I recently received an email requesting that I review the hilariously bad 1987 horror film The Newlydeads. As it happens I reviewed that flick in 2010, so here it is again. As a reminder to new readers if you want an immediate bad movie fix on a particular film you can check my Bad Movie page to see if I’ve reviewed it already. Here is the link: http://glitternight.com/bad-movies/
THE NEWLYDEADS (1987) – Category: A neglected bad movie classic that deserves a Plan 9-sized cult following This film is about an undead transvestite slasher called Jackie who preys on the couples at a honeymoon hotel. Hey, if the Sleepaway Camp horror films can have the post-op tranny Angela as their slasher why can’t this film have a PRE-op tranny as its slasher?
Our story begins in 1972 when we see Jackie, in full drag, checking into a hotel run by a horny sleazeball named Lloyd. The sleazeball escorts Jackie to her/his room where he attempts to get intimate. After realizing he’s as good as participating in a cover of the song Lola the sleazeball stabs Jackie to death with a corkscrew and dumps the body in the nearby lake.
Jump ahead to 1987, where Lloyd is still running the hotel, now as a plush resort for honeymooning couples. Lloyd is getting married to a young woman named Linda in an outdoor ceremony at the resort. Lloyd’s impending nuptials have prompted Jackie to come back from the Great Beyond because she wants Lloyd as her/his own eternal mate. Why, I don’t know, since at best they were headed for a quickie and at worst he’s a homicidal homophobe. Jackie crashes the outdoor ceremony in her current condition: as a grotesquely decaying corpse in a wedding gown. She/he is still wearing the long blonde wig she/he wore the night they were killed but why Jackie is clad in a wedding gown I don’t know, other than the fact that our movie is titled The Newlydeads.
As a demonstration of how little thought the filmmakers put into this thing it took me less than 10 seconds pondering that to come up with a solution that would enhance the story and provide a plausible reason for Jackie’s desire to have Lloyd to her/himself for all eternity. In the 1972 opening, you could have presented Lloyd and Jackie as a newlywed couple honeymooning at the hotel Lloyd owns for economic reasons. Expository dialogue could make it clear that they are an old-fashioned couple who have not had premarital sex, and when Lloyd discovered that Jackie was really a man it would have been a more plausible motive for his homicidal rage. This scenario would also have put Jackie in a wedding gown when murdered and would explain her repeated comments throughout the rest of the film that she wants Lloyd all to her/himself. It would also explain her murderous resentment of the couples at the honeymoon hotel since she spends most of the movie knocking them off in various bloody ways.
Anyway, the chaos caused by Jackie crashing Lloyd’s wedding also causes a car accident involving a psychic woman and her grouchy, skeptical husband. The married couple decide to spend the night at the Honeymoon Lodge, which makes no sense since Lloyd spends a lot of time in the flick telling people over the phone that the place is booked solid. Our psychic gets a vision that her and her husband’s home is being burglarized and tells him to call the cops while she takes a walk to clear her head.
Meanwhile, Jackie, who is part zombie and part ghost in the movie, kills a nerdy guy and his hot new bride overnight. The psychic woman, Kris, gets a vibe about what is going on and leads Lloyd to the corpses. Lloyd wants to call the police but Kris, in the first of many examples of incomprehensible behavior on her part dissuades him from this, saying that by the time the police arrive the killer could have struck again. You can’t count how many ways that thinking is flawed. Even dumber is the fact that she cooperates in Lloyd’s callous plan to just dump the bodies of the dead honeymooners in the lake. (Don’t they think there will ever be a police investigation when these people just disappear?)
Next Jackie engineers the death of Lloyd’s new bride Linda and again Kris helps him to hide the body and even helps Lloyd drive Jackie away when she again comes to claim him for her own. Why? Kris’ psychic abilities have told her by this point that Lloyd killed Jackie, causing all this mayhem. Kris’ non-stop efforts to protect Lloyd make even less sense than Jackie’s desire to spend eternity with the hate-filled sleazeball who killed her.
Kris’ husband catches her and Lloyd disposing of Linda’s corpse and runs off to phone the police. Jackie doesn’t want cops on the scene so she kills him to prevent this. By the way, all of this is taking place in the daytime since our filmmakers apparently didn’t have the proper equipment to film at night. More signs of genius from our auteurs, isn’t it? “Hmmmm, we don’t have proper film, cameras or lighting to do night shooting. Let’s make a horror film!”
At any rate, a few more honeymooners and hotel staff members get killed and two cops who shouldn’t even be there get killed. The reason they shouldn’t be there illustrates another monumental lapse on the part of the producers of this mess. The cops indicate they are there because they were called about a murder by the psychic’s husband, but if you’ll recall Jackie killed him before he could make that phone call. The call he DID make to the police came earlier in the film and was about his wife’s visions of their home being burglarized, not a murder. The cops say they agreed to come because the psychic Kris once helped them solve a missing persons case. (I didn’t realize you have to have done the cops a favor before they would obligingly show up to investigate a murder or a burglary)
Our story comes to a close with Kris sacrificing herself to save the repulsive Lloyd and eliminate Jackie once and for all. Again, WHY!? Lloyd is a murderer and a sleazeball. They could have at least had Kris say she was destroying Jackie as revenge for her husband’s murder (if you ignore the fact that her husband was always yelling at her and telling her she was a phony psychic) So let’s see, here; Jackie – dead, our heroic psychic – dead, two cops – dead, innocent honeymooners and hotel staff members- dead. Lloyd – alive, lame comic relief drunk minister - alive, even lamer comic relief hard-of-hearing elderly couple on a second honeymoon - alive.
Also alive are a British rock star and his girlfriend, whom he proposed to at one point in the film. That’s right, he took his girlfriend to a honeymoon resort to pop the qustion and even though her boyfriend took her to a place called The Honeymoon Lodge the woman is completely surprised when he gets down on one knee.
And finally, still alive somewhere in the world is a child of Jackie’s. We glean this because of a photo Kris and Lloyd discover when looking through Jackie’s 15 year old suitcase for personal effects to cast a spell with. Yes, Lloyd dumped Jackie’s body years ago but inexplicably held onto the suitcase she had with her the night he killed her. I guess the filmmakers were trying to set up a sequel in which Jackie’s now-grown child could be the slasher in Newlydeads 2: Wed By Dawn (sorry) but even that was muffed, since the reference to the child is so fleeting that what few audience members were still left in the theater probably missed it.
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