A Mardi Gras Film Review: Mardi Gras For The Devil (dir by David A. Prior)

A maniac is holding New Orleans hostage!  He’s committed a series of savage, Satanically-influenced homicides and the police cannot seem to even slow him down!  The entire city is terrified!

Well, actually … New Orleans doesn’t seem to be scared at all.  In fact, no one in this movie seems to be all that disturbed by all of the brutal murders that are happening around them.  Some people would probably say that’s because this film takes place during Mardi Gras and everyone’s too drunk to notice.  Why worry about being murdered when all you have to do to get a bunch of cheap beads is flash a boob?  Add to that, this is New Orleans.  New Orleans is a very forgiving city.

Anyway, regardless of whether people care or not, there’s a Satanic murderer prowling through the city.  Who is the killer?  Could he possibly be that guy who always dresses in black, who has a perfectly trimmed beard, and who is always throwing back his head and laughing before doing something evil?  The guy’s name is Bishop and he’s played by everyone’s favorite Canadian character actor, Michael Ironside.  As far as Michael Ironside villains are concerned, Bishop is pretty frightening though he’s nowhere near as a frightening as Darryl Revok.  I mean, he does a lot of evil stuff but he doesn’t actually make anyone’s head explode.

Detective Mike Turner (Robert Davi) is obsessed with stopping Bishop.  Unfortunately, Detective Turner doesn’t appear to be very good at his job.  I mean, everyone he knows he keeps getting seriously injured.  His first partner dies.  His second partner gets run over by a bus.  His ex-wife (Lesley-Anne Down) ends up trapped in a pool.  His girlfriend (Lydie Denier) ends up getting tied up in a barn while a time bomb ticks down across from her.  Fortunately, a few of these people do manage to survive.  Turner may not be a very good cop but, fortunately, Bishop isn’t that good of a serial killer.

It soon becomes apparent that Bishop has a motive for all of his murders, one that goes beyond the usual serial killer weirdness.  It turns out that Bishop’s murders are actually sacrifices and he has given his soul to Satan.  Giving your soul to the devil apparently gives you the power to do whatever the script needs you to do at any particular moment in the movie.  Fortunately, it also leaves you with a weakness that can be exploited whenever the movie decides to come to an end.

Am I saying that Mardi Gras For the Devil makes no sense?  I most definitely am!  However, that’s actually the film’s charm.  The film was made with so little concern for continuity and narrative logic that it plays out like a fever dream.  The cast is surprisingly good for a film like this, which means that everyone delivers the strangest of lines with the utmost sincerity.  Michael Ironside plays his role without a hint of subtlety, which is exactly the type of bad guy that a film like this requires.  Meanwhile, Robert Davi brings a weary cynicism to his role.  You can just hear him thinking, “Satanic serial killers?  I’m too old for this shit.”  Combine that with a fiery ending that doesn’t even try to make sense and you have a movie that, perhaps through no intention of the film’s director, manages to create and sustain a very surreal atmosphere.  The film may not be any good but it’s hard to look away from.

Though the film takes place at Mardi Gras and was released, in some countries, as both Mardi Gras For The Devil and Mardi Gras Nightmare, it actually has very little do with Mardi Gras.  The opening scenes were shot during a Mardi Gras parade but that’s about it.  The film was also released under the title Night Trap, which is a woefully generic title.  You can find the movie on YouTube.

A Movie A Day #267: Satan’s Princess (1990, directed by Bert I. Gordon)

Lou Cherney (Robert Forster) was a top police detective until a perp with a shotgun shattered his leg.  Now, Lou’s a private investigator with a limp, a girlfriend (Caren Kaye), and a learning disabled son named Joey (Philip Glasser).  When Lou is hired to track down a missing girl, he discovers that she is now the lover of Nicole St. James (Lydie Denier), the head of a modeling agency.  Nicole seduces Lou within minutes of meeting him but, when Lou attempts to return the missing girl to her family, Nicole reveals that she is actually an ancient demon and she possesses Joey.  Soon, Joey is carrying an ice pick and throwing people out of windows.

An example of the type of movies that Robert Forster was stuck making before Quentin Tarantino engineered his comeback with Jackie Brown, Satan’s Princess is also noteworthy for having been directed by Bert I. Gordon.  Gordon is best known for making cheesy giant monster movies, like The Amazing Colossal Man, Beginning of the End, and Empire the Ants.  There are not any giant monsters in Satan’s Princess, which instead emphasizes lesbian sex scenes, possessed children, and Robert Forster using a blowtorch to take on a demon.  Satan’s Princess also features the spectacle of a demon fleeing the scene of a crime by stealing a car.  Why a demon who can possess people and do almost anything would need to steal car in order to make escape is a question that Satan’s Princess never answers.

Satan’s Princess is even dumber than it sounds but Robert Forster delivers.  There is no real reason for Lou to be crippled so I like to think that, one day, Forster announced that if he was not allowed to carry a cane in all of his scenes, he wouldn’t do the movie.  Watching Forster give a good performance in even a piece of dreck like Satan’s Princess makes me all the more grateful that Tarantino cast him in Jackie Brown and allowed Forster the chance to once again appear in movie worthy of his talents.

Bert I. Gordon’s career as a filmmaker began in 1954.  Satan’s Princess was his 23rd movie and, for over 20 years, it was also his last.  In 2014, Gordon finally returned to directing with Secrets of a Psychopath.