Death by Dialogue (1988) from Tuna

Death by Dialogue is easily one of the oddest horror/slasher films I have had the honor of seeing. I promise everything in this review is completely true.

A group of friends goes to visit one of their eccentric uncles, whose house is a veritable museum of items collected in his world travels. Before the guests arrive, the estate's handyman sneaks into a basement, extracts a script from a locked chest, and starts to read it. When he gets to the part of the script about his being fired, he loses his temper, and walks outside, where he is burned to death on the spot. Our group of friends discovers his remains. Meanwhile, the housekeeper is upset that the script is missing.

When the group settles in a bit, Laura Albert is having hot sex in the part, with her panties on, when she is suddenly blown through the front door of the hay loft and falls to her death. Her boyfriend is untouched, but not real happy, and runs outside to find a really bad 1980s big-hair metal band playing in the woods. Somehow, that kills him as well.

We then learn the history of the magical script. During his travels, the uncle was elected to the hall of fame of some reclusive Pre-Columbian tribe. When a reporter was overly persistent about taking their picture to accompany a story, they killed him, but his spirit caused them a whole bunch of grief, so they trapped his ashes in a magic urn, and sent him home with the unsuspecting uncle. One day the housekeeper was overzealous in her dusting, and let the spirit out of the urn. The spirit of the reporter immediately possessed the script of the movie being shot at the movie studio next door, and the cast started really dying. That is when the uncle trapped the script, originally called Victim, in the urn with the ashes. Now that the spirit and script are again free, the script is calling itself Victim 70, representing a total body count which includes the most recent three deaths.

That is nearly as far as I want to go in the plot description, other to say that the demon suddenly turns into a bald-headed guy with a big sword, and then two freaks on motorcycles. This prompts the best line of dialogue in the file, "Ya-Fuckin'-Hoo." The living then try to find some way to trap the evil spirit, but every time they try something, the spirit rewrites the script.

We have breasts from Laura Albert early in the film in the sex scene that precedes her death scene, and then again near the end when the other woman of the group of friends has a nightmare about her in which she is standing by a pool of water in a flowing white dress when her boyfriend drives up in a race car. She bares her breasts, then takes off his racing scarf, and calmly takes off his head with it. Ms. Albert has 55 credits at IMDb, the most recent being last year. It would not be surprising if you do not recognize her, since 40 of the credits are for stunt work. That isn't as odd as the fact that writer/director Tom DeWeir also earned 113 of his 125 film credits for stunt work. He directed only one other movie, something called Contra Conspiracy, which was also made in 1988.

I have no idea what, if anything, Tom and his crew were thinking when they made this one, and would love to hear their thoughts.  If ever a film cried out for a commentary, this is the one, but the DVD is bare bones. A small number of IMDb voters assign it a 2.6. That is either way too high, or a little low, depending on whether you feel it is appropriate to laugh at the work of the handicapped.



  • You get what you might expect when three movies cost eight dollars



Laura Albert - breasts. See above for details.

The Critics Vote ...

  • No major reviews online

The People Vote ...

The meaning of the IMDb score: 7.5 usually indicates a level of excellence equivalent to about three and a half stars from the critics. 6.0 usually indicates lukewarm watchability, comparable to approximately two and a half stars from the critics. The fives are generally not worthwhile unless they are really your kind of material, equivalent to about a two star rating from the critics, or a C- from our system. Films rated below five are generally awful even if you like that kind of film - this score is roughly equivalent to one and a half stars from the critics or a D on our scale. (Possibly even less, depending on just how far below five the rating is.

Our own guideline:

  • A means the movie is so good it will appeal to you even if you hate the genre.
  • B means the movie is not good enough to win you over if you hate the genre, but is good enough to do so if you have an open mind about this type of film. Any film rated B- or better is recommended for just about anyone. In order to rate at least a B-, a film should be both a critical and commercial success. Exceptions: (1) We will occasionally rate a film B- with good popular acceptance and bad reviews, if we believe the critics have severely underrated a film. (2) We may also assign a B- or better to a well-reviewed film which did not do well at the box office if we feel that the fault lay in the marketing of the film, and that the film might have been a hit if people had known about it. (Like, for example, The Waterdance.)
  • C+ means it has no crossover appeal, but will be considered excellent by people who enjoy this kind of movie. If this is your kind of movie, a C+ and an A are indistinguishable to you.
  • C means it is competent, but uninspired genre fare. People who like this kind of movie will think it satisfactory. Others probably will not.
  • C- indicates that it we found it to be a poor movie, but genre addicts find it watchable. Any film rated C- or better is recommended for fans of that type of film, but films with this rating should be approached with caution by mainstream audiences, who may find them incompetent or repulsive or both. If this is NOT your kind of movie, a C- and an E are indistinguishable to you.
  • D means you'll hate it even if you like the genre. We don't score films below C- that often, because we like movies and we think that most of them have at least a solid niche audience. Now that you know that, you should have serious reservations about any movie below C-. Films rated below C- generally have both bad reviews and poor popular acceptance.
  • E means that you'll hate it even if you love the genre.
  • F means that the film is not only unappealing across-the-board, but technically inept as well.


Based on this description, this film is a C-, in the "so bad it's good" genre, based on plenty of (presumably) unintentional laughs. If that is not your cup of tea, consider it a low F.

Return to the Movie House home page