Unlucky Charms (2013) Review
Bad cinema doesn't have to be this bad, but it's more fun that way.
On the old Saturday Night Live, Dan Ackroyd used to host a recurring skit, “Bad Cinema,” where he celebrated B- and C-movies and worse. He always ended with “That wasn’t very good was it?” But you could tell he enjoyed bad cinema, put in hours downing donuts and watching Herschell Gordon Lewis movies. Bad cinema should be celebrated, for the most part the movies are made on low budgets, but low budgets don’t always guarantee bad cinema. My kids run from the room when I ask if they want to watch cheesy horror. They know I take it seriously, even though I watch them as comedies.
Unlucky Charms was directed by Charles Band, best known for the Puppet Master and Subspecies movies series. His father was Albert Band, who directed the classic I Bury The Living in 1958 and the not-so-classic Dracula’s Dog in 1978 and who produced Trancers III, among other B-Horror favorites. The screenplay was by Kent Roudebush and August Whit and some of it is almost kind of funny.
The messily made up denizens of Leprechaun-land are distraught because four magickal rocks have been assembled in one place, by one person. Kinda like the Triangle of Zinthar from South Park only there’s four of them, like a four-leafed clover (I just got that). They get the vibe that whoever’s got the rocks is an evil and greedy person who will disturb the fabric of whatever they wear there. They obviously don’t worry about color coordination. The most evil, ambitious and dangerous person on planet earth isn’t a dictator or a Fox News pundit, it is aging fashion model DeeDee Deville and she needs those rocks to keep herself young and pretty. She runs a kind of a runway academy contest on Reality TV. There are five sexy contestants and the winner gets to be the face and body for DeeDee Deville’s line of sexy lingerie. The losers get to have their souls sucked out of them and eaten to provide the essence of her “Dorian Gray” magic.
Unlucky Charms opens up in a world that looks like a bowl of cereal before you pour the milk. Purple skies and redheaded leprechauns. Stars and horseshoes, blue moons, pots of gold, rainbows and red balloons. Hearts and clubs. Four of a kind, a cyclops, a banshee, a hobgoblin and a red leprechaun, but everyone’s a four-flusher. A creepy little girl sits with her dapper little friend looking at an empty swing set. I know she’s supposed to be a cute little kid, but she’s just creepy to me. Maybe cute little kids scare me, I was lucky enough to have evil twins as daughters. Unlucky Charms was made on a $500,000 budget and it looks like most of it went into the opening shot. I’m not saying that the makeup is gloopy and rushed, but you can see the spirit gum on the side of the Leprechaun’s head, or that the acting is negligible, because there really isn’t much, although there are game performances throughout. Masuimi Max under the headlight glare of the Cyclops mines some deep method of B-movie acting.
B movie acting is a style, like sitcom and soap opera acting. It is taught in schools and seminars, but it is usually taught on set. Low budgets stop after the first take the actors get through without fucking up. They have to or else they will go over budget. Video low budgets don’t worry so much about acting fuckups.
This is clearly Farr Darrig’s movie, he’s got the trademark on the cereal and the “Magically Malicious” slogan. Played by Nathan Phillips, an Australian actor who was also in motherfucking Snakes on a Plane and Chernobyl Diaries, as another one of in a series of Charles Band’s little people. He is a makeup disaster with glue on his scabby face. Farr Darrig is an Irish fairy, it means Red Man and he’s described in mythology as a cruelly mischievous practical jokester. Here he’s a jokester with a conscience. He has to do DeeDee’s bidding, but he’s not happy about it. The other munchkins are pretty much happy just jumping on the models.
DeeDee is played by Jeryl Prescott who played Jacqui in the first season of The Walking Dead. Prescott also played a judge on Criminal Minds: Suspect Behavior with Forest Whitaker and Eric Roberts and has been seen on Brothers & Sisters, Southland and Parks and Recreation. Charlie O’Connell plays the producer, which basically means he gets to fuck the contestants, well, when he’s not being impersonated by Mr. Headlight, the Cyclops. O’Connell was in The Bachelor, Cruel Intentions, Sliders and Dude Where’s My Car. Seth Peterson from Burn Notice and Providence, plays the gay assistant. He says what he thinks everyone’s thinking. The four acting actors have hammy, cheese eating fun. Mike Diva (Kill the Noise Part 1, PROXY: A Slender Man Story) plays the photographer.
The five contestants are played by a variety pack of eye candy. Masuimi Max from xXx: State of the Union, Inland Empire, and The Devil’s Muse (where she performed a positively mesmerizing dance) and Nikki Leigh who played herself in Blood of 1000 Virgins are the acting standouts. Max was a fetish model, she also ate a bug on Fear Factor. Masuimi Max is also a fire performer and is called on to add heat to movies. She’s fairly well known, or used to be well-known in the goth community because she did some vampire spreads. In Unlucky Charms, she’s got the over-the-topless scene. Nikki Leigh plays the model-wannabe who is obsessed about her weight. Her one big fear is gaining weight. She was a Playboy Playmate as was the other character that gets a topless scene, Anna Sophia Berglund, who does the ditzy blonde thing here like she did in The Girls Next Door. Alex Rose Wiesel (Raisin’ Junior, The Love Triangle, So Random!) is the one who want to win the most. She’s insulting, nasty, undermining and back-stabbing. Tiffany Thornton, from Sonny with a Chance, So Random! and Game Change, plays the contestant who is too nice, not greedy or selfish enough to be a model, she’s also too heavy to be a model, but that doesn’t stop her keeping the rocks for herself.
Unlucky Charms is hammy, bad-horror fun. It’s not scary and it doesn’t do anything new, it doesn’t even do anything new for Charles Band. It’s just over an hour, anything longer would have to be more nude scenes because any more plotting would kill it. It’s exactly what it is. It doesn’t try to be anything more. As Dan Ackroyd would gleefully say, “that wasn’t very good, was it?” It doesn’t have to be. We’re not watching it for the goods, but for the goodies.