The Screaming Dead (2003)
By: Devon B. on February 2, 2006  |  Comments  |  Bookmark and Share
ei Independent Cinema (USA). All Regions, NTSC. 4:3. English DD 2.0. 88 minutes
The Movie
Director:Brett Piper
Starring: Misty Mundae, Rachael Robbins, Rob Monkiewicz
Screenplay: Brett Piper
Country: USA
The Screaming Dead is a new(er) film by Brett Piper, and was evidently the straight horror debut of B-Queen Misty Mundane…er…Misty Mundae. I must admit, I'm not a fan of Ms Mundae. First, she has the stupidest name ever. Second, she made a name for herself by starring in lesbian soft-core spoofs, which all look terrible from the previews. Third, she played the lead in Seduction Cinema's Tomb Raider knock off, Misty Mundae: Mummy Raider. Why the hell would they cast such a flat-chested actress in that role? Okay, it might be dumb to call a movie Misty Mundae: Mummy Raider, and then not have Misty Mundae in the main part, but I think they could've tried for someone a little closer to the Lara Croft image. Not that I have anything against Mundae for staying natural, but this just seems downright disrespectful to all the 13 year old perverts that want a chance to wack off to a non-pixel Lara-like character for a change. Fourth, while trying to do the back patting bullshit that is movie promotion, the best compliment Piper comes up with is that Mundae can take simple stage direction. Okay, but aside from Mundae, how is the film?

The Screaming Dead is the story of a sleazy photographer who arranges a shoot in an old house. The photographer gets stuck with a representative of the estate, who is like a slightly more intelligent version of Joey from Friends, overseeing the proceedings. Pseudo-Joey spends all his spare time trying to crack on to the photographer's secretary, but manages to find time to tell everyone the legend of the house's original owner and his penchant for torture. The newly hired models for the shoot are put into solitary confinement, and a badly rendered, eyeless ghost pops in on one of them. A bunch of other weirdish things start happening, but only an imbecile won't be able to tell what's going on.

The production values leave a lot to be desired. The secretary for the supposedly massively successful photographer doesn't even have a proper desk, and the meagre gore and other FX are unimpressive. Granted, there is a very funny CG head 'splode, but the rest of the CG is just annoyingly bad. You know the movie's cheap when the major gore effect consists of merely squirting an actress with blood. I guess the idea was she was getting nasty gashes from an invisible, ethereal being, but it just looks like what it is, her being squirted with red liquid. The ghost is like a cheap cross between Grandpa from The Texas Chain Saw Massacre and the zombie-esque guy from Devil Story (AKA Once Upon a Time…The Devil), and he doesn't even really appear until the end.

The ghost also doesn't scream at all, so the title is hugely inaccurate. The movie could've been called Unoriginal Ghost Story #29. Actually, that title implies a spirit of some kind being prominent. I guess the movie should've been called Sleazy Photographer on a Power Trip, because that's what it's about. The photographer just orders the women around, plays voyeur, and butts head with Pseudo-Joey.

Some of the thespians struggle with Piper's dialog, which is too bad because bits of it are pretty amusing. There's nothing to rival the porn debate from They Bite, which was recycled, Ron Jeremy and all, for Trey Parker's Orgazmo, but Piper has written a few good lines here. The acting skills on display in Sleazy Photographer on a Power Trip vary greatly from person to person, but no one rises above mediocre.

The film is too slow. Perhaps the requisite lesbian scene, which I think Piper at least tried to send up a bit, padded things out too much. Whatever the reason, over halfway in there's only been one crappy CG ghost and he's only on screen for like five seconds. American Pie references and plot holes aside, the movie is still a loser because it breaks rule number one of a horror/nudie flick, with the most attractive girl remaining clad throughout. Include an awful wrap up, and you've got one to avoid.
Sleazy Photographer on a Power Trip is presented at 1.33:1. The movie is shot on video, and while not up there in appearance with 28 Days Later, the image quality is not distracting like a lot of SOV's. Obviously, there's still video grain, some slight video ghosting, and the occasional scratch, but the film looks surprisingly good.
The audio track is two channel stereo. The sound levels can fluctuate, and the overall volume is a little quiet. The sound distorts on louder moments, and the sound FX can overpower the dialog. It's flawed, but a passable mix for a low budget film.
Extra Features
The DVD comes with the trailer, and trailers for four other Shock-O-Rama films, including Piper's other recent effort Bite Me! There's also an offer for Alternative Cinema Magazine, web links, a 90 second fluff piece about the film's world premiere, a photo gallery, another fluff piece about a seemingly additional world premiere at Fangoria's Weekend of Horrors, a terribly written booklet that touts the SOV factor as a positive, and a few featurettes.

One featurette is a 15 minute piece on the location, an abandoned asylum. The segment features interviews with the cast, crew, and a former inmate. One member of the crew, also a former employee at the asylum, seriously violates confidentiality laws, but whatever. Compared to a similar feature on the Session 9 DVD, this section comes off as second rate. Another featurette is a seven minute making of, which manages to show Sleazy Photographer on a Power Trip's end despite the short run time. In this one, Piper says the film is his most serious work, which I think might be the problem with it overall. The remaining featurette is actually quite funny. Entitled Misty Mundae: Skin to Scream, this segment tries valiantly to promote Mundae as someone with 'star quality' and who personifies the 'girl next door.' The way she talks, she's only like the girl next door if you live next to an idiot. But, it is funny seeing her geeky fans, and hearing that being carried by Blockbuster is some kind of statement of superiority. I would have thought that prudish Blockbuster stocking your softcore porno meant it was too light, but, okay. Without this featurette, I would never have known that not only is there a subgenre called 'erotica and sexy movie spoof,' but Mundae is the leading figure therein!

My DVD also came with a postage paid (within the US) postcard, but that's not listed on the cover as an extra, so it may not be in all the DVDs.

There is an Easter egg on the Special Offers/Fandom Stuff menu. It is called the Fandom Stuff menu if you want to get to it from the special features, but the Special Offers menu once you're there. Anyway, press left to highlight the woman's eyes to see a brief clip of Mundae's birthday celebration after (one of) the world premiere(s). On my player, the eyes lit up whenever the menu was accessed, so it's not a particularly hidden egg.
The Verdict
Sleazy Photographer on a Power Trip was a real let down. I expected much more from Piper, but this is only slightly better than a Fred Olen Ray movie. I guess if you're a fan of Mundae you might want to a) get this disc then b) get your head checked, but otherwise, this one hasn't got a lot to recommend it on. But then, perhaps I'm not the best to judge the scream queens. I didn't even understand the need for a Linnea Quigley workout video.
Movie Score
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