The Laughing Dead (1989) 1 brain

I was looking forward to seeing The Laughing Dead for one main reason: the cast is mostly sci-fi writers, so I figured if nothing else, there would be some really cool ideas in the script. There were indeed some good ideas, but the faults of the rest of the movie pulled them down. The story is about a priest, Father O'Sullivan (played by Tim Sullivan), who is leading a busload of tourists through Mexico. They run afoul of evil Aztec priests, led by a high priest who also happens to be a doctor of divinity (played by S. P. Somtow, who also wrote and directed).

The problems start with the characters. Most of them didn't die soon enough. Especially annoying was a new age couple who kept raving about auras and crystals and whatnot. I guess they were supposed to be funny, and they might have been if the acting hadn't been so flat. Also on the bus is a nun that Father O'Sullivan knocked up a while back, along with their ten year old or so son whom he has just met for the first time. The son is the typical troubled movie youth, and he and the priest go through the requisite motions of initial mistrust leading to sudden bonding. The other characters have similarly uninspired backgrounds and subplots.

There is supposed to be something special about the priest's son and the way he was conceived. He's part of a master plan or a prophecy that the head Aztec priest is trying to fulfill, but the details are kind of muddled.

The special effects bring some redemption. Although not nearly as numerous or bloody as the box proclaims, they are still the most creative part of this movie. They feature at least one way that I've never seen someone killed before, but I won't spoil the surprise. If you recognize any members of the cast list, you may want to watch this, but otherwise I wouldn't rush out to get it.