Horror, the most cinematic of all genres. It relies on atmosphere, on tension to grip its viewer. These movies are not the big-budget spectacles that fill theatre seats today, they are “real” filmmaking, where the movie relies on the camera, the lighting, the performance, to capture something of aesthetic value that will leave an imprint on the psyche of the audience.
Most non-cinephiles think of horror as one all-encompassing category, little do they know that horror fans delve deep and chop it up into dozens of sub-genres. You have the slasher, the zombie movie, the evil entity film, the ghost story and so on. Horror has been combined with pretty much everything to create something scary on film. But have they gotten into gambling?
Today, gambling has moved mostly online. Testing your luck at an online casino is all the rage. And, why wouldn’t it be? Jackpots reach amazing sums. You get to choose from any kind of game you can think of, from classic card games to roulette to slots with advanced animations and incredible graphics.
Plus, online casinos have loyalty programs, offer free spins, and feature different kinds of bonuses. It doesn’t make sense to walk to a land-based casino anymore when you can play from home.
But how has the film industry incorporated gambling into its product? Well, let’s look at a few scarce examples.
Admit it, this is the first one you thought of. Warwick Davis as the Leprechaun tearing up Las Vegas. He literally tears some people up. While most horror fans know of this cheesy Brian Trenchard-Smith classic, few are aware that it was the highest-selling direct-to-video movie of 1995. This horror-comedy is worth seeing just for a couple of scenes alone. Like when the Leprechaun meets an Elvis impersonator, or when he plays a game of craps at a casino.
The Haunted Casino
Or is it called – Dead Man’s Hand? It’s probably known under the latter, to the very few people that have seen it, thankfully. I’m going to be honest. This movie is awful. It’s a movie about a rundown casino being haunted by a mobster nicknamed “The Word”. What do you expect?
The only reason it made this list is because it blends gambling and horror and the fact that horror icon Sid Haig is in it. And, the only reason it ever got distribution is because it hit the tail-end of the DVD-wave horror movies were riding in the 2000s.
Is it horror? Well, it’s gory, suspenseful and arty. People are gambling with the potential of having their brains blown to bits. It qualifies. This French cult classic was remade in 2010, featuring a very memorable performance by the always great Michael Shannon.
The movie is a story about stolen identity that leads a young man into an underground game where people gamble with their lives by playing something that resembles Russian roulette, except they stand in a circle and aim their guns at the person in front of them. Watch the original. It’s better.