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Rated PG-13
Copyright 1987 New World Pictures
Reviewed by Andrew Borntreger on 27 October 2007

The Characters:  

  • Jesse - Orphaned, lost one girlfriend when she moved, dumped by his latest girlfriend, fell out of a huge tree, and shot twice. This guy is having a rough life.
  • Charlie - Obnoxious character who hangs around with Jesse.
  • Gramps - Jesse's great great grandfather whose first name is also Jesse. He has the patience of Job. Passes away of a gunshot wound.
  • Kate & Jana - The ex-girlfriends of the two main characters. Kate's eyes are striking. Unfortunately, the same could be said of her hand and her foot.
  • Jake - Bill Maher! He was looking for a way to steal Kate away from Jesse. A sauced young lady, secret door, and capricious baby pterosaur provide him with the perfect setup.
  • Bill - John Ratzenberger! Coolest electrician ever.
  • Aztec Maiden - A virgin. (I think Jesse deserves one, don't you?)
  • Caveman - Large enough to give Jason Voorhees a run for his money, but not large enough to be much trouble for a dinosaur. Munched.
  • Aztecs - They wanted the skull so that they could sacrifice virgins to it. Possessing an object that requires you to sacrifice virgins seems like a bad idea. At least, that is my take. All of them are dispatched, some straight into a chasm.
  • Slim - Revenant who used to be Gramps' partner, until the darned old polecat tried to shoot Gramps. Blasted to pieces by Jesse and police officers.

Buy It!

The Plot: 

It is late at night when a car pulls up to the eccentric mansion that will become the focus of our movie. Jesse's mother and father carry him out to the vehicle and hand the infant off to the owners of the automobile. The relationship between the two couples is never explained, but it is obviously family or close friends. Little Jesse is dropped into the car, probably to roll around on the back seat as it navigates the dark California roads. In spite of his precarious existence as an infant in 1960, Jesse outlives his parents. Both are killed by a shadowy figure armed with a pistol and possessing supernatural powers.

Flash forward 25 years. The infant we saw moments before has grown into a man and he has come home to the old mansion. Dust and cobwebs aside, the interior decor of the place distresses Kate to no end. She is put off by the mixture of dark wood and Aztec stonework that gives the home a unique atmosphere. Cleaning the stone carvings as part of the weekly housework would be a serious endeavor since dusting them might require scaffolding and a leaf blower. Unusual decor sets the estate apart from other locations, so the odd choice of motif is something we need to accept. You cannot imagine them making a movie like this in a double wide trailer, can you?

Soon after moving in, Jesse and Kate are blessed with a visit by Charlie and his latest girlfriend, Jana. The new pair is a distraction, to understate the effect they have on things around them. They are the type of people who are always doing something loud, irresponsible, or potentially hazardous to other persons or property. Jesse suffers his "friend's" presence well. He retreats to the basement and spends hours sorting through stacks of old photographs and books.

Personally, I would have beat Charlie to death with an axe handle and then buried him in the weeds behind the house, but that is just me.

Among the dusty photographs is a picture of Jesse's great great grandfather, a rogue archaeologist, holding a crystal skull. It is different from the crystal skull that is on display in a museum. Obviously, Gramps' skull is a separate legendary artifact; one rumored to have magical powers. If the museum skull is an inert curio, what happened to the real one? Obvious answer: it was buried with Gramps. His grave is on the property, so both men grab shovels and get to work. An undead apparition rises out of the unearthed coffin, hideously grinning through a golden Aztec mask. The amateur grave robbers are about to become professional corpses when Jesse collects his wits enough to tell Gramps that they are related. With the old man out of the grave, their problem switches to one of sleeping arrangements and keeping him out of trouble (Charlie is no help, because he has the hilarious tendency to drive drunk).

Are you telling me that Gramps spent all those years in that box without so much as a pocket scrabble set? I am in awe of the man, because that sort of boredom would drive me screaming mad after the first year or two.

The skull, along with preserving his life far beyond its normal span, was supposed to rejuvenate Gramps. He is mortified that he looks his age. Since Gramps is one hundred and seventy, that means that most people might find his appearance frightening. Actually, I think that your average person on the street would run screaming away from the undead horror. That changes when Charlie "accidentally" throws a Halloween costume party. Now Gramps can get out and boogie without being noticed.

Parties have a tendency to go sour and this one is no exception. And, wouldn't you know it, the cause is an uninvited guest. A massive caveman pushes his way through the revelers and steals the skull after bashing Gramps aside. Turns out that possessing the magical artifact is risky business; the forces of evil are always trying to steal it. Without the magical skull to preserve his life, Gramps is a goner. Jesse and Charlie grab an Uzi from the latter's car and dive into a room upstairs that has become a primitive jungle. Their encounter with the caveman goes less than swimmingly, but an auspicious intervention by the Jurassic equivalent of a musk rat (they sure grew them big back then) saves the day. Then the skull is snatched by a pterosaur and dropped into the creature's nest. Jesse climbs up the tree and encounters a newly hatched pterosaur. That is not so bad, if you consider something with a foot of beak trying to nip you a minor inconvenience. Bad is when the adult pterosaur returns. Both men, the skull, - the baby pterosaur, and a dog caterpillar fall through the jungle floor and wind up in the basement.

