Whether you’re LGBTQ, black, a college girl, or just some boring old regular person, no one escapes the horror of these anthology films!
GALLERY OF FEAR (2012)
Gallery of Fear comes from a circle of talent that often taps into late 1960s/early 1970s schlock and shock cinema and brings it into the modern indie horror realm. The wraparound stars scream queen Debbie Rochon as a bitchy art critic abandoned by her driver at a gallery in the middle of nowhere, where she discovers each painting has a story to tell…
“By Her Hand, She Draws You Down” – This is the sole short directed by Anthony G. Sumner (Psycho Street, III Slices of Life). The most like a Twilight Zone episode, this story is about a controlling man who won’t allow his wife to do her job as a portrait artist on the boardwalk. The story doesn’t seem to be going anywhere, but the twist is the payoff, especially since we get to see horror hunk Jerry Murdock in undies and a wife beater.
“Down The Drain” – Alan Rowe Kelly handles the directing on the rest of the film, and brings back Jerry Murdock as the star of this trippy creature feature. Murdock is so ridiculously – I usually say hot or sexy or fuckable or something like that here, but I’m going to be a little less complimentary and say ridiculously underutilized in the horror film industry. Alan Rowe seems to know like no one else how amazingly Jerry can morph into any type of character. Here he plays a totally over-the-top geek substitute teacher that has the entire world just piss all over him. These two lucky freaks get to do it literally…
But revenge is sweet when your anxiety manifests itself as a giant version of the green monster pencil topper you usually turn to for comfort.
Campy, weird, and featuring Jerry and scream queen Raine Brown clearly paying homage to a classic Hal Holbrook/Adrienne Barbeau scene in Creepshow, this throwback segment is my favorite in the bunch.
“ A Far Cry From Home” – This is classic fucked up backwoods terror with a fresh approach—LGBTQ characters take the “wrong turn.” Alan Rowe stars in this 45-minute segment, which captures the horrific style and atmosphere of disturbing, stomach turning 1970s films like The Texas Chainsaw Massacre: trippy camera angles and editing; eerie as hell music that messes with your mind; and heinous displays of gore and brutality.
While taking a detour into banjo land during a road trip, Alan Rowe’s boyfriend goes missing after they stop at a convenience store. Soon, psychotic hillbillies are chasing Alan Rowe through the woods. The butch one in blue is my dream man Jerry Murdock, who plays a real bastard this time around.
Doesn’t Jerry make a gorgeous sweaty backwoods pig fucker?
And isn’t my obsessive love for him kind of fucking creepy?
There’s none of Alan Rowe’s dark humor here. This nightmarish scenario taps into our deepest fears of what would happen to us if we were put at the mercy of the most twisted devils in the Bible Belt.
THE MIDNIGHT MATINEE (2017)
This feels like the modern streaming equivalent of “direct-to-video” horror, and it’s a fun and simple concept for a quick, short horror fix. Running only 42 minutes long, it essentially feels like five Internet shorts packaged as one streaming title, so the quality of each short varies.
1st story – Done found footage style, this is more like a tale with a horror punch line. It’s simply about a really cute guy who plans to propose to his lady when they go out on their boat for the day.
“YES I’LL MARRY YOU!”
Only the final frame tells us the horror that befell the couple.
2nd story – Highlighting what a hurtful experience online dating can be, this is about a dating site that makes getting rejected even more painful than usual.
3rd story – This story looks like it has the lowest budget, yet in terms of story and zinger ending, it’s my favorite. Just thinking about it gives me chills. A woman watches an old VHS tape that has footage of a session with her deceased sister, who was believed to have premonitions.
4th story – The film actually warns that this story isn’t a “horror” story but is included anyway. It’s just a tale with a zinger ending about a criminal who tries to cheat a blind woman.
5th story – This is the tried and true “there’s a monster in my room” scenario. It’s as basic as one of these stories can get, with all the necessary cheap scares. I’d say it’s a pretty smart way to end the show.
SCARY STORY SLUMBER PARTY (2017)
I can’t say these tedious direct to Amazon Prime horrors are a dime a dozen, because the price is actually as many as you can stomach in a year for 100 bux.
The wraparound in this low budget anthology has a bunch of sorority chicks sitting around telling scary stories. Honestly, you might as well just listen to a bunch of actual sorority girls tell scary stories.
The highlight for me is the opening, which has a girl snapping when her male friend rejects her advances because he’s gay. Kudos to the filmmakers for making this a tale of a gay slashing gone wrong.
All the other stories leave you with a “that’s it?” feeling, but they do a good job of focusing on issues that concern college girls—sex, boys, and payback.Really, it’s mostly the same idea over and over. Girl snaps when she discovers her boyfriend is texting with her best friend. Girl snaps and gets revenge on those who rejected her in school. Boy snaps and gets revenge on those who rejected him in school. Girl snaps and gets revenge on guy who knocked up her sister.
On top of all those revenge stories, the film does feature some with more of a horror theme: pranks that have supernatural consequences, a Valentine’s stalker, a killer cop, and a brief encounter with backwoods boys. I’m not saying they’re good, I’m just saying they’re horror.
I also have to say, I inexplicably find myself identifying more and more with the backwoods hillbillies in these movies these days….
STREET TALES OF TERROR (2004)
The good news is Street Tales of Terror is a step above Scary Story Slumber Party. The bad news is, there are a whole lot of steps above Scary Story Slumber Party.
Just like Tales from the Hood, this urban horror anthology features stories with social messages. The wraparound has a homeless man telling tales to a bunch of guys on the street to prolong his own death after witnessing them commit a murder.
1st story – This one is about girls who cover up the drowning of their friend when they’re young. Years later, she comes back to drag them to a watery grave just like hers…even if it means improvising.
If only the majority of the time had been focused on them being stalked and killed instead of on the backstory…
2nd story – This one stands out mostly because it’s the only tale that differs from the other two. A woman goes for an abortion and the procedure becomes hellish. The religious right might want to show this one at Bible camp.
3rd story – A group of college kids is busy partying while their friend is date raped in the next room. When she gets pregnant as a result, it ruins her life…but she comes back for revenge before graduation.
The homeless man also gets revenge in the wraparound, so essentially, this is a trio of revenge tales and an anti-abortion PSA.