Tag: anthology

ANOTHER-ANTHOLOGY-OF-ANTHOLOGIESI once again find myself discussing one of my favorite subgenres; anthologies! Something about these things Always makes me feel like I’m getting more bang for my buck, I’ve also found it fascinating that a director (or in most cases; directors) would box themselves into such a short time frame in which to tell their tales, many would assume this would be easier but  those who write creatively will tell you that curbing the flow can often be more difficult then telling the story to begin with. It takes skill to cram everything you want to convey into such a small running time, and then to create the wraparound and make (usually) unconnected stories work together..To say this least it’s an impressive and fascinating process.


 

TerrorTalesThe first film I’ll be discussing today(which is the first feature length release from Screaming Like Banshees) showed up (to my delight) not on a DVD or a Bluray but a hard case VHS. That film was TerrorTales. I just want to take a moment, before we get into the film, to discuss the VHS itself. The casing (as I said) comes in the form of a nice sturdy white hard case. The cover art is obviously handmade on a home printer, which I personally feel helped add to the SOV feel of the whole thing. As a kid growing up I saw quite a few films in the local Mom and Pop video stores that had cover art that was likewise very homemade looking. It also gives the tape a very personal feel, when you hold it in your hand you know that the filmmakers themselves put each tape together themselves. This made me feel closer to the film maker..if that makes sense to you.
After the film are several commercials for a number of the shorts. I was hoping to see trailers for future projects from Screaming Like Banshees but this was still a nice touch.

There’s no real wraparound story for Terrortales so a synopsis would be a difficult thing to come up with, other then to simply tell you that it’s a almost exactly on point homage to SOV horror anthologies of the 80’s and early 90’s. It showcases tales that range from sneaky serial killers, to killer fog, to a man who’s best friend is a corpse to a time traveling, undead maniac, this one literally has a little bit of everything.

The acting here is on key with what you’d expect from 80’s fair, although more good then bad. It’s certainly of the amateur variety but if it wasn’t it wouldn’t work and I really enjoyed the body language of most characters in the stories, which was exaggerated to the point of being garish and cartoony.

TerrorTales1The way the stories were told, just showcasing almost random scenes rather then a set in stone storyline or any real logic was a a touch that shows these guys knew what they were doing as well,as this was often the case with 80’s anthologies, as did having an actor appear in every single short, doing nothing the change the actor’s appearance, in fact in some instances not changing his shirt. Those who don’t know the movies it’s mirrioring might not catch on to this and will probably complain..But it’s a safe bet that those reviewers will no longer have VCRs to begin with so it works out.

The look of this film was excellent, it had the gritty look of the shot on Hi-8 era, even having the liney trails during scenes of quick movement us of the VHS era experienced with alot of DIY movies, I highly reccomend watching this one an analog TV to complete the effect, I’m not sure it would work as well on a HD TV, luckily I keep at least one analog TV on hand for my VHS experience.

There was only two small things that threw this one off a bit. The first one most people will call me picky for pointing out (which is fair, I am) there was a couple of scenes that pixilated a bit, reminding me that this was a recent film. The other complaint is likewise one that I’ll get called a purist (how is this an insult?) for and that was that one character says “this is 2013) to me this was a HUUUUUGE no no. When trying to capture the feel of an era, (which, otherwise, this one did great doing even down to the clothes) YOU NEVER NEVER NEVER remind the audience blatently that we’re looking at a recent release…

I give this film 1 middle finger a quarter of the way extended. It has a few issues but overall I still loved it and felt it was excellently executed, I’m proud to have it in my collection and considering the extremely low price there’s no reason not to check it out..Get it on VHS though and make sure you watch it on an analog TV the way it was intended to be viewed. I have a feeling this is far from the last release we’ll see from Screaming Like Banshees and I can’t wait to see what they have in store for us next.


 

If you read the first Anthology Of Anthologies review I did you’ll remember Amongst the lineup was a little ditty of delightfully bad idiocy called Treasure Chest Of Horrors, after speaking with the wonderfully down to Earth  Doug Waugh  and Shawn C. Phillips I got my hands on the first film of the soon to be trilogy. Unfortunately this title is carried by World Wide Media (which is just Chemical Burn hiding behind another name) a label that this film is most defiantly too good to be on (thankfully the second film was carried by the much better label Wild Eye Releasing who I believe will also be carrying the 3rd installment) Don’t let the label fool you though, this one is great.

TREASURE-CHEST-OF-HORRORSTREASURE CHEST OF HORRORS joins modern day pirate Percival just as he completes his quest to discover his grandfather’s buried treasure. What is inside the chest? Is it gold? Is it jewls and diamonds? NO IT’S SOMETHING MUCH BETTER! Inside the chest Percival finds four VHS tapes, each containing a never before seen short film, and unlike most pirates Percival isn’t greedy, he’s going to share them with us!

I really enjoyed this one, as with the second installment all of the shorts were very shlucky but the feel was very different here, most seemed to be quite earnest attempts and not just jokes which added to the effect greatly. I’m a sucker for earnest films made purely for the love it and that’s exactly what we get with this anthology. The stories also have an air of..innocence. It really seemed like I was watching films made by kids, not just because of the hysterically bad special effects (my favorite being the spegetti and sauce guts in Resident Emo) but because of the level of creativity involved.

The cinematography was VHS-like and not exactly expertly done, but was another film that showcased quite a few angles and shots that seasoned cinematographers would never do and made for some really interesting looking moments. I also want to clarify that while the camerawork was amateurish it was defiantly very far from bad, quite the contrary really certain shots, particularly the POV wide angle shots used in Rotten Classmates, reminded me alot of Sam Raimi’s camerawork in the first EVIL DEAD film.

The stories here were silly and out there but also creative and fun, my favorite being M.Kelly and Shawn c. Phillip’s hilarious short Vampire’s Lust which tells the story of a 30 year old loser who gets bit by a vampire and slowly becomes one himself. I particularly found it amusing that despite the title there is nothing whatsoever erotic about the short, which came across as a sillier version of Fright Night with a touch of 80’s buddy flick. I’d really love to see this one extended to feature length.

The wraparound segments with Percival the pirate, with his dollar store props (the treasure chest was a military footlocker! lol) made this one go even beyond shows like Chiller all the way to local Public Access  territory, It really brought me back to my childhood watching creepy 30 year olds in cheesy costumes with cheesier names announce movies made by people in their backyards for 2 dollars on a cheap camcorder. I loved those crappy movies and for the same reasons I fell in love with this one!

I give this film no middle fingers up, It’s cheesy, it’s cheap and it’s got more heart then a 50 gallon drum full of earthworms!



The last film I want to talk about here is one that I waited for awhile to see, The first film from now widely celebrated sleaze and cheese director James Balsamo; HACKJOB! I’ve been told such varying things about this one, some say it’s complete horseshit, poorly done drivel while others celebrate it as an instant cult classic, brilliant, on point and charming either way, I’m game after seeing I SPILL YOUR GUTS awhile back (which I’ll be revisiting and reviewing soon) I’m down for any James Balsam flick.

Hack-JobHACK JOB begins with failing indie directors James Argento and Mike Fulci (you know you’re off to a good start when even the characters’ names wink at the camera hahaha) brutally attack and murder a pretentious “art film” director. Satan witnesses the attack and, pleased with what he saw, gives the two bumbling buddies a script to  launch their careers, a script featuring plotting nazis, rampaging mummies, Evil parasitic aliens crashing a battle of the bands and a serial killer possessed by a rather surprising entity who favors killing televangelists. Can the two use the script to make the greatest low budget indie anthology of all time!!??..NOPE but it sure does have alot of laughs, tits, and one of the best heavy metal soundtracks ever!

Goofy, hyperactive and knowingly bad, HACK JOB is TALES FROM THE CRYPT if it had been written by Robert Crumb and directed by Roger Corman! This is the anthology that Troma’s TALES FROM THE CRAPPER Should have been!