While his friend is being attacked, Charlie waves the Uzi around. He was probably wishing for a shotgun, instead of a submachine gun. What do you use for pterosaurs anyway? 00 buckshot stuffed into a 40mm grenade shell?

The skull is in Gramps' hands for a very short period before Aztecs steal it again. To get it back, Jesse, Charlie, and an oddball electrician named Bill arm themselves with swords and go through a hole in the wall. Bill seems to know what he is doing, especially since he keeps a cutlass in his toolkit. However, the other two worry me with those swords. Take it as me insinuating that they did not appear to be very coordinated earlier. Individuals like this, who are clumsy, know that they are clumsy, but still insist on engaging in swordfights with Aztec warriors, are why I refuse to become an insurance salesman.

Watching bad movies has ruined a couple of professions for me. Take for instance Summer Camp Counselor. No way.

Having recovered the skull from the Aztecs (along with a virginal maiden - quite a nice souvenir there), the assembled group sits down to have dinner together. Slim emerges from the main course and shoots Gramps. Then, despite being the only one with a firearm, the undead antagonist takes the virgin hostage and makes a clean getaway with the skull. Charlie also gets himself captured, so it is up to Jesse to save the day.

At the end of the movie, did anyone else wonder if Charlie died of dysentery and the Aztec Maiden drowned while trying to cross a river?


Kevin from wtfFilm organized a roundtable. The theme is films that take place (at least partially) on Halloween. Click on the banner to see the supersoaker page.

The B-Movie Film Vault Ernest Scared Stupid
Cold Fusion Video Reviews Cemetery of Terror
Darksider's Realm Trick or Treat
Shadow's B-Movie Graveyard Night of the Demons (1958)
Side Order of Ninjas Night of the Demons 2
WTF Film City of the Living Dead House II: The Second Story

Things I Learned From This Movie: 

  • Under the right circumstances, an ironing board can cause a concussion.
  • California funeral services strictly follow Aztec customs.
  • Do not dig up your great great grandfather.
  • It helps to have a friend who keeps illegal firearms in his vehicle.
  • Dogs are descended from caterpillars.
  • Electricians are a secret society of time traveling adventurers, like the Illuminati.
  • Gunfighters always fall for the old "And the flowers are still standing!" tablecloth trick.

Stuff To Watch For: 

  • 11 mins - Painful singing and dancing scene alert.
  • 22 mins - Why, you do not look a day over one hundred and fifty...
  • 28 mins - Not much of a chance for reconciliation in that sort of situation.
  • 38 mins - Save your ammo; they all become extinct anyway.
  • 52 mins - "Yeah, well, get the hell out of my house!"
  • 54 mins - I think it wants you to chew up the steak for it, then spit the masticated meat into its upturned beak.
  • 74 mins - Be glad that Roy Rogers did not know voodoo. This could have been the result.
  • 81 mins - What you should have asked Gramps is this: "Are you really me? Is Charlie actually Slim?" Or do you look forward to shooting Charlie and leaving him in the desert?

 Audio clips in wav formatSOUNDSStarving actors speak out 

Green Music Note houseii1.wav Jesse: "Legend has it that there was a second skull that had untold powers that could unlock the mysteries of the universe and bring eternal life to those who possessed it. So, question is: if this is the legendary second skull, where is it?"
Green Music Note houseii2.wav Gramps: "Remember boys, this house is a temple, as fantastic as any pyramid or castle you'll ever see. It don't know time or space or any of that hogwash, but the forces of evil are always after this skull and you gotta help me to protect it. So don't let no one touch the danged thing. Ya hear?"
Green Music Note houseii3.wav Gramps: "I'm a hundred and seventy-year-old fart. A God damned zombie!"
Charlie: "Well, um, you look really good for a hundred and seventy-year-old zombie, Gramps. Really great..."
Green Music Note houseii4.wav Bill: "There it is. Looks like you got some kind of alternate universe in there or something."

 Click for a larger imageIMAGESScenes from the movie 


 Watch a sceneVIDEOMPEG video files 

Video Cliphouseii1.mpg - 4.0m
Jesse is fed up with hiding the truth from Kate and the others. He opens the closet to show them Gramps. Unfortunately, his inebriated ex-girlfriend is in there. Katie responds as expected, Jana slaps Charlie for good measure, and Jake continues to act like a pompous jerk. Best part about this is him opening the cabinet to show them the baby pterosaur, but everyone has already stormed out of the room.

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