HK and Cult Film News's Fan Box

Monday, May 26, 2014

GHOST OF GOODNIGHT LANE -- DVD review by porfle

These days, when you see that a movie has Billy Zane in it, you never know if he's going to actually apply himself or just wander through it until somebody hands him a check.  Maybe it says something for his latest flick, the Dallas-based spookfest GHOST OF GOODNIGHT LANE (2014), that he seems to muster up what comes as close to a performance as you're likely to see from him in something not on the same sea level as, say, TITANIC.

Here, Billy not only displays his best deadpan sense of humor but even wears funny hats as Alan, the crotchety head honcho of a no-budget production facility that churns out crappy movies.  Next to the larger building which houses his soundstage, there's a little old house which is used for editing and other post-production work.  A little old house that's--as Alan and his crew will discover--is haunted.

No time is lost setting things up.  Familiar actor Richard Tyson, who played the bully in THREE O'CLOCK HIGH and also shows up in such films as BLACK HAWK DOWN and BLACK WATERS OF ECHO POND, is the first to die when he's left alone in the house one night to finish editing a sequence and runs afoul of what appears to be a freaky-looking young female ghost who seems very agitated and very angry.  I watched this part right before going to bed, and yes, it did give me the creeps.

After the messy business of  his demise is dealt with (the police rule it an accident) Alan and the rest apply themselves to finishing their latest piece of crap as ominous storm clouds gather around the studio.  We meet his makeup girl Dani (the eternally cute Lacey Chabert), music and sound guy Amin (Lynn Andrews III), fill-in editor/janitor/Dani's boyfriend Ben (Matt Dallas, BEAUTY & THE BRIEFCASE), and the resident needs-a-shower loser Johnny (Adam Whittington), who runs the camera while lusting after actresses such as the plastic-enhanced blonde bimbo Laurel (Christine Bently Quinn).

Creepy-quirky little ghostly pranks occur all morning as you-know-who displays her mischievous side,  while Alan tries to shrug it all off in order to keep everyone from running out on him.  This is made more difficult when Thelma (Allyn Carrell), a weird old lady who claims to have once lived in the little house, suddenly shows up and reveals the whole story of who the ghost is, why she's there, and what she plans to do.  And it ain't pretty.

The movie continues in this vein until finally genre superstar Danielle Harris (HALLOWEEN series, CYRUS, BLACK WATERS OF ECHO POND, CHROMESKULL: LAID TO REST 2, THE VICTIM) as Chloe shows up with fellow thespians Micah (the also-cute Brina Palencia) and musclebound himbo Nico (the not-so-cute John Franklin) to get the ball rolling on what turns out to be the funniest part of the film, the big funky dance scene.  We get to see Alan the director at work here as he urges his performers to be ever more sexy and then foists product placement items upon them in the form of Uzis and "Muscle Milk" health drinks.  ("Muscle Milk" is actually mentioned in the closing credits, making it a genuine product placement item.)

With all this out of the way,  it's finally time for GHOST OF GOODNIGHT LANE to stop farting around and start bringing on the scary, which it does in a big way when the ectoplasm finally hits the fan around the midway point.  Despite all the tongue-in-cheek humor (which continues to amuse even after things get really serious) the story takes a deadly turn involving some pretty effective scares along with wince-inducing violence (one actress is confronted by the decaying, gibbering ghost and is made to slice herself to ribbons with pieces of a broken mirror) and just-plain "WTF?" moments such as one character suddenly flying around the room in fast motion and banging into walls until he's finally sucked through a trapdoor in the floor. 

Director and co-writer Alin Bijan (BELLS OF INNOCENCE) fills the movie with so many shocks both big and small that some of them can't help but score while others fall flat.  (In addition to which, this gang of idiots seems to specialize in sneaking up on each other and going "Boo!")  The ghost, whom we'll come to know as "Carly" (Sophia Arias), is a direct descendant of the stringy-haired young dead girls dressed in rags from such films as THE RING who appear several yards away at first and then instantly jut into screaming close-up, while moving around in jittery, jerkily-edited fast-motion.  One such instance caught on camera made me laugh out loud when budget-conscious Alan remarks, "Was that CGI?  I did NOT approve that."

Before it's all over, we get more cringeworthy instances of self-mutilation (one involving a spinning fan blade), some strange supernatural anomalies, spooky bedroom and bathroom-type scenes with dolls and mirrors, a possession-enhanced catfight (Lacey Chabert punching out Danielle Harris goes on my mental keeper reel), and a bad-CGI-slathered finale.

The DVD from Inception Media Group is in 16x9 widescreen with 5.1 surround sound with English subtitles and closed-captions.  A trailer is the sole extra. (Don't miss the final scene which appears after the end credits have already started rolling.)

At least we get a different set of stereotypes here besides the usual jocks, nerds, and camp counsellors (although there's no shortage of bimbos and horndogs), and the whole thing just kind of ambles along in an agreeable way until some quite watchable mayhem perks up the second half.  And with Billy Zane seemingly enjoying his time spent filming GHOST OF GOODNIGHT LANE, we get to see him actually invest part of his talent into his performance while remaining his casual, Zane-y self.

Buy it at


No comments: