Tuesday, October 17, 2023

Onyx the Fortuitous and the Talisman of Souls

Don't pay attention to people who dis on the Eighties. The truth is, the Satanic should always make you panic. Marcus J. Trillbury will have to learn that the hard way, because he is a moron. He wants to escape his dead-end life through the occult. Unfortunately, that just might happen in Andrew Bowser’s Onyx the Fortuitous and the Talisman of Souls, which screens nationwide this Thursday, via Fathom Events.

Trillbury wants everyone to call him Onyx the Fortuitous, but that is obviously ridiculous. It also is not very accurate, since he lives in his mother Nancy’s basement, constantly bickers with her second husband, and works at a cut-rate fast-food joint. He has applied to participate in a mysterious ritual hosted by his heavy metal icon, Bartok the Great, believing it will change his life. However, Bartok has a much different role in mind for the five lucky “sacrifices” he selects, including Trillbury.

The five are a strange group, including an academic (Mr. Duke), a grieving housewife (Shelley), a tattoo-artist-groupie (Jesminder), and a non-binary witchcraft experimenter (Mack). With the help of the resentful Farrah, a minor demon in human form, Bartok intends to raise the grand demon Abaddon and assume his powers on Earth. To do so, he must consign his sacrifices’ souls to eternity in the Talisman of Souls. However, Duke and Mack are smart enough to recognize Bartok and Farrah are not being straight with them.

Apparently, Bowser’s Trillbury character is the star of a popular series of viral videos. That kind of makes sense, because after three minutes, he becomes excruciatingly annoying.
Onyx the Fortuitous happens to be over one hour and forty-five minutes. If Bowser had turned his persona down three or four clicks, it would have been much easier to spend all that time with him.

It is a shame, because
Onyx the Fortuitous reunites Reanimator co-stars Barbara Crampton and Jeffrey Combs as Nancy and Bartok. In many ways, this is an appealing satanic panic horror yarn, somewhat in the tradition of Chemical Wedding, featuring a number of colorful characters. Unfortunately, the Trillbury shtick simply does not wear well over time.

Still, Combs (in a very different sort of horror role) and Olivia Taylor Dudley (playing Farrah) are terrific villains. They are flamboyant in the right way. Terrence “T.C.” Carson is also terrific as Mr. Duke. Plus, it is always nice to see Crampton, who makes the most of her limited screen time. The supporting cast supplies a lot of energy and humor, but Bowser’s Trillbury is just too loud, too overly broad, and just too much.

Onyx the Fortuitous aptly demonstrates how hard it is to get the mix right in horror comedies. The production’s design details are cool and it is always fun to watch cult favorites like Crampton and Combs, but a little less of Trillbury would have been a whole lot more. Mostly recommended for fans of Combs, Onyx the Fortuitous and the Talisman of Souls screens Thursday (10/19) across the country, including the AMC Empire in New York.