Jason Lively, Tim McDaniel, Jill Whitlow, Chuck Mitchell, Paul Gleason, Leonard Lansink, Ian McNaughton, Toby Kaye, Ian MacNaughton, Julian Curry, Cynthia Frost, Andreas Kovac-Zemen, Larry Pennell, Ernie Lively Update Cast
Director: Roland Emmerich
Writer: Oliver Eberle, Roland Emmerich, Thomas Kubisch
Producers: Ute Emmerich, Dean Heyde, Uli Möller
Set in Hollywood, California, two young ultra-cheap independent film-makers (their art reflects life, including driving a Hearse, replete with coffin in back), are trying to make ends meet and pay the bills, yet it doesn't seem to be happening for them, especially when Warren (played by Jason Lively - 'Rusty' from National Lampoon's European Vacation) keeps messing up Fred's (Tim McDaniel) scene shooting for their movies by trying to french kiss for real (not act) their leading-lady actresses, who in turn end up quiting the production of their films. This, of course, has a detrimental effect on their life and is highlighted due to the astounding amount of bills they receive in their mail box.
That is until Warren checks through the mail and discovers an invitation to a reading of his late Grandfather's will. In turn, Warren discovers he's the sole heir to his rich Grandfather's estate. Things could be looking up for the guys...
Instead of his perceived inheritance, Warren receives a pawn ticket - which he has to pay $20 for the privilige of collecting! Upon collection however, he receives a brown suitcase containing a rusty clock and a bunch of old photographs, including one of his Grandfather along with his Butler.
That evening, once the guys go to sleep, the old clock (which they have placed on a shelf at this point) comes to life at midnight and lets out some ghostly mist to give Fred a lifelike dream of Warren's Grandfather, only for Fred to wake up and be greeted by the ghost of Louis the Butler! (who, I might add is very prim and proper and also is not credited for the voice - anyone know who performs his voice?)
Apparently, the reason for the ghostly wakings of Louis is because of movie studio executive Stan Gordon (played by none other than Paul Gleason - yes, Principal Richard Vernon in "The Breakfast Club"!) who has a house on his studio's property, of which belonged to Warren's grandfather (more details on this plot device are revealed half way into the film, and I won't reveal here).
Fred's dream gives him an idea for his next movie however - a movie based on the dream he had about Warren's grandfather. This sets him about creating a model of the white house in his dream, as well as the writing of the script, casting - bringing in an attractive young brunette (Jill Whitlow) - and the creation of an animatronic 'Muppet' lifelike doll of Louis! This however brings about the spirit of Louis, who this time possesses the animatronic doll to give himself a body to use.
What ensues from this point on encapsulates hidden treasure (the Grandfather's fortune) and the chase for both Warren, Fred and Louis to go against the evil studio executive who also wants the treasure and at the same time blow up the house as a special effect for a big budget movie he is making.
From what I gather, this movie was fairly slated upon release, and even today garners many bad reviews, thus in turn has given director Roland Emmerich (of Independance Day and Stargate fame) a black mark on his directing CV (for those who have heard and seen the film).
But, no matter how many bad reviews this has got in the past, it's one of those films that, looking back at it now, has a certain charm. Sure, it doesn't have the best acting in the world (with the exception of Paul Gleason who always puts in a great performance as the bad guy role), or any ground-breaking special effects.
You can even tell the film itself rivals the character's vision of a shoe-string budget. Yet the thing is, I love this film. It's a film I saw as a kid at the cinema, and has been one that's been extemely difficult to find in the video stores and also to buy over time, making it even more of a "must have" for film collectors in that sense.
Having said that, the animatronics on the Louis puppet is good for that era decent lip syncing, although the voice of Louis is unfortunately uncredited (even on IMDB).
All-in-all, it's not the best film ever (and in my opinion, not the worst either), but it has that charm, that spirit, that imagination that captivates you when you're a child and lingers in your mind forever.
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