APRIL MOVIE THON DAY 28: Ghost Fever (1987)

Sherman Hemsley from The Jeffersons is Buford Washington. Luis Ávalos from The Electric Company is Benny Alvarez. And they’re Greendale County, GA — yes, a black man and a Latino in the South! — police officers sent to serve an eviction notice to a plantation when the ghosts of the former slavemaster that owned the house, Andrew Lee (Monogram Pictures star Myron Healey), and one of his slaves named Jethro (also Hemsley), defend the home from beyond. Yes, a black man and his owner working together!

There’s also a torture room that neither Lee nor Jethro know about. That’s because it was the super racist grandfather vampire who did it all and his granddaughters — Linda (Deborah Benson) and Lisa (Diana Brookes) — need help.  Cue the scary music, bring in Madame St. Esprit (Jennifer Rhodes) and the ill-fated seance. Meanwhile, zombies pop up and Buford has to win the house from the bank in a boxing match against Joe Fraizer.  Smoking Joe isn’t the only combat sports veteran in this, as former pro wrestler Pepper Gomez is in the cast.

Then, the ghosts kill Benny and Buford, keeping the house — and the girls — all for themselves. If this seems like a narrative shift in a slapstick comedy, then you’re correct.

Screenwriter Oscar Brodney hadn’t written a movie in 16 years before this, but he did write Harvey, which does not translate into making this movie a success. The Alan Smithee credited for this film is really Lee Madden, who made Hell’s Angels ’69, The ManhandlersAngel UnchainedThe Night God Screamed and Night Creature. He hadn’t made a movie in eight years, but that could be because he was busy making commercials for car lots.

This was filmed in 1985 but not released until 1987 due to extensive re-shooting and re-editing, resulting in Madden demanding that his name be removed from the credits. It was produced by Hemsley and he lost most of the money he’d made in his career on this.

Oddly enough, Hemsley was super into prog rock and allegedly worked with Yes’s Jon Anderson on a funk-rock opera by the name of Festival Of Dreams about the “spiritual qualities of the number 7.” Daevid Allen from Soft Machine and GONG claimed that Hemsley had an LSD lab in his basement and had a room named the “Flying Teapot room,” named for the GONG song, with “…darkened windows and “Flying Teapot” is playing on a tape loop over and over again. There were also three really dumb-looking, very voluptuous Southern gals stoned and wobbling around naked. They were obviously there for the guys to play around with.

They used to call PCP Sherman Hemsley because it made people rude, just like his character. I believe that maybe he was making it!

Here’s the man dancing to Nektar’s “Show Me the Way.”

Let’s therefore forget this movie and enjoy the magical world we live in, where Yes and George Jefferson make music together.

You can watch this on YouTube.

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