One of these anthologies is not like the other two! A double dose of cheesy 3-tale horror anthologies does a Dan good, but a sci-fi horror anthology makes me a bored boy.
3: ALL HALLOWS EVE (aka: Voices from the Grave) (2014)
Seems that after the cult success of horror anthology All Hallows’ Eve, there’s been an attempt to cash in on the concept. I’m not sure if All Hallows’ Eve 2 was an official sequel, but now, we have low budget indie 3: All Hallows Eve, the new name given to a movie originally titled Voices from the Grave when it was released a year before All Hallows’ Eve 2.
It could be argued that the “3” in the title refers to the fact that there are three stories, but since there is only one Halloween-themed story and the book the guy in the wraparound is reading is titled Voices from the Grave, it seems pretty obvious what’s going on here. But who cares? What matters is – are the stories worth it?
1st story – Several years after his younger brother dies in a car accident on Halloween night, a man is terrorized by an apparition and a Jack o’ lantern in his home on October 31st. This one starts rocky, but when it gets going, the atmosphere is great and really delivers the Halloween spirit. Like many Halloween horror movies these days, it’s actually capturing the feel of the kind of old skool Halloween that just doesn’t exist anymore.
2nd story – After finding a mysterious invitation in his car, a man attends a party at which guests are acting weird. He also keeps getting glimpses of a mysterious woman. Considering this one is based on a story by Gary Brandner, author of The Howling novel, I was kind of bummed that it’s my least favorite tale in the trio. It has a very low budget feel and is a bit slow right up until the surprise ending, which saves it somewhat.
3rd story – The final tale might be a bit cliché (think Stephen King’s Christine), but it’s highly effective and has a good 80s direct-to-video vibe. A young man buys a used car that begins killing the people in his life—because the previous owner is still at the wheel! Awesome.
Even the wraparound’s conclusion is fun, tying back to the 3 stories, which has become a common practice in anthologies these days. And the Halloween story definitely lands this on my page of holiday horror movies.
DEAD ON APPRAISAL (2014)
Anyone who has been around horror anthologies for a while will want to compare this one to Terror Tract or the more recent film The Perfect House because the wraparound concerns a real estate agent.
But Dead on Appraisal is so totally its own monster. Take it as a sign that the movie poster for Cemetery Man is heavily featured on a wall in the first story, because this is definitely an exploitative splatterfest rather than a “scary stories” anthology. It nails the late 80s/early 90s vibe, with over-the-top monsters, campy comedy, and a combination of bad computer effects and perfectly disgusting, practical gore effects drenched in neon color lights.
The basic premise is about a house a real estate agent can’t sell because horrific things have gone on there….
1st story – A house party turns into an ooey gooey mess when a science geek’s examination of some sort of “hive” releases a slimy, infectious monster. A gun nut steps in to save the day, bringing along the comic farce and a wacky monster.
2nd story – This one is oddly out of place in this anthology. It takes on a more serious tone, focusing on the mental state of a young military man just back from Iraq and suffering from PTSD. Along with gory flashbacks, he has hallucinations of some sort of devil/demon. There’s not much gore here until the final zinger ending, which also makes a statement about war.
3rd story –I’d say this virtually story-less tale has one goal – to serve up Dead Alive level insanity (and wetness) to a raucous heavy metal song. A rock band is playing poker when the leader of the band begins to realize all his bandmates are actually demented Muppets that need to be slaughtered.
This final story segues directly into the conclusion of the wraparound, so the craziness and cheesy monster effects extend straight through to the closing credits. If you’re a fan of independent midnight movies, Dead on Appraisal is one of the best I’ve seen in recent times.
NIGHT PEOPLE (2015)
Whoa! This Irish sci-fi/horror anthology is the furthest thing from an attention deficit suppressor. You know there’s an issue when one of the stories is about a sex therapist, but I still couldn’t stay locked on the TV screen.
It’s basically three intertwined stories – one of them being the wraparound – that are heavy on dialogue and philosophical discussions. There’s nothing scary here, but if you’re a sci-fi lover, maybe you’ll be able enthralled.
Two guys break into a house for some sort of insurance scam, then one of them offers up a story.
The tale involves guys messing with a futuristic alien device. I wish I could give you more details, but seriously, I couldn’t absorb. All I can say I say is one of the guys mentions Lovecraft (no wonder I lost interest fast). After the story ends, the guy it’s being told to in the wraparound is disappointed that it was so ambiguous. See? it wasn’t just me.
The second tale involves a sex therapist – I think a butch lesbian (no wonder I lost interest fast) – who starts attaching some parasitic device to clients’ bodies to suck their blood.
The third story/wraparound concludes with a more diabolical plan involving the two insurance scam guys. How everything ties together is beyond me because I couldn’t even follow anything untied.
There’s one reason I’m glad I watched this film. It includes songs by an awesome modern synthpop band called Electro Kill Machine.