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Movie Reviews : 'Ghost Fever' Could Use An Exorcist

September 16, 1987|LEONARD KLADY

"Ghost Fever" (citywide) is frighteningly bad.

The imprimatur of the fictitious director Alan Smithee bodes ill (it's given by the DGA when the real film maker can prove his work has been perverted). This comic yarn concerns two bumbling Southern detectives who come face to presence with eerie forces. They're not ghostbusters, though they borrow liberally from every haunted house spoof in movie history, with additional nods to dozens of other classics, including "Lost Horizon" and "Saturday Night Fever."

Georgia cops Buford (Sherman Hemsley) and Benny (Luis Avalos) are sent to Magnolia Manor to evict its supposedly elderly sisters. They find instead two comely lasses, walls that rotate, torture chambers, things that move through the air unaided and other ghastly goings on. To be brief, the specters of the ancestral plantation prefer to stay put.

So, the police partners are stuck inside and wind up on stakeout duty only when one of the ghosts turns into a vampire. It's a tried and tired case of the audience being Einstein to the movie characters' village idiots. The story lurches, stumbles and winds up literally with a "Rocky" finale.

Unquestionably there's chemistry between actors Hemsley and Avalos but it's far from being of the sure-fire variety. They desperately want to be liked and create a likable entertainment in "Ghost Fever" (MPAA-rated: PG). However, saddled with a hodgepodge script credited to several writers (with at least one using his real name), they don't have a ghost of a chance.

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