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Cthulhu Mansion (1990)
Black Magic Mansion
La Mansión de los Cthulhu

Nomination Year: 1997
SYNOPSIS:  Despite the quality of the final product, the film really does have a surprisingly complex (and almost clever) plot. Years ago, a successful stage magician ran across a book of Real Magic (marked by the upside-down pentagram and goat's head). When he tried using it, he accidentally immolated his beautiful wife and assistant.

In the present, he's still a good stage magician, except now he uses his daughter as his assistant. The amusement park that they work for is the site of a drug deal gone sour, which results in a murder. The murderer's girlfriend's kid brother fails to hotwire a car, and gets shot by a security guard, forcing the murderer and his accomplices to kidnap/carjack the magician, his daughter, and his assistant. The young hoodlums force the magician (et al.) to drive them to his home, a large mansion outside of town whose wrought-iron gates sport the word "Cthulhu" (hence the title). Before long, the wounded kid gets possessed, people start to make out, and people start to die pointlessly. In an attempt at cinematic quality, each person the house kills has his/her death foreshadowed (ooh, technique!) using an antique film camera showing old magic routines.

Eventually, the only people left alive are the magician, his daughter, and the possessed kid. When the magician's daughter gets possessed, there's a climactic battle in which the magician drives the demon (Cthulhu?) out of the kid's body and into his own, with the judicious application of a cross. The kid (miraculously cured of both demonic possession and gunshot wound) and the magician's daughter (also freed of demonic possession) both flee. As the mansion sinks into the earth, the wrought-iron gates close behind the fleeing kids, and the wrought-iron words "Cthulhu" spectacularly burst into flames. Yick.

If you're following Melanie Shatner's career, this film came after Syngenor but before Subspecies II.

Oblivious

Midnight Snack
It's late at night, but Candy is hungry. She goes into the kitchen (alone) to fix some food. She searches through the food, and grabs a jar of something. She closes the refrigerator, and opens the jar, inside of which is a pile of writhing maggots. She frowns and puts the lid back on. Suddenly, there's a strange noise. She screams, half-jumps, and then realizes it's only the cat. She chastises the cat ("You just scared the shit outta me"). Meanwhile, the refrigerator (well within her peripheral vision) slowly opens and big rubber hands reach for her. As she turns back, the hands grab the door and close it with a soft noise, which she somehow doesn't notice. Without warning, bread starts to spray, 52-pickup-style, off the counter. The fridge door opens and the hands grab Candy. As she is pulled inside by the big, goofy, rubber hands, she turns despairingly toward the cat, which watches her dispassionately and takes a little nap after the fridge has "eaten some Candy."

"Alas, Poor Yorick"

An E-Ticket Ride
A drug deal is going down on an amusement park ride amid banshees, vampires, and spectres of death. After some abysmal dialogue ("This shit's worth ten grand -- where you gonna get money like that?"), the young punk stabs the drug pusher ("From Switchblade Bank, asshole!"), then pushes him out of the cart and onto the tracks, where he is electrocuted by the third rail.

Worst Acting

Stale Candy
Kaethe Cherney plays Candy, and does so poorly. There are two clips that make this evident. In the first clip, she out-Bad-acts William Shatner's daughter Melanie. Melanie whines about how long it's taking her boyfriend Hawk to complete a drug deal in the carnival funhouse, and Kathy strikes back with the bon mot "maybe he's laying one of the vampires." She then blows up like a pufferfish when Melanie's character takes offense. The second clip shows Candy trying to dramatically act, explaining how her father locked her in a closet once. It doesn't build any great sympathy, although her little shriek at the end of the speech (when the lights go out) is amusing.

Actors/Directors of Note
Actor Claim to Fame
Frank Finlay nominated for a Best Supporting Actor for his work in 1965's Othello 
Marcia Layton  
Melanie Shatner Daughter of William "James T. Kirk" Shatner himself 
Kaethe Cherney  
Director Claim to Fame
Juan Piquer Simón Spanish director of B-Movies and commercials 

Kevin Hogan

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