Remember a decade ago when Netflix would send you a DVD, you would watch it, then mail it back, then be sent another one, and so on? Imagine all that work if you weren’t even guaranteed a great viewing experience every time, and could end up sitting through a bad b-movie and have to wait for snail mail to run its course before you could cleanse your palate with another movie.
Now think of the impact all that hassle could have on a blogger’s opinion when it came time to write about a movie. I didn’t have any of that hassle when I streamed this trio from that era – a horror anthology, a vampire comedy, and a zombie flick. So did that give them an advantage?
FRIGHT CLUB (2006)
An African-American guy, a Latina girl, and an Asian guy walk into an art gallery….
No, it’s not the setup for a joke. It’s the wraparound of indie anthology film Fright Club. The three friends are looking to join a rumored “fright club,” and to do so, they are required to tell the eldest member of the group – a hooded figure in the basement of the building – a scary story.
Each story is focused on a particular racial group living in the urban jungle, which is a cool, contemporary approach to a horror anthology. Of course, it could also be argued that the tales totally play up to racial stereotypes as well.
Despite coming out in 2006, Fright Club doesn’t have the sleek, polished, CGI feel of mainstream horror of that era. This has a low budget throwback feel that will probably appeal more to those who grew up on direct-to-VHS horror of the 80s and 90s. Here’s the breakdown of the stories:
“Little Red Riding in the Hood” – The Latina girl’s story begins with a trippy dream sequence loaded with sex, boobs, and horror visuals. Then, a young woman is off to visit her sick grandmother. She has run-ins with her bad boy ex, an FBI agent, and a psychic before finally getting to her grandmother’s house, which is really the only good part of this segment. The werewolf doesn’t look much like a werewolf. It’s more just a cheesy monster face, but in a fun, hokey, 80s scary way.
“The Boy Who Cried Vamp” – The African-American guy’s story reminds me of the classic 80s flick Vamp. It begins with a long strip club montage. A young man hangs out there because he’s trying to make connections to get a record deal…and because he’s mesmerized by one of the women. The vampiric stuff is pretty basic.
“Spare Parts” – The Asian guy’s story focuses on two brothers. One is a successful detective about to get promoted, the other a failing university scientist who loses his funding because of his questionable experiments in reanimation. But their two careers collide in a most horrific way when one brother’s failure suddenly becomes the other’s macabre success.
All three stories are a bit too long and uneventful before getting to the good stuff, and while the first two stories have a more classic 80s vibe with traditional werewolf/themes, the final story is definitely the most disturbing and contemporary in terms of plot. And finally, the conclusion of the wraparound is pretty much just what you expect, in a good old campy, gothic horror exclamation point way.
NETHERBEAST INCORPORATED (2007)
A comedy about a company at which all the employees are vampires, but suddenly, mere mortals begin infiltrating the office space. The cast includes the likes of Darrell Hammond of SNL, Steve Burns of Blue’s Clues, Judd Nelson of The Breakfast Club, Dave Foley of The Kids in The Hall, Jason Mewes of Jay & Silent Bob, Amy Davidson of 8 Simple Rules, and Robert Wagner of who pushed Natalie Wood off a boat?
I so expected this one to be really good, but it’s not very funny at all. For such a great ensemble, the script gives them little to bounce off each other.
Even the vampire plot is weak, and there’s way too much narrative via the Blue’s Clues guy, who gives us tons of history on this clan of vampires—and how they’re pretty much nothing like the vampires of folklore.
Fact is, the vampires are scared the humans are going to expose their secret. But when someone begins killing off the humans, the vampires play detective to figure out who it is.
Blue’s Clues guy has begun dating one of the mortal girls, so there’s a little romance thrown in with what plays out like a murder mystery. Aside from being short on laughs, it’s disappointingly slow-paced. For such a clever concept with such a great cast, this could have been a total winner.
I assume this was made for TV…perhaps SyFy? I never saw it back then so I’m not sure. The premise is basically The Running Man on an island with zombies. It’s a reality show on which criminals compete to get to the other side of the island alive. Winner walks free.
After a few contestants immediately off each other, the race begins. Within minutes, super fast zombies attack! This movie is pretty much total crap. It takes place completely in the daylight (they sleep safely overnight). It’s all fast shaky cam and choppy editing, so you rarely get close-ups of the zombies. Probably because they appear to be mostly in just basic green face paint.
When the contestants aren’t hiding out (which they do a lot of), the action scenes are extremely repetitive. Their battles with the zombies are also plagued by freeze-frames highlighted with onscreen kill points for the “television audience,” in video game fashion. Basically, this film should have just been marketed as House of the Dead 3.
There’s no gut munching or gore, but there is a sequence in the final act that I thought was okay.
The remaining survivors have to make their way through a bunker, and it brought to mind the original Day of the Dead. Plus, the lone survivor’s getaway scene is “delicious.”
Finally, the hunk of the group is actually recognizable as the guy who always played the scary baddie on segments of Scare Tactics.