These days there are so many pseudo anthologies simply comprised of a bunch of short films snagged off the Internet that you never know what you’re in for when you find one on a streaming service. Well, I got lucky with this batch, several consisting of longer stories, so let’s get into them.
BEYOND EVIL (aka: Still) (2010)
This anthology from Thailand has four stories of substantial length. Not only are they all worth a watch, but there are cute guys in all of them! The stories stem from an opening New Year’s Eve party segment, in which there’s a notable gay “situation” in the men’s restroom.
Here’s the breakdown:
1st story – This is somewhat of a supernatural romance. A young man is haunted by memories, guilt, and the ghost of his girlfriend, who perished in a fire at a dance club. While the ghost scenes are pretty standard to me, the phenomenal flashback to the horror of the club burning down leaves a lasting impression.
2nd story – Eerie and atmospheric, this is nonetheless a rather generic story about a guy in prison who is haunted by the ghost of another inmate.
3rd story – Managing to elevate itself above the usual creepy ghost girl plot, this one takes place in an apartment building. After a girl is murdered and her body is dumped in the water tank on the roof, the tenants begin to find…stuff in their water. This story is so good I could puke.
4th story – The horror comedy is saved for last. Two young guys pick up a prostitute and unknowingly bring her to a haunted hotel, which leads to gay stuff that pokes fun at Asian crawling girl horror, plenty of laughs, and awesome twists.
The four stories and wraparound in Creepers vary in quality in terms of production, but I enjoyed this anthology for both its lower and higher end segments. Stories range from old school gothic to contemporary and quirky.
The wraparound concerns a taxman being told tales when he pays a visit to a horror lover on a dark, stormy night.
1st story – This is a period piece about a man who remarries a year after his wife dies. His new bride is soon being terrorized by visions of his dead wife. While the ghostly appearances aren’t as scary as I might like, the final zinger is dastardly!
2nd story – The mere weirdness of this tale makes it pretty uncomfortable to watch. A guy with emotional problems is still living with his parents, who bring a troubled, female childhood friend of his into the home to live with them. As they rekindle their friendship, things get trippy in a sexual and bloody way. The final frame would have ruined me had I seen this when I was a young horror fan.
3rd story – A low budget doesn’t get in the way of this being a funny little skit, especially if you’re a writer. A man who has just finished what he believes to be his masterpiece is horrified when his computer dies immediately after. A PC repairman offers to save his computer…by resurrecting the ghost that took it to computer heaven.
4th story – This final tale is perhaps my favorite because it hits the horror mark perfectly. A guy rents a room in a big old house with a history of witchcraft, magic, and ventriloquism. Then he begins to hear the landlord talking to what sounds like a little child at night…. EEK! I loved the final minutes of this one.
And of course there’s the wraparound, which has its own little campy horror conclusion as well.
MINUTES PAST MIDNIGHT (2016)
For a film that only runs 98 minutes long, Minutes Past Midnight includes quite an assortment of stories of varying tone and style. Some just go for the good old-fashioned horror, while others are a bit more complex. In total, there are nine tales, with no wraparound:
1 – Short and to the point, this one is a fun and gory twist on the cannibals in the woods plot.
2 – This was a dark one about a messed up kid and the parents trying to protect him, but I can’t say I totally understood it.
3 – A black comedy about a serial killer that wants to fight his urges to kill so he’ll finally be able to date the girl of his dreams.
4 – A gothic period piece that’s either animatronic or CGI animation. The “human” in it looks almost as creepy as the ghoulish creatures he encounters! But seriously, it’s visually stunning and delivers great old school atmosphere.
5 – The gross out comic tale. A dude suffers from “roid” rage…because his itching asshole has teeth!
Dare I say shit gets gory and trashy? The story eventually just segues into a grindhouse trailer for a full-length film version!
6 – Now this is a good old Tales from the Darkside/Tales from the Crypt story. A struggling musician is promised success if he follows the macabre orders depicted in etchings on his apartment floor….
7 – This is a quick nasty about a kid whose favorite cartoon character becomes a reality after his bitchy babysitter sends him to bed.
