A tongue-in-cheek action thriller featuring scantily clad girls with guns fleeing a supernatural killer in a deserted office building, HARD TO DIE tries to use cleverness to conceal its cheapness and doesn't entirely succeed.
Five curvaceous girls--Dawn (Robyn Harris), Diana (Lindsay Taylor), Tess (Melissa Moore), Jackie (Debra Dare) and Shane (Bridget Carney)--are working late, doing inventory for the Acme lingerie company. They accept delivery of a package, then discover it wasn't meant for them, but for Dr. Ed
Newton (Forrest J. Ackerman) at a similar address. After a long day in the deserted basement, where they're frightened repeatedly by scary janitor Orville Ketchum, sole survivor of the notorious Hochsteader sorority house massacre, they decide to finish their work in Acme's offices, located on a
high floor in a deserted tower. They've already been drenched by the sprinkler system, and need no further excuse to use their boss's private shower and change into some of the company's merchandise--after all, their clothes are wet and why shouldn't they finish up the job in bustiers and scanty
They accidentally open the mysterious package, unleashing an evil spirit, and as a storm rages outside, Professor Newton issues a mysterious warning and the phones go dead. Tess and Shane disappear, and the others find their bodies in the basement. They think they're being terrorized by
Orville, but it's really Hochsteader's spirit, which has possessed Diana. Jackie and Dawn find a cache of automatic weapons and blast away, but the final battle is between Ketchum and the possessed Diana. Dawn and Ketchum survive until the next morning, when help arrives.
HARD TO DIE is an ultra-low budget T&A action picture filled with in-jokes: Tess has a date with agent Walter Paisley (the name of a character from an early Roger Corman picture; it's since become a gag among directors who start out working for Corman) and two dead sorority girls are named
Ginger and Mary Anne (attention "Gilligan's Island fans"); the movie features a "soul box" that recalls HELLRAISER's demon-releasing puzzle box (the Egyptian hieroglyphics on its surface include "a row of bald-headed soldiers marching into a fiery opening," says Dawn to Dr. Newton, in a typical
example of the film's smirking sexual humor), Dr. Newton is played by Forrest J. Ackerman, publisher of "Famous Monsters of Filmland" magazine and legendary genre movie buff, and the closing credits include the disclaimer "No girls were actually harmed or mistreated during the production of this
film." Fans may get a smile out of the references, but the movie itself amounts to little more than 90 minutes of girls cavorting in revealing underwear. Director Wynorski, whose filmmaking aspirations are modest, has made such films his specialty.
HARD TO DIE was shot in 1989, after Wynorski had made a film that was eventually released to video as SORORITY HOUSE MASSACRE II, referred to at various times as JIM WYNORSKI'S HOUSE OF BABES, THE SEANCE, and NIGHTIE NIGHTMARE. Produced on the cheap and sly, using standing sets from the
Corman-produced SLUMBER PARTY MASSACRE III, SORORITY HOUSE MASSACRE II was profitable, so Corman encouraged Wynorski to make something just like it, but to make it for his company, Concorde/New Horizons. Wynorski gathered the same cast, moved the location from a sorority house (making sure to
allude to the sorority house massacre) to an office tower, added some DIE HARD elements (at Corman's request), and HARD TO DIE was born. It's proof that the venerable tradition of exploitation filmmaking is being upheld by a new generation of movie makers. (Violence, nudity.)
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