Each of the stories involved are great, each paying homage to different eras of film making but other then doing so separately and dedicating each segment to a different era they mashed several together in each, creating some really memorable, awesomely strange stuff, my favorite being the mummy story which seamlessly blended a 50’s style plot with elements of 70’s naziploitation, and camerawork that looked more early 80’s SOV (even showcasing some of the analog lines I spoke about earlier) We also see the blend of early 50’s style alien invasion film, greaser film and more 80’s or 90’s band competition film in one segment..This is one of those films that I could spend hours talking about and only cover the various influences that I saw in it..but unfortunately I don’t have the time or space to do so in this article. We’ll just say that James is obviously a huge cinephile with a love for all eras and genres and his ability to blend these eras together and make them work is quite the talent.

The wraparound story was just as entertaining as the segments and probably would have worked as it’s own film. It kind of had an It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia feel to it, only more gritty and playfully obscene.

The cinematography varies greatly from short to short, but all of it was excellently handled, this is defiantly a film where the camera is a character in and of itself and cinematography was carefully thought out and handled to perfectly match up with the flavor of the story being captured…with that said there was a really unfortunate tendency for pixilation, (sometimes severe pixilation) This was really too bad because, as I said other then that the cinematography here was beautifully done.

The film certainly does deliver on the promise of the theme song (yes it has a theme song) which tells us there’s plenty of tits and gore. There’s more scenes with boobs in the first five minutes of this film then in the average softcore on cinemax, so if you’re looking for “tasteful” family fun entertainment I’d recommend skipping this one, but if you’re a guy who likes a little T&A with his B&G then this one is a real winner. The gore on display here is of the humorous, cartoony variety, too over the top to be taken seriously but done well  anyway and all practical effects from what I could tell which was a relief.

The soundtrack here was fucking epic! featuring great metal music from bands like The Koffin Kats, Ghoul, Calabrese, The Creepshow. F.K.U., Death By Stereo, Blood Sucking Zombies from Outerspace, and even an appearance by the Duke of Dickatude himself ORDERUS URUNGUS (although Oderous plays himself as a character in the film, there’s no music from Gwar in the film) This is all real metal, not the mindless growling bullshit that passes for it today. This was one of those cases where I’d gladly buy the soundtrack.

I wish I could say that the sound quality was great on this one..but sadly this is where the film has it’s biggest falling point. The sound varies greatly with characters going from barely being audible to sounding like they were shouting at the top of their lungs. The music was steady and sounded great but the spoken dialog bounced up and down constantly and i had to keep remote firmly in hand the entire time adjusting it every four or five minutes. The sync in the whole second half of the film is completely off but I assumed it was done purposely to poke fun at bad syncs in grind house films and a quick talk with James Balsamo confirmed this

I give this film one middle finger up..I really hate to give it that, It truly is a great film and well worth your time..but the sound is so off that i really had to take away from my rating for it..Let’s just hope it gets a rerelease some day with the sound fixed, it really deserves it.

AN-ANTHOLOGY-OF-ANTHOLOGIES...AND-A-COMIC 

As Halloween draws closer and closer by the minute people are stocking up on horror films. Plenty pursue the accepted classics like the Halloween, Friday the 13th and Nightmare on Elm Street series, but for those of us that watch horror every day of the year to begin with Halloween is the time for one sub genre of horror in general, The only one that truly captures the spirit of Halloween…ANTHOLOGIES! Anthologies, I’ve said this before but i need to say it again, Anthologies have a very unique ability to bring us back to the time of Halloween’s past, sitting around a campfire or even more likely a dollar store bought novelty skull flashlight under a blanket, doing your damnedest to scare the crap out of your friends and pretend not to be scared. There’s something about a bare bones, straight to the point short story that gets deeper into pour bones and eats at us more then a longer more descriptive one can.

Where cinematic anthologies are concerned we often get more shluck then shock, more fun then fright, but who the hell cares? The fun lies not in how a story effects us but THAT it effects us.

Today I have three great films to discuss with you. Two are some of the best of the worst and the last is just plain one of the best.


 

TREASURE CHEST OF HORRORS 2TREASURE CHEST OF HORRORS  introduces us to Horror Host Mona Screamalot and her bizzare family who invite us to enjoy a night of viewing their rarest collection of bottom of the barrel “horror” Which showcases everything from a “giant baby” to an antagonistic talking gum infection, to a group of preteen oil hunters being attacked by a likewise preteen penis eating, ball stabbing serial killer! If NIGHT THIRST is too classy of an anthology for you and you felt V/H/S would have been better with less gore and a 400 pound man in whitey tighties pretending to be a baby then this one is for you!

