gang of street thugs. As if that's not bad enough, it seems the old place is also haunted by the spirit of it's original owner, a 1930's stage actor named Tyler Walker (Jonathan Chapin). But what initially looks like a curse turns out to be a blessing when the street gang returns, and must deal with the wrath of Tyler's ghost, who has assumed the role of protector for the newest residences of his once-great estate.
The street gang that torments the Cates kids could have been lifted from any number of 80's teen films. Led by a guy known only as “Stony” (Shawn Player), the gang comes complete with leather jackets, big hair, and a bad-ass attitude that never wavers. When the Cates family first pulls up to the mansion, they're greeted by the gang, who are lounging around outside. Harry orders them to leave, but they refuse to go, and only disperse once the police come rolling up. Even then, you know they'll be back. At first, the Cates kids hold their own against the thugs, with Scott using some of Tyler Walker's old theatrical equipment to put a pretty good scare into them. Of course, they don't stay scared long, leading to a showdown between the gang and Tyler's spirit. This brings about another staple of 80's horror, bloody gore, and results in a number of creative kills (my favorite being the electrocution/sex scene).
Twice Dead is an 80's film right down to its casting (Todd Bridges, who rose to fame as the older brother in Diff'rent Strokes, has s small but memorable role as a friend of the Cates kids). If you're a child of the “Me” decade, then Twice Dead is a film you won't want to miss.