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May 13, 2011

Movie Review: Haunted Casino (2009)

I don’t know where you live, but I live in Arizona (for the next few days). In Arizona there are a ton of casinos. Some of these casinos are pretty small and a little creepy. These are the kinds of places where you can see eighty year old women smoking out of a tracheotomy, drunken slobs going broke on the penny slot machine and a buffet that makes public school lunches look like five star meals. If you have any of these little places around you it is an interesting, and depressing, cross section of humanity that owes it’s soul to the dark gods of chance. Charles Band’s Haunted Casino reminded me of these hole in the wall establishments… except it sucked a whole lot worse.

Buy Haunted Casino or Dead Man's Hand - Casino of the Damned, they're the same damn movie.

Released a few years ago as Dead Man’s Hand: Casino of the Damned, the title was changed to Haunted Casino and the box art got a facelift but that didn’t change the utter horribleness that this movie really is. Maybe the puppet masters (pun intended) at Full Moon thought they could sucker a few more people into picking this up… who knows. It does feature Sid Haig and Michael Berryman (briefly), but not even the nostalgia attached to their appearances can cut through the smoke-filled, watered-down cocktail taste this movie leaves in your mouth. The story, if you can call it that, is a simple one. Some dude (Scott White) and his girlfriend (Kristyn Green) take their friends to an old casino the dude has inherited. It is haunted, as per the title, by mobsters that were killed at the casino and they force the horror-movie stereotype characters to play casino games to save their lives (which most of them cannot do). This flick takes forever to get going… like the hour mark (and it’s only 80 minutes long). When it does start going, though, you beg it to stop. You plead with it, hoping you get those triple cherries, snake eyes or a 21. The only way to win at this casino is to see those precious, precious credits. Please!

As a feature film, Haunted Casino would be a good short. Maybe for some anthology TV show or something (but only a crappy one like Freddy’s Nightmares or the 1980s Twilight Zone). As it stands, the foam rubber monsters and 1990s visual effects really only add to the craptacular awesomeness that is Haunted Casino. Written by August White (who has been responsible for the recent Full Moon scripts) and directed by Charles Band himself, Haunted Casino really was torturous. In a way, I gambled. I took a spin on the b-movie roulette. Sometimes it comes up Evil Dead and sometimes it comes up Haunted Casino. Lady Luck not only abandoned me, but she stuck that one-armed bandit right up my oversized keester on the way out.

Dealer busted.

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