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Case Number 14505: Small Claims Court

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The Legend Of Bloody Mary

Lionsgate // 2008 // 93 Minutes // Rated R
Reviewed by Appellate Judge Tom Becker (Retired) // September 12th, 2008

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All Rise...

Appellate Judge Tom Becker likes his legends with a dash of horseradish and a fresh celery stalk.

The Charge

"I believe in Mary Worth."

The Case

You can also believe in Brenda Starr, Mutt and Jeff, Maggie and Jiggs, and Blondie, it's still not going to make this inept, no-budget faux horror movie any more palatable.

Ryan (Paul Preiss) is plagued by nightmares. It seems that in 2001, his teenage sister and some of her friends were playing that spooky game, "Bloody Mary." This action-packed party favorite consists of writing your friends' names on a mirror and chanting something like, "I believe in Mary Worth" 500 times or until everyone passes out from boredom. While chanting, a demon is supposed to pop out of the mirror to smite you and your buds, making the difficulty level a few steps up from "pass the orange" but not as physically and mentally degrading as karaoke.

The demon is actually the vengeful spirit (is there any other kind?) of a woman who, according to this telling, got knocked up by a randy reverend back in colonial times and was executed for sluttism. The method? Stand her in front of a mirror and carve her face off. Who knew the Puritans had such a flair for the dramatic?

Anywho, Ryan's sister and her pals vanished, and a couple of other teens ended up in mental institutions muttering, "Mary did it," or something like that. Now, it's seven years later and Ryan is still having nightmares. His girlfriend contacts the only person in whom Ryan might confide—a professor/priest/archeologist/friend, Father O'Neal (Robert J. Locke), who is heading a project to dig up the remains…of a Colonial American Puritan colony! It really is a small world after all.

As represented by The Legend of Bloody Mary, it's also a pretty tedious world. There's a lot more talk than action here. At Mary Worth's 17th century trial, Puritans spend a lot of time shaking their fists and accusing her of carrying Satan's baby. After endless Olde Englishe speechifying, they cut her up, and then even later, there's a pointless slaughter scene.

In the 2001 segments, we get teenage girls endlessly planning the Bloody Mary game and see a couple of them get their comeuppance through a few seconds of badly rendered digital effects.

Then there are present-day scenes of the priest/etc. setting up the inevitable good versus evil duel while trying to juggle the archeological dig with his amateur sleuthing about what really happened to Ryan's sister, all the while engaging in portentous and nonsensical exchanges underscored with annoying and obvious music cues:

Ryan: What if I don't believe in the devil?
(Creepy music rises)
Priest: The devil still believes in you!
(Crescendo)

Locke plays the priest sort of like Jackie Mason imitating Shecky Greene imitating Richard Burton in Exorcist II: The Heretic. His wacky performance is actually a nice counterbalance to Preiss' somnambulistic turn as the allegedly aggrieved Ryan.

The 93-minute movie is padded with needless subplots and tired, extraneous music montages, though they somehow missed a good bet and didn't use the "Bloody Mary" song from South Pacific—now, ain't that too damn bad!

Director John Stecenko tries to add a bit of visual flair by having the scenes from the different time periods all look different, with various cameras and formats used. This would be more effective if what was happening in these scenes was more interesting. Evidently, Stecenko feels a lot of affection for the Bloody Mary story; he previously directed another film about this legend with some of the same actors that he used here.

Presentation-wise, we get a good video transfer and so-so audio, with some scenes just not mixed as well as others, so that the music sometimes overtakes the dialogue. For a little known indie horror, we get extras a-plenty, including an awfully serious commentary with Stecenko and Editor Ricky Hayner; a featurette with some people talking about how they'd played the Bloody Mary game at sleepovers; a few brief and pointless featurettes about the costumes (jeans!), production designs (rooms!), and f/x (blue screen!); and an alternate opening and closing with commentary by Stecenko and Hayner. Here, the sound mixing is truly terrible, with audio from the film often drowning out the commentary.

The Legend of Bloody Mary is guilty of being a bloody bore. The accused are sentenced to stand in front of a mirror chanting, "I believe in Ed Wood," until they learn that bad movies can be entertaining, too.

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Scales of Justice

Judgment: 45

Perp Profile

Studio: Lionsgate
Video Formats:
• 1.78:1 Anamorphic
Audio Formats:
• Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (English)
Subtitles:
• English
• Spanish
Running Time: 93 Minutes
Release Year: 2008
MPAA Rating: Rated R
Genres:
• Bad
• Horror
• Independent

Distinguishing Marks

• Commentary
• Testimonials
• Alternate Opening with Commentary
• Alternate Ending with Commentary
• Production Design with Commentary
• Wardrobe with Commentary
• Visual Effects with Commentary
• Trailer

Accomplices

• IMDb
• Official Site








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