Let me just say, this film isn’t for everyone and that much should be extremely apparent by the title and boxart alone. The reviewers who have seen this and shit on it for being “stupid” or “terrible” miss the point completely, It’s meant to be a homage  both to crap cinema anthologies like  the aforementioned Night Thirst, Deadtime Stories, and the tales from the Grave series and to midnight movie showcase shows like Elvira Mistress of the Deep and as a big fan of both of those things I fuckin loved this flick!

 Shawn C. Phillips (better known as Coolduder) the loveable robust Youtube movie reviewer turned actor and director appears in and directs the majority of the shorts in this anthology and as always his silly over the top acting and unique appearance really added to this thing and made it work. His shorts (The Prom, Caged Girl, Trendish, and Babycakes {which he acted in as the “baby” and was directed by his longtime friend Doug Waugh}) Didn’t just show there seams, they shoved them in your face and laughed with you. I mean, there’s a scene in The Prom where a rubber knife being washed in a sink is deliberately pressed into the sink and allowed to clearly bend, stabbings in all the films fall short not just by centimeters but by a good foot, we see Shawn contemplating literally fucking his DVD collection (In Trendish), in briefs beating people to death with a plastic rattle and acting like a crazed infant (in Babycakes) and in full drag playing a completely straight faced “pretty young girl” (in Caged Girl) This is a guy who clearly has a real passion for trash cinema and has no problem whatsoever making an ass of himself for the amusement of others. He’s what you’d get if you made a clone using genetics from Ed Wood, Christ Farley and Jerry Lewis.

All of the shorts here had something to offer in the shock and shluck department unfortunately we don’t have the time or space here to talk about each and every one of them in depth but I defiantly have to mention my personal favorite here:
BLOODY HELL,
Bloody Hell showcases what appears to be a bunch of preteens going to a campsite to…find oil…with 2 pipes…Unfortunately when they decide to spend the night and do their oil hunting in the morning they are attacked by a likewise pretten serial killer who bludgeons, stabs and decapitates the group.

The homemade look and downright ridiculous acting and writing of this one were hysterical and really brought to mind Weasels Rip My Flesh and They Don’t Cut The Grass Anymore. The gore wasn’t bad and had a great 80’s SOV feel to it…but i have to say with not one but two penis eating scenes and a brutal ball stabbing scene all in a short that’s less then 10 minutes long…These kids might need therapy..and bad.

I loved this entire anthology, i give it no middle fingers up, If you like trash cinema and anthologies then this is a must have. I haven’t seen the first or third installment in this series but after seeing this one, I defiantly want to.


 

SLAUGHTER TALESThe next film I’m going to talk about is one I’ve wanted to review for a long time, Johnny Dickie’s SLAUGHTER TALES. For those of you who don’t know Johnny, He’s done Talks on VHS and B level horror films on His Youtube channel for at least years now. This kid knew just as much (if not more) about VHS collecting and obscure straight to video horror films as collectors more then three times his age and possess a fierce dedication and love for them that borders on obsession. For those of us who have kept track of his channel we knew it was only a matter of time before he picked up a camera and made a film of his own, and in 2012 at the ripe age of 15 he did just that. The result was SLAUGHTER TALES

SLAUGHTER TALES follows a morally poor teenager who shoplifts a VHS from a garage sale. After bring the tape home a ghostly apparition appears to him and warns him that the tape is cursed and that he shouldn’t watch it. Dismissing the apparition as an hallucination He watches the tape anyway, falling asleep and suffering from nightmares several times during it’s running time, the Teen soon learns that some movies aren’t just bad..some are downright murderous!

I’ve read countless reviews for this film and every single one of them without fail has used the same approach, They praise Dickie for making a film and getting distibution for it at such a young age and then they nicely dismiss the film as crap for the same reason..Well allow me to be the first to tell those reviewers THAT THEY ARE FUCKING MORONS!

