Full Moon Features is uniformly crap these days. Films with bad actors, being murdered by lousy looking puppets, on cheap sets, with lousy make-up and digital effects. And it's not like the Full Moon "golden age" of the early 1990s produced masterpieces of cinema either. Stripped of nostalgia, even their most polished films are guilty pleasures at best. "Pulse Pounders" was an anthology film shot in 1988, during the waning days of Empire Pictures, when Charlie Band made genuinely good films. The story of how the film was lost until VHS work prints emerged earlier last year is well-known by now. Since Charlie is so bereft of quality productions these days, and wants to milk his fan base for all they're worth, instead of releasing "Pulse Pounders" as a whole, the individual segments have been given stand-alone releases, first "The Evil Clergyman," then "Trancers: City of Lost Angels" later this month, and finally "Dungeon Master II" sometime next year.
"The Evil Clergyman" is a sexed-up take on one of Lovecraft's lesser short stories. Taking place on one set with only a cast of five, a woman visits the home of her deceased lover, a clergyman who, as you may have guessed from the title, was of a less then virtuous nature. Over the twenty-seven minute runtime, she is accosted by the spirit of her dead lover, a spirit of his victim, and his human-faced rat familiar.
The movie invites open comparison to "Re-Animator," featuring Jeffrey Combs, Barbara Crampton, and David Gale. In both films, Gale menaces Crampton while naked, her nude backside getting kissed by the man-faced rat. Charles Band isn't as strong a filmmaker as Stuart Gordon but does a good job here, making decent use of shadows and space. The cast truly shines. Combs is at his sexiest, seducing Crampton, while his malevolent intent is obvious beneath the surface. David Warner has a fantastic cameo as Combs' ghostly victim. The highlight of the film is a frenzied Warner monologue, making it clear to Crampton that her boyfriend isn't a good guy. While Crampton is the lead character, her performance is probably the weakest, with her mostly screaming in fear. Richard Band provides a beautiful longing, sensual, sinister score that feels like it stepped right out of the late eighties.
A simple story, "The Evil Clergyman" prances along at a fine pace, producing some okay atmosphere and even maybe a scare. The ending is delightfully perverse, the moment when you could most be tricked into thinking Stuart Gordon actually did direct this. The presentation is less then ideal, the picture grainy and dark, the dialogue sometimes hard to hear over the rest of the sound mix. This is sort of apropos though, considering so many Full Moon films were first watched as grainy VHS tapes. While ultimately a trifle, "The Evil Clergyman" should definitely be seeked out by fans of the studio, the cast, and the adapted author.
Review by Bonehead-XL from the Internet Movie Database.