Ragdoll (1999)

ragdoll_1Starring Russell Richardson, Jennia Fredrique, Tarnell Poindexter, William Stanford Davis, Danny Wooten, William L. Johnson, Troy Medley, Frederic Tucker, Freda Payne

Directed by Ted Nicolaou

Expectations: I don’t expect much, but I hope it’s fun.

On the general scale:

On the B-movie scale:

Ragdoll is a pretty fun, voodoo/black magic themed horror movie, but I wouldn’t hold it against you if you didn’t make it past the first couple of minutes. The film’s lead character is Kwame (Russell Richardson), but Ragdoll starts with a flashback intro, showing us a moment in the childhood of Kwame’s grandma. Her mother — Kwame’s great grandmother — was a practitioner of the black arts, and apparently she made a bad deal with the Shadow Man. Due to this, Kwame’s grandmother witnessed her mother’s murder by an agent of the Shadow Man, in this case, a haunted dress. It’s as scary and convincing as it sounds; it looks like someone is just off-screen with a fishing pole waving the dress around.

I thought this traumatic moment might cause Kwame’s grandmother to live a life free of the dark arts, but no! When we flash-forward to the present day, we learn that dear ol’ Gran is indeed a dabbler in the occult, she just does so with a supreme respect and knowledge of what might happen if she isn’t careful with how she conducts her dealings with the other side. Kwame, though, has had no such trauma in his life, so when his up-and-coming rap group (called KT Bounce) is forced into a managerial contract with a ruthless gangster, Big Pere (William Stanford Davis), he seeks the help of the Shadow Man to fight his battles.

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Killjoy (2000)

Starring Angel Vargas, Vera Yell, Lee Marks, Dee Dee Austin, Jamal Grimes, Corey Hampton, Rani Goulant, Napiera Groves, Arthur Burghardt, William L. Johnson, Penny Ford, Carl Washington, Dionne Rochelle

Directed by Craig Ross Jr.

Expectations: Low, but if it’s a series, there has to be something good about it, right?

On the general scale:

On the B-Movie scale:

Going into Killjoy I knew nothing of the plot or what to expect. All I knew was that on every DVD cover I’d seen there was a scary clown with a wild look in his eyes. Full Moon’s modern series have been real hit or miss with me, so I expected the worst from Killjoy. Perhaps it was these tempered expectations, but Killjoy kept me entertained, made me laugh and horrified me at the same time; it was a resounding success. If you dig B-Movies and Blaxploitation films, then Killjoy is a low-budget entry you should definitely check out.

The film opens with the mild-mannered Michael asking Jada out to the prom. Jada and her friend Monique laugh him off, but when Jada’s boyfriend, the gang member Lorenzo, arrives with his homies, they beat the shit out of Michael for his transgression. Michael retreats home and resorts immediately to black magic, hoping to summon Killjoy from the depths to aid him in his revenge fantasy. While this is obviously not Pulitzer Prize material, Killjoy is well-written, if a bit clichéd, and its short runtime promises a film that never gets boring. In the world of low-budget horror, that counts for a lot.

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