Written and directed by Kurt Larson
Son of Ghostman has sat patiently amongst a stack a DVDs I have on my review “to do” list. Each time I thought I had a chance to get to it, something else would come up, and Son of Ghostman would get put on the back burner again. This happened so many times I thought I might miss the window of opportunity to review this film. I’m very glad that didn’t turn out to be the case.
I sat down to check out Son of Ghostman knowing nothing except the fact that it had something to do with horror movie hosts… the kind we all found so intriguing as kids with Elvira: Mistress of the Dark probably being the most famous of all. The movie rolled, and although I was completely drawn into it, I kept wondering, “Okay, when does this become a horror movie?” And it never really did. The end credits rolled, and the only thing I could think was that I had just watched a romantic comedy. And I haven’t seen a romantic comedy since Tom Hanks was making them. Then the realization came to me: This wasn’t a horror movie. This was a movie for (and very much about) horror fans.
Just as Adam Green uses “Holliston” as his own personal tribute to the horror community, Kurt Larson, the writer-director of Son of Ghostman, uses his movie in the same way. Its main character is Denny McNamara, a lovable loser who gave up a lucrative job to follow his dream of owning a business that creates movie props. Denny is a huge horror fan and is driven nuts by the fact that a local douchebag by the name of Rick Heenan (even the name sounds douchey) is on the verge of nabbing a national cable television deal for his movie host character, Count Dracool. Denny’s most beloved figure in horror was a host named Ghostman, played by an actor who drank his way right out of the business and into anonymity. With a unlikely cast of characters helping him, Denny creates his own horror host character and internet buzz as Son of Ghostman. Enter a red-headed beauty that makes Denny’s life much more complicated, but also much more fulfilled, and you have the synopsis of Son of Ghostman.
So why am I reviewing the film here? It’s obviously not the normal fare for the site. The reason for the review is that Denny, the main character in Son of Ghostman, is us. He’s me, he’s you, he’s a die-hard horror fan that stands by the genre he loves, hoping to make it as a prop designer, but even if he doesn’t, he still cares enough about horror to become totally incensed by the fact that a totally lame-ass local horror host is potentially going to be representing the genre on a national cable broadcast. He’s passionate. He’s creative. He’s a little off-center. Sound familiar? Son of Ghostman is as much a film for horror fans as any slasher or haunted house pic.
Starring as Denny is Devin Ordoyne, and not enough can be said about his performance in the film. His presence is very Vince Vaughn-esque, and he plays an extremely lovable character. And if his quirky demeanor isn’t enough for you in his normal life, when he puts on his Son of Ghostman costume and gets in front of the camera, he becomes even more entertaining. Angela Gulner as his love interest, Claire, radiates a girl next door beauty and spirit. And one must wonder… Is it a coincidence that Denny’s white-faced, bald-headed Ghostman persona looks a lot like a certain Pumpkin King, Jack Skellington, while Claire’s flowing red hair and big, beautiful eyes are reminiscent of Sally, the beloved couple from A Nightmare Before Christmas?
Matthew Boehm plays Claire’s snarky nephew, Zach, delivering some of the funniest lines of the film with a dry but fiery tongue. Writer-director Larson himself plays the dreaded Count Dracool with a smarmy ickiness that you can’t help but dislike… just as Larson wants you to.
Adding to the charm of Son of Ghostman is the fact that this movie was truly a labor of love. Larson had only a true skeleton crew to work with to help him create it. And when I say “skeleton crew,” I mean it. It was Larson and one other crew member, Gabriel Guyer. It doesn’t get any more skeleton-y than that!
Of course we do have to look at some of the technical issues that can be found in the movie. No, it’s not perfectly in focus all the time, and there may be a couple sound issues here and there. But dammit, people, it was a two-man crew. In all seriousness, the fact that a crew of just two guys was able to put together something that looks and feels this professional is quite amazing. Yes, there are the issues noted, and all the actors aren’t exactly Michael Caine, but these few blemishes do not detract from the heart of Son of Ghostman in any way.
Again, there is really nothing horrific about Son of Ghostman aside from the fact that it’s based on horror movie hosts, but without a doubt it should be watched by horror fans. If you enjoy “Holliston,” this will be right up your alley. It’s a bit rough around the edges but genuinely fun and funny. Writer-director Larson pulled off an incredible accomplishment with Son of Ghostman, and it’s something anyone reading this site will enjoy. If you need an ever so brief break from the slashers, monsters, and arterial spray, look no further than Son of Ghostman for a great change-of-pace film.
3 1/2 out of 5