There's little to celebrate in MARDI GRAS FOR THE DEVIL, a formulaic supernatural picture.
Troubled cop Mike Turner (Robert Davi), with his partner Johnson (David Dahlgren), witnesses the murder of a hooker by a sardonic killer named Bishop (Michael Ironside). Pursuing the villain, Turner finds Johnson dead and is confronted by Bishop, who questions the strength of the cop's soul
before leaping through a sixth-floor window and vanishing. Captain Hodges (John Amos) doesn't believe Turner's story of a supernatural killer, but allows him to continue the investigation with a new partner, Williams (Mike Starr). They meet the victim's roommate, Valerie (Lydie Denier), and Turner
spots Bishop again and gives chase, losing him when the killer again demonstrates superhuman powers and kills an innocent motorist in the process. Hodges threatens to take Turner off the case.
After discovering another of Bishop's victims at a strip club, Turner is approached by Valerie's elderly occultist landlady, Miss Sadie (Margaret Avery); she tells him that Valerie is in danger, and Turner rescues her from Bishop, who taunts him further before vanishing. Sadie informs Turner
that Bishop is a demonic spirit who has existed since the first Mardi Gras, which was once celebrated with sacrifices; later, Turner and Valerie make love while Bishop slays yet another victim.
Bishop approaches Christine (Lesley Anne-Down), the estranged wife for whom Turner still cares deeply, then frightens Sadie into a fatal heart attack and confronts Turner as he is attempting to escort Valerie to safety on a paddleboat, telling him he has until the end of Mardi Gras to redeem his
weak soul. Ultimately, Turner discovers that Hodges had encountered Bishop two decades before, when the demon killed his partner--Turner's father. Bishop then appears once again, informing Turner him that he must face the ultimate test: both Christine and Valerie's lives are in danger, and he only
has time to save one. Turner saves Christine from drowning in her swimming pool, then races to save Valerie--just in time to see a fiery explosion intended to kill her. But Valerie has been rescued by Hodges, who joins Turner in setting a trap for Bishop. The captain winds up dying in an explosion
that leaves Bishop unscathed, but Turner calls upon all his spiritual strength and is able to drive Bishop back to hell. Valerie moves on, and Turner is reunited with Christine.
MARDI GRAS FOR THE DEVIL was advertised as being "in the tradition of ANGEL HEART," but it's a far more prosaic and predictable film and, most disappointingly, actually has fewer exploitable elements--sex, violence, sleaze, etc.--than its big-budget inspiration. Even on its own terms, MARDI GRAS
doesn't offer much, just a group of performers better than the material, going through the motions for the sake of a movie that seems to exist largely to fill a video distributor's product quota. The film provides nothing in the way of surprises; the sole original hook, Turner's struggle to hold
on to his soul in the face of Bishop's challenges, is uncompellingly developed and presented. Davi invests his role with some gravity, but Ironside, so good as villains in the likes of SCANNERS and TOTAL RECALL, is disappointingly restrained as Bishop.
The movie is technically adequate, though Christopher Farrell's synthesized score sometimes sounds cheap and amateurish. Don E. Fauntleroy's photography is slick, but there's not enough real Mardi Gras atmosphere to justify the title, which appears to have been a last-minute substitution for the
original title, NIGHT TRAP; the change have been effected to avoid confusion with the notoriously violent home video game of the same name. (Violence, nudity, sexual situations, profanity.)
Cast & Details See all »
- Released: 1993
- Rating: R
- Review: There's little to celebrate in MARDI GRAS FOR THE DEVIL, a formulaic supernatural picture. Troubled cop Mike Turner (Robert Davi), with his partner Johnson (David Dahlgren), witnesses the murder of a hooker by a sardonic killer named Bishop (Michael Iro… (more)