Firstly, while Dickie should defiantly be admired for accomplishing what he did at a young age, He’s far from the first teenager to do it, Remember me mentioning Weasel’s Rip My Flesh earlier? Nathan Schiff was 16 when he made that film in 1979, and I’m sure a small amount of research would show dozens more who did similar things. Not only that but to spend the majority of a review discussing the filmmaker’s age is, to be frank, condescending. If Slaughter Tales had been made when Johnny was 21 I’d feel the same way about it, and I went into this film fully ready to shit all over it if I felt it deserved it..But it doesn’t, not at all!

Utilizing hallmarks of the genre like using the same actor over and over for multiple roles (Dickie plays 99% of the characters himself with little or no change to his appearance) goofy homemade effects and props, characters uttering explaining things that should be obvious to the audience through lines that are spoken for no apparent reason (My favorite was when an obvious young teen in a hardhat playing a “contractor” is asked what he’s been up to and replies “I’ve been putting things together..because I’m a contractor”) and beyond over the top, almost manic acting. 

Those who dismiss these elements as merely being the imagination of a 15 year old with no budget are very misinformed. These are very thought out, very meticulous elements honed from years of watching and obsessing over films like Violent Shit (a film which Dickie Homages by having the main killer in the film wear a mask that’s an almost exact replica of the mask worn by Karl The Butcher Shitter), Wood chipper Massacre,  Orgroff The Mad Mutilator, Cannibal Camp out and countless other bottom of the barrel, so bad they’re good films. Not to be a prick but if you arn’t a fan of those types of films you have no right reviewing a film like Slaughter Tales.

Everything from the use of ceiling lights and flashlights for lighting, to the homemade paper mache’ and cheesy store bought  props to the camera angles which showcases a ton of the from the floor and above the head shots seen almost exclusively in no budget DYS straight to video movies, this film was completely dead on, Johnny even went as far as to put a black border around the screen, giving it that small screen look that was common to films shot on super 8 films. I have yet to see a homage to the straight to video crapfest era that did as well as this one, and believe it or not there is quite a few out there, In fact Horror veteran  Scarlet Fry has a film out now called Death By VHS which is pretty much the same concept as Slaughter Tales with a bigger budget and it’s not even a one hundredth as good as this film.

Once Again due to the length this enormous review is going to be as is, I can’t get into discussing all of the shorts in-depth but I will say my favorite was one my son and I have affectionately named “Bubble Gum Face Boy” Where Johnny gets possessed by a demon from reading out of a book he finds in the basement while looking for “skin mags” (ok so this element may indeed be the imagination of a 15 czgup1chyear old..But my argument stands) and the resulting possession makes Johnny look like..well..Johnny with bubblegum on his face,the effect was downright hysterical as was the cartoonish carnage he wreaks upon his victims after becoming Bubblegum Face Boy.

I only had two issues with this one. Firstly, there was a very unfortunate problem with the video quality that caused some pixilation throughout the entire film. It wasn’t enough to make anything unrecognizable which is a good thing but it was certainty enough to distract a bit from the movie and it took some away from the nostalgic mid 80s- early 90’s feel that Johnny worked so hard to create. The only other issue I had was Johnny non-stop bitching about the movie sucking, We got the joke the first time, the movie sucks, Telling the audience over and over again only makes us feel like you think we’re stupid and repetition gets annoying.

Overall I give this film one middle finger a quarter of the way extended, It had a few issues but nonetheless is a wonderful homage to SOV horror that all fans of the sub genre should check out and If Johnny has more of this madness in him with his upcoming feature CITY OF THE DREAM DEMONS, His films will continue to find a home on my shelf.

The Last film I’ll be talking about here is similar to the others in that it’s Goofy, Silly and nostalgic  (this one more-so of the late 60’s to early 80’s) but quite different in it’s approach, choosing to aim for high quality rather then celebrate shittiness (not that either one of those things are better then the other, both have their place).


 

ANTHOLOGY: Drive-In Horror show

ANTHOLOGY: Drive-In Horror Show

DRIVE IN HORROR SHOW showcases several short stories as they are shown by a ghostly ghoul and his ragtag group, (made up of a cybertronic Troll assistant, A zombie ticket both opperator, and a teenage axe victim confection stand perpetrator) At a dilapidated Drive In Theater after the third apocalypse.

