Based on the four films I’m about to cover, things sure weren’t good for people living in apartment buildings in the first half of the 2000s. These two slashers and two anthologies – a majority of them super low budget – all revolve around the horrors tenants experience in an apartment building.
THE TENEMENT (2003)
This low budget indie horror anthology features a “wraparound” consisting of an old man and some art rock looking dude meeting out front of an apartment building.
They mention all the horrors that have gone on there, which we see in brief flashback that look creepier than anything that happens in the basic, “straight-to-video” quality stories that make up the film. Each story takes place in a different year, which has no relevance to anything. I’ll give you the breakdown, but there’s nothing worth seeing here that you haven’t seen done better in other films.
1st story (1980) – A very long opening scene of a woman being abducted by a cult, crucified, and forced to watch lesbians suck face turns out to be nothing more than a movie being watch by our horror obsessed main character. Sigh.
He is constantly being berated by a mother’s voice that comes from another room. I wish I could say this takes a Psycho turn, but the big twist later on is that his mother is actually in there. WTF? Anyway, he gives a horrible audition for a movie for his favorite director, then goes after the director with a shovel in a cemetery, where he sees a vision of some random chick telling him not to do it. But he does it. This one is tedious.
2nd story (1990) – A creepy as fuck mute girl who never stops dancing in her room is terrorized by a man when her parents go out. There’s a reason the girl is so creepy—I have no idea what it is, but it means things don’t turn out so good for her attacker. If this story had been polished and made more sense, it could be very Tales from the Crypt.
3rd story (1999) – This is my favorite tale because it has the strongest script. It also happens to be a horror comedy about a guy walking home from an AA meeting when he’s attacked by, um, an Alaskan sled dog. Suspend disbelief, because it’s supposed to be a werewolf.
The guy spends the rest of the story convinced he’s becoming a werewolf, and it’s actually comical thanks to both the script and his performance. He even goes out human hunting in the buff!
4th story (2000) – Some dude pretending to be a taxi driver abducts women, but finally meets his match. The twist isn’t enough to mask the amateurish execution of the tale.
TOE TAGS (2003)
This is one of those films that could have been an indie winner if it had a better budget, higher production value, and a slightly more polished script. The general plot is pretty damn tight.
People are being murdered in an apartment building, and each time a body is sent to the morgue, the toe tag disappears. A female detective and a beefy guido detective are on the case, their main suspect being a nasty old lady who seems to be present at the time of every murder.
Because the investigation making up the bulk of the plot feels amateurish, the blood and boobs are the highlight, as is this guy’s tight little bod.
Of course, that’s not saying much since a majority of the gore looks homebrewed. However, there is one kill sequence that really shows off the director’s potential. It’s not even the kill itself, but the reaction of the victim and the way it’s shot. It’s just a very raw moment that stood out for me.
On top of that, the conclusion throws us a great little series of twists. There is just one totally unnecessary gay slur – when the female detective asks the guido detective why he was talking to another guy, he says that “the faggot” was just trying to hook him up with some girl. You’d thing he’d choose a less derogatory term for a faggot he claims is offering to reinforce his heterosexuality for him.
UP FOR RENT (2006)
This anthology features three stories and uses the more common wraparound – a real estate agent showing apartments to prospective renters. Oddly enough, some of the stories mirror those in The Tenement.
1st story: This story drags on a little long and shows its low budget, but I liked the zinger ending. A woman who believes her man is cheating on her applies a lesson she learned from her father as a child, and it’s worthy of an episode of Tales from the Crypt.
2nd story: Not unlike the fourth story in The Tenement, this one is about a killer that may not be the only psycho in town.
Even though he fucks dead bodies, I have to say it…this dude has a hot bod.
3rd story: Just as the horror comedy was my favorite in The Tenement, it is in this anthology as well. And once again, the lead actor perfectly delivers the humor.
Our main man is not only adorable, funny, and proud to dance around with his butt crack exposed, he’s the last guy you’d expect to be a crazed killer!
While the tone is completely different, the premise of this final tale virtually duplicates that of the story that comes right before it. I understand this story ends the anthology strong, but I would have preferred if it had been in the center, not only to break up the serious tone of the other two stories, but so it wouldn’t be unfairly written off as a copycat of the story before it.
LETHAL EVICTION (2005)
I saved the one with the biggest budget for last. This fun little indie is a combination of 80s slasher and 90s thriller, and has a cast loaded with familiar faces.
The opening kill gets splat-tastic…after the landlord of a building is knocked out an attic window!
Next, Fresh Prince’s Uncle Phil and his daughter (Stacey Dash of Clueless), buy the place. And they have an eclectic bunch of tenants, including frat boys…
…a drag queen…
…Michael Learned (aka: Olivia Walton) as a racist/homophobe…
…and Jennifer Carpenter playing twin sisters—one squeaky clean, the other a druggy whore mess.
Oh…and Judd Nelson is lurking around the place looking to rent an apartment.
There are various fun kills, some hot boy bods, dream sequences, and plenty of suspicion put on both Judd Nelson and the evil Jennifer Carpenter twin.
Not overly gory or overly scary, and despite the predictable twist, the film is still a worthy time killer.
Stacey Dash scores the final girl role, and in a refreshing turn of events, the drag queen also makes it to the end!