I don’t know why I listen to my brain so much. It’s often wrong and it hasn’t exactly proven itself an ally in the past. If I could fire my brain I would because it’s shady and pretends to know stuff it doesn’t. Or maybe it’s just confused? Here is an example of my brain feeding me false information that I was eventually able to disprove thanks to one second of research. Once upon a time I bought a DVD of THE EVIL (1978) because THE EVIL is my friend. It was a double-feature type affair that also sported TWICE DEAD (1988). But my brain told me I didn’t care about that one because I saw it before and found it unlikable. In fact, it brought back sorry memories of a creepy summer indoors breathing stale air and watching pale movies during the day and not knowing anything or anyone.
Then the other day I was fondling my THE EVIL DVD like a miser and I happened to read the back of the case because sometimes I accidentally read things when I’m bored. Hey, what now? I had never seen this TWICE DEAD before! What was I thinking of? It wasn’t easy but I was able to track down the title I had confused it with. REST IN PIECES (1987)! Why did my brain think these two were the same movie when they are not? It’s the guy on the cover art! In both cases he’s all dead-looking and smashing out of something. It was REST IN PIECES that gave me a bumper vibe strong enough to last decades. Oh sorry, poor innocent TWICE DEAD, my goof. Oh, hooray, I thought, now I have a new eighties horror flick to watch! It’s like finding a 20-dollar bill in an old coat!
Fast forward and I really liked TWICE DEAD. It’s a totally different thing than that other movie (REST IN PIECES) that I wanted to forget about (and now secretly want to see again in order to torture myself). TWICE is about a nice, down on their luck family who inherits a haunted house but can’t worry too much about their ghost because a laughable band of punk rockers want the house too and are the more pressing issue. This is kind of like HOUSE (1986) smashed up with THE NEW KIDS (1985) but it’s also like KILLER PARTY (1986) because it cannot decide what kind of movie it wants to be and yet is somehow entertaining anyway. The implausibility factor is excessively high, so much so that I’m grateful that I didn’t see this movie at a younger age when I might have cared. Lately I believe reality has already ruined reality and it shouldn’t be allowed to ruin movies too.
What helps make TWICE DEAD’s unfocused storytelling so forgivable is its fetching cast. NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET 3’s BROOKE “Andale!” BUNDY is ma, THE ROOKIES’ SAM MELVILLE is dad and the brother and sister are portrayed by THE BRAIN’s amiable TOM BRESNAHAN and NIGHT OF THE CREEPS’ adorable JILL WHITLOW. Never underestimate the power of the WHITLOW. Her charming presence makes me even more confused about this film’s relatively low profile. I’m going to blame that cover art again. No matter how fancy and 3-D you make the smashing glass, a goofy guy with a moustache jumping out of a mirror is never going to sell a film. Why not exploit the awesomely cheesed-out punker thugs instead or the ominous mansion? Ah, don’t listen to me. What does my brain know?
TWICE DEAD was written and directed by BERT L. DRAGIN who pulled the same duties for the also slippery to categorize SUMMER CAMP NIGHTMARE (1987). I remember being disappointed by that one because it wasn’t the clear-cut horror flick its box art suggested. Maybe I’ll give it another chance now that I’m less likely to mind the blurring of the line. However, if the cast isn’t as likable as the one in TWICE, it could be a bumpy bus ride. Anyway, this DVD of mine with THE EVIL and TWICE DEAD double feature on it? I now like it twice as much as I did before. I wonder what other falsely accused ‘80s flicks are hiding in my shelves.
NOTE: I’m even going to forgive TWICE DEAD its deplorable cat murder which is not an easy thing for me to do…