The wraparound segment involving The Ghoul known simply as “the Projectionist” really brought me back to my childhood, with the campy approach and silly out there character reminding me alot of the old late night horror movie shows, like Chillers but more accurately I’d say this whole affair had the feel of my personal favorite horror short story show..ARE YOU AFRAID OF THE DARK.
As a kid who was born in 86′ and grew up in the late 80’s and early 90’s ARE YOU AFRAID OF THE DARK was a special kind of show. It was darker then anything else i saw for children but still had enough camp to make it fun, This film had that same feel, Goofy enough to be fun, but still close to home enough and eerie enough to be unsettling. I’d say it’s ARE YOU AFRAID OF THE DARK for adults with a touch of Twilight Zone Weirdness and one hell of a gore upgrade!

Everything about this film was top notch, from the acting to the lighting and Writer/director Micheal Neel and Writer Greg Ansin did a spectacular job making it so no two shorts were alike, In fact the even the style of each is short is completely different.

I found something to enjoy in every segment of this film but I have to say my two favorites were
THE CLOSET, which was about a lonely and neglected little boy and his asshole family. One night after being crapped on by everyone in his household a giant monster with glowing eyes shows him a vision of how better off his life would be without his sister, convincing him to bring her to be eaten, it then uses the same tactic for every other member of his family. But the boy soon learns that while his family were pricks, life without them is going to be harder then he thought and that making deals with monsters can come back to bite you on the ass. This little diddy had a great practical effect puppet monster that combined with the little boy’s symbiotic relationship with the monster gave it the feel of being a mixture between cult Classics THE ABOMINATION and THE PIT.  But the way it was shot reminded me alot of the shorts from the little known classic anthology film THE WILLIES which had a very..Hallucinatory quality to it as this one did too. We’re never quite sute until the end if the monster is a literal being or just a metaphor for the boy’s growing rage at an unfair life and a way for him to cope with having murdered his family himself.

The other short i really enjoyed here was Fall Apart, which showcases the unfair ill fate of a generous doctor who goes out of his way to help his paitents, often on his own time and for free. When he attempts to help an elderly man with strange fast growing sores this act of kindness proves to come with a horrible price, that reminds us that the path to hell is often paved with good intentions.

A wonderfully revolting wink at body horror films like The Incredible Melting Man and Body Melt
This short showcased, by far, the best special effects I have ever seen in an indie film, they were literally cringe worthy enough that I had to look away during one scene, considering the stuff I have seen and had no problem with, that’s one hell of an accomplishment on the part of the filmmakers. 
This one had more of a Tales from the Darkside approach then the others with it’s dark, bleak message and in your face delivery. It left me feeling as if i had lost a friend when it ended and considering the very short length of the segment I’d say that says a hell of alot for the actor playing the doctor, who really managed to convey kindness with every move of his body.

I give this film Two Middle Fingers Chopped off and sanded to the bone, I’ve seen many anthologies and I must say that this is one of my favorites by a long shot, second only to the first 2 creep show films.

BUT WAIT THERE’S MORE!!!

drive-in-horror-show-comicAs If The Drive In Horrorshow wasn’t kickass enough the creators with the help of illustrator Jerem Morrow and Colorist Shi Blank turned the concept into a kick ass comic book!

Rather then take the lazy route and simply adapt one of the stories from the film into a comic an all new story was used.
The story focuses around a desperate man who has an antique store hold onto a priceless family heirloom in exchange for a quick one thousand dollars with the stipulation that he would either have double their money back for them the following day or they could keep it. But greed gets the better of the shop keeper and the consequences for his abuse of trust are catastrophic!

With a story style that is reminiscent of the old EC Horror comic classic and beautifully rendered artwork that appears to be hand painted rather then simply drawn and colored THE DRIVE IN HORROR SHOW comic issue #1 surpasses a mere comic book and falls into the category of art. The artwork here is something I haven’t seen the likes of since the old Green Hornet comics and in all reality surpasses even those with flying colors.

I give this comic two middle fingers chopped off and sanded to the bone. if you are a fan of horror comics or even just excellent artwork, you really need to give this one your attention. I am anxiously awaiting the next issue and really hope this series continues for many years.