For whatever reason, a number of Americans will pass on foreign films simply because they don’t want to read subtitles. DO NOT BE ONE OF THEM. Thanks to the abject horror some feel at being forced to read during a movie, a ton of foreign-language films go overlooked, no matter how worthwhile they are. Director Fabricio Bittar’s Ghost Killers vs Bloody Mary is one of those bloody gems that deserves your attention…
…Written by Bittar, Andre Catarinacho and Danilo Gentili, Brazilian horror flick Ghost Killers vs Bloody Mary plays like the filmmakers each locked themselves away in a closet for a week with nothing but Ghostbusters and Evil Dead films and then stumbled out, picked up a camera, and made a movie. Both franchises are all over the place in this film about a quartet of YouTubers with a fake ghost hunting show, who are hired to pretend to eradicate the ghost of a little girl haunting a Brazilian school. But when the little girl turns out to not only be real, but impossibly deadly, the ghost hunters find themselves in a blood-soaked fight for their lives!
And when I say blood-soaked, I mean BLOOD-SOAKED. Ghost Killers vs Bloody Mary puts an emphasis on the “bloody”. When a film starts off with a young kid attacked by a ghost and left convulsing with blood bubbling out of his mouth, you know you’re in for something. But even that can’t prepare you for the wild carnage that is this film.
In every sense of the phrase, Ghost Killers is a loving homage to all things Ghostbusters and Evil Dead with a splash of the grotesque humor from Peter Jackson’s early works such as Dead Alive. Bittar litters the film with references to these three, right down to the team’s logo, a ghost inside of a yield sign, which Jack (Gentili) makes sure to point out in an argument that it’s not a blatant ripoff (it is). Unlike the charming cast of the beloved 1984 flick though, this crew of ghost hunters is anything but. Jack is an egotistical hack. Fred (Leo Lins) is a sexist d-bag who constantly complains that they got stuck with the “not-hot” teacher to investigate the school with, and Caroline (Dani Calabresa) is an obnoxious false psychic.
The only character worth rooting for in the bunch is Tulio (Murilo Couto), essentially the team’s groupie, who is taken advantage of at every turn. Jack doesn’t pay rent to Tulio, yet buys the team new uniforms (except for Tulio). No one listens to him, despite the fact that he’s the only one who ever has good ideas. And the only use for him that the team has with their videos, is dolling him up in a white dress and a feminine wig and making him play spirit. Tulio is every one of us who’s ever felt unheard, under-appreciated and uncared for, and without him, you’d just be spending every minute of the film waiting for the next character to meet a gory end.
Which, in the case of Ghost Killers, wouldn’t have necessarily been a bad thing, because the kills in this film are straight up applause worthy.
Once the group begins their hunt for the ghost (played by a phenomenally creepy Pietra Quintela), it’s only a handful of minutes before Jack’s dumbass accidentally smashes the mirror which she is trapped in, unleashing her into the halls of the school and pure chaos with her. Similar to Evil Dead, the gleefully evil Catarina (the real name of the Bloody Mary spirit, according to the film’s lore), has no rules or bounds. Like the deadites, she simply is, and can possess anyone at any time, with deliciously bloody results. Heads explode. Blood waterfalls through halls. Pencils are used as inefficient stabbing weapons. Bittar makes it rain gore at this ghost hunting club, literally flooding the film with rivers of the red stuff. By minute forty or even earlier, the entire cast is soaked from head to toe in gore, with so much more to come.
And I know, a lot of critics compare films to Evil Dead, and then you see it and you think, nah, not even close. I get that. No one can replicate Sam Raimi’s directing style or Bruce Campbell’s addictive personality, and Ghost Killers certainly doesn’t top either. But how many films contain scenes with our heroes facing off against an umbilical cord wielding fetus AND a phantasmic, exploding turd? These moments and others would fit snugly into any Evil Dead film, and offer a warm embrace of comedic nastiness to fans of that franchise. Every time you think the film can’t one up itself, it finds a way.
Unfortunately, the film carries over the sexism from the original Evil Dead times ten. Women are treated terribly in this film, used as sex symbols to poke fun at more than anything. And if you think I’m over-exaggerating, just wait until you get to the not so tasteful, extended joke about having a threesome with the spirit of a little girl. Swing and a miss, Ghost Killers.
Ghost Killers doesn’t reinvent the ectoplasmic wheel, or even change the tire, but it does stay in its lane for a smooth ride through insane amounts of gore and entertaining antics. The ending leaves a bit to be desired, and the character development is incredibly disappointing and even frustrating at best, but fans of the over-the-top gore of the Evil Dead films and a huge helping of cringe-worthy humor are going to find a lot worth eating up in this explosive gorefest. In terms of bloodshed, Candyman has nothing on Ghost Killers’ Bloody Mary.
Ghost Killers vs Bloody Mary rains blood on DVD March 10th from Dark Sky Films.
By Matt Konopka