Tales From the Shelf – Diagnosis: Death

Diagnosis Death

Shelf Life: November 2011-January 2013

Paid: $9.99 (Previously Viewed)


Movie, could you tell me just what the hell I should be feeling watching you? Cause I really can’t tell whether you want me to laugh or not. You do know that there is nothing inherently funny about some one murdering a mother and her son? Or that there is defiantly nothing inherently funny about cancer. So why did you think it was a good idea to make a comedy that revolves around Murder and Cancer?

I’m not saying you can’t make these things funny, “Heathers” was a dark comedy about suicide and “Long Pigs” was a dark comedy about a serial killer and I really like those movies, but common sense says if you’re making a goofy comedy these are things you should either:

A: avoid


B: make funny

It definitely isn’t something to make the first 30 minutes about then not mention again till the end of the film. If it’s just to get them in the hospital it could have been anything, why pick something that could alienate your audience? Or is cancer just funny in New Zealand? Maybe this isn’t a comedy, maybe it’s a Shock movie similar to Pink Flamingos, a movie not meant to make the audience laugh but make them squirm. Diagnosis Death does feature cancer, a teacher sleeping with a student and a lesbian nurse unsubtly lusting after a cancer patient. It is also the only film I’ve seen that features an anus cam.


“Surrender your secrets to Zoidberg”

Or maybe its just a sub par comedy that bizarrely picked the most off putting subject matter imaginable.

“Diagnosis Death” is about Andre Chang (Raybon Kan) an English teacher and an eighteen year old student named Juliet Reid (Jessica Grace Smith) who are given inoperable cancer by a pair of ghosts (yes, really) who volunteer to under go a trial for an experimental drug (the movie reminds us on several occasions that it might cause hallucinations). The two of them start to see the ghosts of a writer and her dead son who, like all ghosts, are frustratingly obtuse as to just what they want. Creepy stuff happens and Juliet keeps dragging Andre along to try and solve the mystery.

“Diagnosis Death” clocks in at a scant 80 minutes including credits, yet is still padded all to hell. The movie moves at a snail’s pace constantly repeating the creepy ghost clues at night and banter between the two leads during the day. This would be acceptable if the dialogue was funny or amusing. The majority of the movie is the banter between them yet it is without a doubt the worst thing about the movie. The dialogue is just plain dull. The two leads are perfectly acceptable performers yet they are left at the mercy of poorly paced script with really dull dialogue and one dimensional characters.

The horror elements and the comedy elements just don’t mesh at all. If anything the comedic scenes feel out of place and serve mostly to slow the movie down. This is unfortunate because the horror sequences are quite well done with some legitimately frightening scenes especially those that feature Nurse Margret Bates (Sue Tye) who is unsubtly lusting after Juliet.


 I won’t dwell on the lesbian nurse thing, though amusing it isn’t half as funny as the filmmakers thought it was. But I will say she is in fact a perfect antagonist for a horror comedy as her performance is good mixture of both menace and camp.

There is a scene where Andre and Juiliet have sex and the camera pans up to show the cancer ghosts graphically grinding against each other (Complete with cumshot)


Pictured: ghost jizzum

So if these ghosts are the murdered child and her mother did I just witness necrophilic, pedophilic, incest?

Verdict:  This movie does feature some impressive production values given the low budget some good acting and a few funny gags, but to what end? It is just plain dull. There are much better horror comedies out there and I wouldn’t recommend a boring one that features necrophilic, pedophilic, incest?

Diagnosis: Death: 4/10

Next week: Jerry and Tom


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