This film tells you pretty early on that it’s not going to be quite as po-faced and serious as many SyFy Channel original films. Frankie Muniz and Barry Bostwick, two stars of TV sitcoms, are main cast members, it’s got a silly title, and there are couple of cameos right at the beginning which are a real treat for fans of this sort of cinema.
Joe Dante and John Landis, who between them have directed classics like “The Howling”, “An American Werewolf in London”, “Gremlins”, “The Blues Brothers”, “Matinee” and “National Lampoon’s Animal House”, are billed as Salesman No.1 and No.2 in this movie, and exist to give us a flavour of the magical sword that is this film’s catalyst. After trying to steal it and getting killed, the film proper can start…if you’re wondering why a priceless Egyptian artefact would get transported to Las Vegas in a normal postal van, then brother do I have some plot holes for you later in this movie.
The important thing when dealing with your cannon fodder is to be simple when you’re sketching them in. So, our two main groups are a fraternity – two scumbags, a decent-ish guy and Frankie Muniz, the bookish guy who’s only there because his grandfather founded the fraternity – and a group of party girls down for spring break (with a similar breakdown of personalities, only for Muniz insert Maggie Castle, best known for “Todd And The Book Of Pure Evil”). They meet up and pair off remarkably quickly, as if the film is saying “come on, you guys! You know how this goes!”
The sword from before has made its way to its final location, the lobby of a casino. Now, I’m no antiques expert, so I’ll ask you, dear reader. If you were displaying a priceless Egyptian artefact in your casino, would you:
1. Put armed guards nearby, put it inside a locked glass case, make sure there was a ton of security measures
2. Leave it sort-of attached to a statue, with one bored-looking, easily distracted guard and no other security whatsoever?
Thankfully, this place picks 2, so the frat guys can steal the sword, take it outside and ram it into the ground, activating the ancient curse, which is mainly snakes, sand, and snakes made out of sand. Frankie and Maggie, along with the rest of the boys and girls, Barry Bostwick as a truly dreadful lounge singer and a large group of people they just pick up along the way, team up to try and stop the curse, getting separated and killed along the way.
Maggie has a rather odd journey. Getting separated from the rest of them near the beginning of the all-out assault on Vegas, she is able to call and tell them she’s in a certain casino, so the rest of them try and make their way to her. She then goes off for an adventure of her own, making her way to the motorway overlooking the city, meeting a poor-quality Elvis impersonator and fighting off a CGI tiger, before going back to the casino and getting trapped under some rubble just before the cavalry arrives. It feels like they were ten minutes short and decided to just insert some stuff with a line to justify its presence, because it makes absolutely no sense whatsoever – first and foremost, she must have walked for miles, in a sandstorm, and done it in a very short amount of time. Anyway.
Thankfully, with Maggie and Frankie being geology / ancient legend experts, they’re able to identify the things they need to stop the curse, and the rest of the film is them zipping to and fro to pick up the pieces. All their hangers-on meet a rather hilarious end too, as they ignore good advice, try and get out of a side door and are immediately killed. Karma is virtually instant in this film – be horrible, and chances are by the end of the scene you’ll be dead.
I think SyFy Channel should keep employing these people to make more movies. This was fun, had lots of nice little touches to let you know the people making it gave a damn, and even the digressions clearly added to pad the runtime were okay to watch. I’d pay to watch Muniz, Castle and Bostwick take on other problems in other exotic locations, even.
Rating: thumbs up