Everything I know about gypsies I learned from TLC.
With all its bling and bleeped-out curse words, “My Big Fat American Gypsy Wedding” is more style and stereotypes than substance when it comes to “real gypsies.” Frankly, like seeing a relative on “Cops,” you can guarantee producers will only focus on the tackiness and drunken brawls.
The same goes for gypsies in horror movies.
Not a genre often heralded for groundbreaking depictions of minorities – yep, the black guy still dies first, see “The Blair Witch” – horror movies tend to rely on stereotypes.
“Drag Me to Hell” is just such a film. Everything about its use of gypsies and gypsy curses is cliché. But that doesn’t mean it wasn’t a lot of fun.
Directed by “Evil Dead” maestro Sam Raimi, “Drag Me to Hell” tells of Christine, a young loan officer who “shames” Sylvia Ganush, a gnarly old gypsy woman who’s pleading for a loan extension to keep the bank from repossessing her home.
Rocky and Apollo Creed got nothing on these two women when it comes to fighting. Their battles take place at various times across the film – even after the old gypsy woman dies – and are cartoonishly brutal, as are some of the things that happen to poor Christine. Suffice it to say that bodily functions play a huge role.
Christine is not only haunted – not to mention beaten bloody – by the ghost of the old gypsy, she is also terrorized by an actual demon called a lamia. A lamia is actually a bogey-woman from Greek mythology who stalks the countryside looking for children to devour; it was a story used to get young children into their beds at bedtime.
When Sylvia Ganush attacks Christine in her car, she curses in Hungarian, “Az ördög szálljon beléd!” (“Shall the devil fly into you!”), thus unleashing the lamia upon Christine.
From there, much hilarity – and more than a few bodily horrors – ensue. Less a scary movie than a comedy with a few scares, “Drag Me to Hell” is pure Sam Raimi. All the familiar tropes are here, including the yellow Oldsmobile Delta 88 driven by the old gypsy, which is the same car used in the “Evil Dead” films.
“Drag Me to Hell” is wacky and wonderful, fast-paced and more than a little silly (check out the famous goat séance).
I loved every minute of it.