Son of Ghostman (2013) – By Philip Smolen

Denny McNamara (Devin Ordoyne) is having a rough day. First, his girlfriend Renee (Sara Tomko) walks out on him because he doesn’t have a job and he still lives in the house that his father built. Then, his older brother Harold (Joe Lorenzo) threatens to sell that house. On top of that, his sworn high school enemy Rick Heenan (Kurt Larson) is rubbing Denny’s nose in it because he’s making it big on local TV by portraying a horror host called Count Dracool. What’s worse is that a big cable channel is thinking of giving Rick a national TV spot. Depressed, Denny gets drunk one night, puts on the same makeup as his favorite childhood horror host hero, Ghostman and films himself as Son of Ghostman. The next day he wakes up in his driveway and is approached by his new neighbor Zack (Matthew Boehm) who takes Denny’s tape and uploads it to the internet. The video goes viral and Denny, Zack and Denny’s buddy Carlo (Marlon Correa) join together and decide to make more Son of Ghostman videos and they all turn out to be an internet smash. Now all Denny has to do is make his fortune, beat Rick at his own game, save his childhood home and romance Zack’s beautiful Aunt Claire (Angela Gulner) all at the same time. Can Son of Ghostman rise to the challenge?

I’m old enough to remember the age of the horror host. When I was a kid I was glued to my TV every Saturday Night watching the great John Zacherle introduce all those low budget horror and sci-fi films on “Chiller Theater.” Heck, I even watched “Commander USA” in the 1980s on the fledgling USA Network. So “Son of Ghostman” hit a real sweet spot with me. It’s a goofy and charming look at one man’s attempt to both reclaim his life and honor his childhood hero.

Writer/director Kurt Larson has a real affinity for those souls who are lost in the regular 9 to 5 world, and yet somehow are determined to fulfill their dreams. He has created some marvelous characters here that are likeable and easy to identify with. Denny is a lovable mutt who still has his head in the clouds. Zack is the techno wizard who can do anything with a computer, but still has trouble expressing his emotions. Claire is the divorced woman who is trying her best to raise her sister’s teenage son while still smarting over the failure of her marriage. And while these characters may be clichéd, Larson makes them honest, real and fresh.

The best part of the film is watching Denny perform as Son of Ghostman. Seeing him in his outrageous skull makeup and acting all weird and dopey is especially endearing. It gleefully recalls the wonderful days of the local horror host and made me feel like a kid again.

Larson and producer Gabriel Guyer have put together a great ensemble cast that feeds off of each other’s energy. Devin Ordoyne is wonderful as the befuddled Denny. He fumbles about and seems unsure of himself at the beginning, but becomes more confident and sure of himself once he becomes his alter ego. Matthew Boehm is appropriately distant and nerdy as Zack and Angela Gulner exhibits just the right amount of vulnerability as Claire. Both Marlon Correa and Larson give energetic performances as Carlo and Rick.

Even if you’re too young to remember the days of the horror host, I think you’ll still enjoy “Son of Ghostman”. Featuring fabulous songs and nice off-kilter characters, this is one very cool indie flick that is both retro and new at the same time.

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