STUDIO: Dimension
MSRP: $29.99
RUNNING TIME: 106 Minutes

The Pitch

“This string of ‘Tales from the Crypt Presents’ films are going great! We’ll just keep pumping these out as fast as horror fans can pay to watch them. What’s that you say? The box office returns are in? No one saw Bordello of Blood? How is this possible? Who could resist the combination of Dennis Miller and hooker vampires? It has Phil Fondacaro in it for God’s sake! The original Peter Dinklage!

What? We have a third Tales from the Crypt movie already done? Oh crap. Oh crap. Ok. Don’t panic. They didn’t make you head of Universal for nothing. We’ll bury this movie. We’ll strip the Tales from the Crypt banner from its name. Obviously Bordello failed because of the Tales from the Crypt name, not because it was complete crap. We’ll ship it overseas and sell the domestic rights to someone really stupid who loves to ruin franchises. Dimension! Then they’ll sit on it for a decade before finally releasing it, leaving us in the clear. We’ll come out smelling like roses.

Glad that’s out of the way. Let’s put this horrible ordeal behind us and concentrate on making quality films again. Stephen has been talking about this great idea for a project called Van Helsing…”

The Humans

Craig “The Chin” Sheffer, Jennifer “The Nose” Grey and Tim “Congo” Curry.

The deadly consequences of microwaving your Pop-Tart for more than three seconds.

The Nutshell

Welcome to the Jamaica. Sit back, take a dip in the ocean and smoke some ganja. We want you to feel totally comfortable here and enjoy your stay. Please pay no attention to the mindless voodoo zombies who stalk the jungles at night, brutally murdering tourists. They’re really quite harmless.

Dr. Alice Dodgson takes a job in Jamaica to treat a very curious patient, Wesley Claybourne. He believes that he is under a voodoo curse and is being turned into a zombie at night. Alice’s years as a loose cannon doctor who tries to save patients at any cost has not prepared her for this. Wesley’s brother is the one paying for the treatment and seems desperate to see his brother get better. Not as desperate as he seems to sell all of their property on the island though. Gee golly, that seems kind of suspicious.

Alice’s years of medical training also haven’t prepared her for voodoo visions, people exploding, people melting and cgi spiders. Will Alice hold fast to cliche doctor tradition and insist on finding a rational explanation for everything? Will Tim Curry play the same smarmy character he’s played for twenty years? Will Craig Sheffer brood all over the place? Will the Crypt Keeper make cringe inducing puns? All these questions and more will be answered in Ritual!

"Sorry Old Witch, I’ve got me a new Crypt Keeper coochie these days."

The Lowdown

Ritual is a moderately entertaining but predictable film. The filmmakers learned their lessons from Bordello of Blood and toned town the wackiness about a hundred notches. The film feels more like an extension of the show than the previous two films which is be both a good and a bad thing.

For example, Ritual is clever and interesting, but it also has a twist that can be figured out easily. That’s not a big problem for a single episode of a show but it hurts a 100 minute movie. The film trudges along for another forty minutes after the twist becomes apparent. A last minute switcheroo surprise does little to reassure you that you haven’t been wasting the past forty minutes of your life.

The plot of the film is rather grounded and doesn’t have much to offer once the twist is revealed. There’s no real zombie action or gore sequences to keep your attention. The film gives away its best special effect sequence in the first ten minutes of the movie and everything after that feels pedestrian in comparison. The entire affair feels like a Tales from the Crypt episode script stretched to feature length and filmed with the same budget.

Wisely realizing that Ritual was the apex of filmmaking and that they could never top it, RKO Pictures left the business after its completion.

The Package

The artwork is about as uninspired as it comes. The design consists of floating torsos of the film’s stars and a voodoo doll at the bottom. The designer’s bachelor’s degree in graphic design gave him the knowledge necessary to give the entire cover a red tint. If only he had stayed and gotten his master’s he might have been able to apply some even more exciting filters. The covers for Demon Knight and Bordello of Blood grabbed your attention but this one just fades into the background.

Dimension wisely embraces the Tales from the Crypt connection on the art by placing the Crypt Keeper on the corner. This keeps the art from blending into all the other generic horror fare. If not for the Crypt Keeper on the cover, people might end up renting Ragdoll instead. The artwork also features a couple of quotes from Creature Corner in praise of the film.

6.0 out of 10