Death on Demand (2007)

Death on Demand (click for larger image)Reviewed by Syxx

Starring Krista Grotte, Jerry Broome, Josh Folan and Elisabeth Jamison

Directed by Adam Matalon

The trailer for Death On Demand promised a lot: gore, gore, gore, tits and more gore all brought to the viewer in the form of a reality television program. The idea of a group of dumb college kids getting attacked by a ghost during a pay-per-view haunted house event sounds like a good plan. It couldn’t do any worse than Halloween: Resurrection, or could it?

It all started with mountain climber Sean McIntyre. During a expedition Sean went a little bit off the deep end and killed a person or two whom he thought were Yetis(!). It is a common mistake that can happen to any of us when let in the wilderness, away from the World of Warcraft. Some people just aren’t made for prolonged exposure to creature-comfortlessness. Even with this new drop in sanity Sean survives to be rescued and returned home just in time to have Thanksgiving dinner with his wife, daughters and mother.

That’s the end of the film.

Oh shit, sorry! He just smashed his wife’s head into the dinner table, cut off his mother’s head and mangled his frightened children. Maybe his Warcraft account got suspended? Either way, he is unable to cope with his new mental state and takes his own life by stringing himself up with a noose. It would be another twenty years before this house of death would see visitors again.

Welcome to the present day! The McIntyre house has stood vacant for all this time decaying and boarded up, but not for long. Young business man Richard Sachs is taking the public’s obsession with reality TV and putting it to good use: making money. His plan is to rig up the McIntyre residence with several cameras and props in an effort to launch a new pay-per-view event where three couples will compete to win a ton of cash. Good plan, too bad not everything is going to go according to plan.

Death on Demand (click for larger image)After quite a bit of talking the contestants finally arrive at the house and the game begins. The couples must spend the entire night in the house if they are to win the money. The contest starts with using a witch-board to summon the spirit of Sean McIntyre. This little bit of corny fluff actually works as Sean appears and starts hunting down the intruders one by one. Can he be stopped?

Good idea, good gore, terrible pacing. The opening scene involving Sean killing his family is great over the top fun, but the audience then has to wait another 40-50 minutes before things get rolling again. During the down time we are treated to some of the most boring, annoying and stupid college kids to ever grace a DVD disc. The contestants take the form of two football jocks, their girlfriends (one of which is semi-psychic, maybe), a rather dim-witted goth girl and the lovely Velvet Luv. Richard brings in Miss Luv (Grotte), a porn star, to help boost the subscriptions to his show. He also promised Velvet a little extra cash if she fucks someone on camera during the game, so our nudity/sex quota is met.

The first problem is with the kids; not a single one of them is likable. Early on we know one of them, Darla, has a psychic or paranormal link to McIntyre, but it is never explained or fully fleshed out. She plays with terrot cards, has visions and can sort of sense when the ghostly killer is approaching but we don’t know why. Her abilities should have made her the main character of the show, but she just stays in the back and bitches when someone isn’t doing something correctly, i.e. calling Sean’s spirit via the Ouija board.

The two jocks, Biff and Brad(!), are equally as dull. However, Brad does get to participate in various funny jokes about erectile disfunction. He is just a giant asshole and does possess a few entertaining lines of dialog. He, along with Velvet are the only ones that appear to be competent actors. Let us not even get started on the lezzy goth girl, Haydn. Have you ever seen a valley girl dress in clothing from Hot Topic? You will with Death On Demand.

Death on Demand (click for larger image)The next issue Death On Demand has is the giant gap between the action. Sure, once things finally get rolling at the end they don’t let up, but sitting through so much useless character development is annoying when all these kids do is get chopped up. A few scenes are funny, like stated before involving Brad and his limp dick. Then there’s the completely useless exposition. Did we really need to see Mr. Sachs talk to his dad about money? Was anything to become of this father-son moment? Nope. What about Darla’s psychic powers? They didn’t really help move the story along that much. Get to the blood and tits already, I’m growing as flaccid as Brad.

There is an upside to this film in the form of juicy gore. When Sean McIntyre returns to the earthly realm he has a few choice weapons to use. His mountain climbing gear comes in very handy for dispatching these young pests who have entered his house. After watching so many cheap zombie flicks where neck biting was the preferred death, there was a refreshing wind blowing when someone got kicked in the face with spiked boots. Remember those tools being used in The Descent? They get even more use here by pulling apart intestines, blowing holes in skulls and severing limbs. Ah, the blood flows so freely past the 50 minute mark that it almost causes one to forgive the snail’s back we rode to get to this point.

Having covered much of the news for this film, I did have high hopes. Though this version of the film reviewed is not the final cut, there’s not much that could be changed to save it from being a very dull affair for almost an hour. The quality of the set designs and beautiful special effects would have been better put to use if so much time was not dedicated to characters who were just thrown away when the film wrapped. The effort was good, the idea was sound but boring someone to tears before things get good is a serious step backwards, nearly trampling all the hard work put into it. Even with these negatives Death On Demand soars over many of the other direct-to-DVD horror flicks that make it to the market.

2 1/2 out of 5

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Mike Phalin

Mike Phalin is a contributing writer, reality television star and engineer.