Ghost Fever is a 1987 supernatural comedy directed by Alan Smithee. As soon as I saw that who the film was directed by, I knew I was in for a less than stellar time. For those of you that are unfamiliar with the name Alan Smithee, it is a name director’s use when they don’t want their own name attached to a film they directed. Seeing that name usually means you are in store for something awful.
The film opens during the funeral for Andrew Lee (Myron Healey). After the funeral the ghost of Jethro (Sherman Helmsley, a former slave who was owned by Andrew’s father, appears. He calls out to Andrew who rises from his grave as a ghost. Jethro explains that since Andrew freed him after his father’s death, he is going to let him go haunt anywhere he wants. Andrew decides on Magnolia House, his old plantation.
The film then introduces us to Buford (Helmsley again) and Benny (Luis Ávalos), two detectives who are ordered to go to Magnolia House and serve an eviction notice to the occupants. Buford is scared of the house, saying when he was a child he saw a vampire there. Benny assures him that it was just someone trying to scare him.
The two detectives arrive at the former plantation and make their way inside. Andrew, fearing the house will be torn down and he will lose his place to haunt teams with Jethro (who turns out to be the great-grandfather of Buford), to scare the detectives away. The problem is Andrew’s father, the racist former slave-owner, is haunting the house as well and wants a more permanent end to Benny and Buford. That’s when the “fun” begins.
The effects and the jokes are awful. It’s billed as a family comedy, yet early in the movie Buford stumbles upon the torture chamber that Andrew’s father used to torture and experiment on his slaves. He reads a portion of the the slave-owner’s diary that mentions how “the screams of the slaves excite me”.
The detectives meet the granddaughters of Andrew who are living in the house and a medium who is helping Andrew’s father. Andrew and Jethro do their best to help the detectives as they try to survive the wrath of the former slave-owner, who is revealed to have been turned into a vampire by a voodoo curse his slaves put on him. He also makes zombies. It’s ridiculous.
This movie is bad and not enjoyably bad. At one point Benny and Buford have a dance competition with a mummy who has sunglasses, a bowtie, top hat and tennis shoes. The music and sound cues are ridiculous. The tone is ridiculous. One minute you have them reading the diary of a racist man who tortured and experimented on his slaves, and then you have a gag of a haunted suit of armor barely missing Benny’s head with an ax because Benny was stretching. Scooby-Doo has way better gags then this movie. Just when you think the movie is over, there is a whole boxing segment with Joe Frazier. Seriously.
It’s so bad I can see why the director took his name off the movie.
You can watch the full movie on YouTube below.