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Tales From the Crypt Presents: Ritual
Reviewed by Todd Shearer, © 2006

Format: Movie
By:   Avi Nesher (writer-director)
Genre:   Horror
Released:   May 2006 (DVD release)
Review Date:   May 11, 2006
Audience Rating:   R
RevSF Rating:   6/10 (What Is This?)

"Hell-o, boils and ghouls, it's yer old friend the Crypt Keeper. Welcome to Jamaica, Mon!" exclaims a dreadlocked Crypt Keeper, followed by cackling and lots of jokes about mangoes and papayas and coconuts and any other semi-oblique reference you can think of for bikini-clad breasts. Aside from the obligatory Corpse-Cracking-Jokes opening and Tales from the Crypt twist tacked on the end, this remake of the old black and white I Walked with a Zombie, circa 1943, simply did not feel like Tales From the Crypt.

If you want a decent voodoo flick, this is worth the watch. If you want something in the vein of Bordello of Blood or Demon Knight, skip it. But, let me say this nice and loud so I don't wake up to find a something nasty and dead with nails driven through it in bed next to me: THIS MOVIE IS PRETTY GOOD! Loud enough? I really hope so.

I popped the movie in and yawned through the opening, but once that was over and done with, I quickly started to enjoy this movie.

Jennifer Grey plays a doctor who is stripped of her medical license and forced to get a job as a private doctor in Jamaica for a rich plantation owner. It was a plausible enough set-up. Her job is to care for the sick and dying brother of the man running the plantation. Her biggest problem is that the brother thinks he has been hexed and is being driven insane through voodoo. Not one to believe in voodoo and black magic, Jennifer Grey tries to find a cure for what is ailing her charge (and no, it is not her poom-poom. Watch the movie if you don't understand), with the help of Kristen Wilson, an admirable hottie to say the least. She, Jennifer Grey, spends most of the movie in a sweaty white t-shirt, and you can tell there must be a good stiff breeze blowing most of the time.

In the process of investigating her charge's illness, she of course irritates the wrong people and is soon suffering from voodoo visions of her own. The ending is no great surprise (or maybe it is, but I am not telling), but the fun is in getting to the end. Like most horror movies, the end is pretty much laid out before you, and it is simply a matter of how many people die and in how many gruesome and gore-splattered ways. Oh, and Jennifer Grey runs around in a sweaty white t-shirt, looking like she is smuggling pebbles.

Ritual serves up a good helping of visceral deaths, with blood by the gallons in at least one scene and just enough creepy scenes to keep a mildly superstitious person jumping with the heebie-jeebies.

Did I mention Jennifer Grey running around in a sweaty t-shirt?

It gets better.

To find out who is doing mean and nasty voodoo on her patient, Ms. Grey takes part in a voodoo ritual, consisting of dancing around and sweating (in a thin white cotton top and skirt) until she has a vision. I don't know about the ritual part of it, but the dancing and sweating in thin white cotton did wonders for the story-line . . . okay, maybe not.

Tim Curry makes an appearance as another discredited doctor, but like his role in this review, he is way under-used. This is the man a Tales From the Crypt viewer wants to see, but his part is at best a throw-away. He even ends up as a reasonably nice guy. Maybe he agreed to do the part for the sun and sand and Ms. Grey in all that sweaty cotton. I don't know. All I can say is I was disappointed by the distinct lack of evil grins, elite smugness or fishnet stockings. Sorry Tim, despite all the great work you've done, you'll always be Frank N. Furter to me.

Craig Sheffer, who looks to me like David Boreanaz with a bad haircut, did an admirable job in his role as the older brother. It was not a terribly taxing part, and he too probably took the job for the month in the sun he got while filming.

Kristen Wilson vamped it up well throughout this movie, and almost brought enough campiness to the part to bring the movie up to Tales From the Crypt level, but not quite.

In closing, if you are sixteen and looking for a modern horror flick, you will be a little bored. There is not quite enough blood, explosions or nudity to keep your attention away from the Internet. If you are a little older and remember Jennifer Grey before her nose-job, you might enjoy this movie a little more. It is definitely not going to keep anyone up all night, but it is better than the latest installment of Amazing-Big-Fear Survivor-Brother-Race, or whatever luke-warm piece of reality TV they're serving up on the networks.

Oh, and Jennifer Grey has kept a great set of buns, in or out of sweaty cotton.

Now I wish the neighbors would stop beating those drums! They're driving me nuts! I, uh, feel kinda, uh, funny all of a sudden. I feel, um, sort of sleepy . . . uh . . . .

Todd Shearer, resident pixel-pusher and occasional reviewer for RevSF, is currently on sabbatical in Jamaica. He obviously did not say he liked this movie quite loud enough.

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