A gloomy futuristic tale about desperate junkies prowling city streets for another fix, "Laughing Dead" is a tiresome "Blade Runner"/"Strange Days" wannabe that will barely expand beyond its debut L.A. midnight engagement.

A gloomy futuristic tale about desperate junkies prowling city streets for another fix, “Laughing Dead” is a tiresome “Blade Runner”/”Strange Days” wannabe that will barely expand beyond its debut L.A. midnight engagement.

Hunter (played by helmer Patrick Gleason) is a weak, sick young man who mysteriously washes ashore at a crumbling, crime-ridden city. Hunter is addicted to an unheard-of drug, which makes him fit right in with the soulless addicts who populate the town.

Slight narrative charts Hunter’s fight to stay alive despite his addiction and the threat that Vincent, an evil billionaire who wreaks havoc on the city, poses to the junkies.

First-time helmer-scripter-star Gleason has clearly been influenced by numerous high-profile futuristic noirs, but “Laughing Dead,” with its clumsy script and darkly drab look, lacks the ambiguous narrative and moody ambience of its models. Performances are either overblown or quietly forgettable.

Laughing Dead

(THRILLER)

Production

An ISHI Entertainment production in association with the Helion Group. Produced by Nancy Rhee. Co-producer, Cory Van Dyke. Directed, written by Patrick Gleason. Camera (color) Neal L. Fredericks, Tom Jensen; editor, Bob McFalls; music, Thomas Hart; production designer, Chris Davis; costumes, Ruth Pena, Justine K. Smith; sound, Bob Gremore; special effects, Joshua Brezner; casting Jill Anthony. Reviewed on videocassette, L.A., July 25, 1998. Running time: 85 MIN.

With

Hunter ..... Patrick Gleason Vincent ..... John Hamond Lisa ..... Fern Finer Phinneas ..... Rico Cymone
Follow @Variety on Twitter for breaking news, reviews and more