Horror-film satires are, for the most part, forgettable exercises in cinematic futility. Witness the abysmal Scary Movie series.
Co-directors Scott Rutherford and Ben Peyser both reinforce and buck the trend with their feature debut, Ghost Team One, a terrible yet lovable take on the haunted-house yarn.
Profane, randy, oversexed, and wonderfully juvenile, Ghost Team One stars Carlos Santos and J.R. Villarreal as 20-something slackers Sergio and Brad, who discover their Los Angeles bachelor pad is possessed by a ghost.
Figured in the now-classic and over-used Japanese horror style, the phantom is a seductive, kimono-clad Asian woman .
She first appears in the wee hours, after Sergio and Brad host a kegger. Drunk, stoned, and horny, the dynamic duo teams up with self-professed ghost-whisperer Fernanda (Fernanda Romero), who seems obsessed with death, the afterlife, and all manner of dark things.
Happily, she also is the most beautiful woman either boy has met. Intent on seducing her, they follow every one of her harebrained ideas to contact the spirit.
Ghost Team One has a fine time playing with genre conventions, satirizing the ghost-hunting scenes standard in such fare. Our intrepid trio, who have dubbed themselves Ghost Team One, install mini-cams in every room, whip out the black candles and Ouija board, and go to town.
After conducting an exhaustive 10 minutes of deep historical research (a couple of Google and Wikipedia searches), they discover the house once was a famous brothel whose madame was viciously murdered.
They divine that the specter reveals itself only when there's a precipitous increase of sexual energy in the house, inspiring them to design a series of (R-rated) empirical studies.
Most of the ghost's activity focuses on the house's third occupant, Chuck (Tony Cavalero), a racist bodybuilder who has suffered a psychotic breakdown after quitting a heavy cocaine habit.
Chuck begins to change.
Why does he decide to ditch his standard-issue boxers for brightly colored silk kimonos, Sergio and Brad wonder. Why does he prance about the house in the buff singing Vietnamese songs? And why is he suddenly so fond of pho, a Vietnamese noodle soup?
Is he possessed?
And who wins Fernanda's heart in the end - Sergio or Brad? What about the ghost - does she fall for one of the guys?
All these metaphysical mysteries - and more - are revealed in the bloody, gooey, goopy, gross-out ending.
Ghost Team One **1/2 (out of four stars)
Directed by Scott Rutherford and Ben Peyser. With Carlos Santos, J.R. Villareal, Fernanda Romero. Distributed by Hernany Perla Films.
Running time: 1 hour, 47 mins.
Parent's guide: R (profanity, nudity, sexual situations, violence, drug use, smoking)
Playing at: AMC Loews Cherry Hill 24