6 Horror Movies Involving Gambling & Casinos
Gambling scenes and casinos have been used effectively in many popular movies in the past. Most of these have been either comedy movies (Hangover, What Happens in Vegas), or thrillers (Casino Royale).
Horror is a genre that one would not associate with gambling or casinos at first glance unless you consider these fun horror slots. And you would be hard-pressed to find popular horror movies with a strong element of casino gambling, or just plain old gambling for that matter.
But that does not mean that such a combination does not exist. You just have to dig deep into the rich collection of B-Grade, C-Grade, and Direct-to-Video, and foreign-language horror flicks to build a sizeable collection of horror movies that use gambling in some form or another.
Here is what we managed to dig up:
Leprechaun 3 (1995)
Leprechaun is an iconic slasher horror movie series that started in the 1990s. There are 8 films in total, with the first six starring the legendary Warwick Davis (Ewok Wicket from Star Wars). The series follows the eponymous Leprechaun, a bloodthirsty Irish spirit on his search for his pot of gold across the US.
The movie in focus here is the third installment, a direct-to-video effort with a heavy dose of campy black humor. The reason why it is here – the movie is set in Las Vegas, with casino and gambling as the main backdrop.
The acting is generally over the top and atrocious, save for the excellent Davis who delivers another decent performance as the maniacal Leprechaun. Despite holding a 0% record on Rotten Tomatoes, this movie was the most successful direct-to-video film in its release year.
Fright Night (2011)
The original Fright Night released in 1985 is considered a cult horror classic by many. It tells the story of a 17-year-old horror fan who realizes that his new neighbor is a bloodthirsty Vampire. As the body bags pile up and no one believes his story, our hero is forced to fight the beast on his own, with the help of a famous “vampire slayer.”
The 2011 remake starring Colin Farrell, Anton Yelchin, and David Tennant had good reviews for its mix of horror-comedy, and excellent acting by its main cast. The reason why this one is on our list and not the 1985 original? It is based in a certain city in Nevada, called Las Vegas!
Okay, the link with gambling is a bit tenuous. But Fright Night is worth a watch for David Tennant’s delicious performance as Peter Vincent, a Chriss Angel-style magician, Vegas showman, and vampire expert on the side.
The Haunted Casino (2007)
This rather forgettable horror flick was originally titled Dead Man’s Hand, a slang term for a poker hand considered very unlucky. But as the newer name suggests, it revolves around a haunted casino inherited by some very unlucky individuals.
Located on the outskirts of Vegas, the dilapidated casino is visited by a gang of friends, one of who inherited it from an uncle. Turns out, the place is haunted by 1940’s Vegas mobsters who want to settle scores with the descendants of the old owners.
This B-grade movie features many gambling and casino scenes where the kids are forced to play for their very souls. The movie does not feature any established actors, so don’t expect anything more than mediocre acting at best.
13 Tzameti (2005)
Arguably the best movie on this list based on critical consensus, this French-Georgian movie deals with the ultimate game of chance – Russian roulette. Tzameti means 13 in Georgian. Sebastien, the hero of the movie, is a poor immigrant living in France as a construction worker.
Chance brings him a sealed envelope which details a mysterious job that could make him a rich man. In his desperation, Sebastien follows the instructions inside and finds himself in an isolated cabin in the woods where a criminal syndicate is hosting a deadly gambling tournament.
The game of choice is a version of Russian roulette, where players take revolvers with one bullet inside and shoot at the opponent. Spectators place bets on who will stay alive each round. As the rounds progress, the number of bullets in the guns is increased.
This movie won prizes at the Sundance and Venice Film Festivals in 2006. An inevitable English remake called “13” soon followed, starring Jason Statham, 50 Cent, and Mickey Rourke. We highly recommend the original as it is clearly superior in every way.
Spirits of the Dead (1969)
Dating back to the 1960s, this classic movie anthology depicts three spooky tales from Edgar Allan Poe, the master of horror himself. And the cast is studded with stars of the era – Alain Delon, Brigitte Bardot, Jane Fonda, Peter Fonda, and Terence Stamp.
The segment that lands this movie on our list is the second story, about an Austrian officer stationed in Italy in the 1800s. There is a long and tense gambling scene in this chapter, involving the dashing Alain Delon and Brigitte Bardot, with the stakes raised unbearably high.
The Italian film was dubbed in English when released in the US and UK. It received mixed reviews, with the segment directed by Frederico Fellini getting the best reception.
Steve Niles’ Remains (2011)
Based on the graphic novel by Steve Niles, this is an utterly forgettable zombie horror flick that gets a place on our list because it is set in a Reno casino. An accidental nuke explosion triggers a zombie apocalypse and a bunch of casino employees is the only survivors.
A direct-to-tv movie produced by NBC’s Chiller channel, the movie’s only known face is Lance Reddick (from The Wire and John Wick fame). The rest of the cast is forgettable, and the horror is non-existent.
But there are extended gambling and card game sessions, which qualifies for this list. Let’s say hats off to the makers for setting a zombie movie inside a casino instead of a mall or some other place like that.
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