8 – Like a Stephen King story of childhood horrors coming back to haunt adults, two men make the mistake of returning to an abandoned funhouse they tried to break into as kids, which ended in tragedy.
9 – Finishing strong, this simple, gory comedy has a white trash bear in his undies fighting a Chupacabra in his trailer.
VOLUMES OF BLOOD: HORROR STORIES (2016)
After much confusion, I think I’ve concluded that this film is indeed a companion to the Volumes of Blood anthology I posted about here. I think I even heard a reference to the library from that film in this movie at one point, but I can’t be sure because there were volumes of confusion to contend with.
I believe this film, which runs a soul-killing 2 hours long, is attempting to somehow tie in various stories at different times throughout its running time, but I’m warning you, it is virtually impossible to make sense of what is happening as tales begin to blend together and timelines jump around randomly.
For instance, if you read the description of the film, it suggests that the wraparound has a couple looking at a house with their real estate agent and discovering different tales of terror throughout the house. That didn’t translate at all in the movie since the house-hunters don’t appear until 30 minutes into the film. Plus, it doesn’t seem like they are “experiencing” the stories in any way (say the way John Ritter is telling the house-hunting couple stories in Terror Tract).
What seems to be a more cohesive thread connecting the stories is that a good number of them take place on a holiday or occasion—Christmas, Halloween, Thanksgiving, Father’s Day, a birthday, etc. Of course, we already have an anthology film titled Holidays…
There are plenty of stories here, some quirky and funny, others gory, and others just downright confusing. Personally, I was mostly feeling the Christmas and Halloween segments because they were loaded with holiday spirit and were both vicious and brutal.
Meanwhile, the real estate agent is a delicious, towering, burly bear. Plus, while it’s hard to make sense of what appears to be an attempt to bring everything full circle and tie it all together, the film ends strong in the sense that it tosses in loads of kills. In fact, the gore effects and the numerous killers in the film are definitely its strengths.
DEADTIME TALES (2018)
Deadtime Tales is somewhat of an oddity in that it runs nearly 2 hours long, has no wraparound, only has 3 stories, and the final one is a drastically edited down and retitled version of the 2003 full-length Halloween haunted attraction slasher Dark Walker! I won’t cover the short edit in this anthology since I blogged about the movie here. However, I must say, I think this is actually a really smart way to salvage some older indie films that got overlooked when they were originally released—especially the ones that needed to be seriously edited down in the first place (I’ve written about plenty of those). Just cut out all the crap, get to the good parts while keeping a coherent story, and slap a trio of them together as an anthology.
Of course, this made me wonder if the other two stories here are also shortened versions of full-length films. While Deadtime Tales is on Amazon Prime, it is not listed on imdb, meaning not even director Dark Walker Danny Draven gets credit for it. However, a movie called Evil Never Sleeps just showed up on Prime, directed by Draven. And after some searching, I discovered it’s actually his 2002 film Deathbed renamed…which was shortened into another story in this collection. Still haven’t figured out what movie the third story might be…but it appears to also be included in a Full Moon anthology called Tales from The Grave, another collection comprised of full-length films that have been edited into shorts.
Since I can quickly say Dark Walker is a goodie as far as Halloween haunted attraction slashers go, let’s get on to the other two stories. To me, they both feel like direct-to-video horror from the late 80s—kind of cheesy, kind of gory, kind of sexy, loads of stupid fun.
1st story – This is the edited version of the film Deathbed. When a couple moves into a new apartment, the wife refurbishes an old bed she finds then begins having nightmares of some freaky dude assaulting a woman.
He quickly becomes more than just part of a dream. For such a simple, old school sleep stalker type story, things get wickedly gory, and the killer is damn creepy. And…the husband’s a hottie.
2nd story – This one reminds me of the days when Full Moon films were creepy and atmospheric but still had that low budget charm. Won’t be surprising if this is also a Draven film, or at least produced by him, because he is part of the Full Moon family.
Female contestants are locked up in an old mansion for a ghost hunting reality show. Shit gets super gory as victims are torn to shreds by a reaper-like specter.
I really like the cheesy 80s vibe of this one.