In my defense, I more than recuperate the money for the annual Amazon Prime fee through free shipping on my orders, so all three of these were basically free to watch.
MILE HIGH HORROR (2013)
This anthology appears to be a compilation of short films gathered together by the Mile High Horror Film Festival. There’s no wraparound, but there are ten stories in this hour and fifteen minute movie.
Many of the segments feel like something you would just catch on YouTube and then forget, some feel oddly brief and almost incomplete, and a few are animated and stop motion shorts, including one that features horror rewrites of classic nursery rhymes. A few standouts made my favorites list.
The two stories that starts things off make it seem like this is going to be a collection of campy horror comedies. The first features a man terrorized in his home by a door-to-door Bible thumper, and the second takes on the comic complications of serial killing. There’s a very well made zombie short that may not add anything new to the genre, but it does what we already know and love quite well.
If you like things gruesome and sadistic, an entire segment is simply dedicated to a man scalping a woman. Another adds a cool and icky twist to the urban legend about kidney stealing. And finally, the film closes with a fairly predictable short that is totally entertaining nonetheless – two guys bring home an old table with a mysterious hole in the center, so of course, one guy sticks his head through it….
SCARY TALES: LAST STOP (2015)
I was somewhat distraught when I began watching this and discovered that it’s the follow-up to the director’s anthology simply called Scary Tales. But in the end, if this one is the last stop, I’m okay with having missed the first stop.
The wraparound has four strangers stuck in a train station overnight—an average woman, a young slacker chick, a young guy, and an older asshole dude. Immediately, one of the glaring problems with the film is revealed. The laborious dialogue is clearly a conduit for the writer/director to channel all his brilliant observations about society onto the screen. This gives amateur actors even more of a challenge when it comes time to make the words seem like their own, so they pretty much don’t even bother trying.
Anyway, the four decide to tell stories about scary dreams they had:
Average woman’s story – Basically a Psycho fan film. The woman goes on a dinner date with a guy—at his house—and agrees to stay the night. After they recite thoughts from the writer’s head for five minutes, there’s a music montage of them continuing to talk! Then we get a montage of her being left alone while the guy runs out for a while. Eventually, she goes into the basement…the one place the guy told her to stay away from.
Young slacker chick’s story – She meets an inspiration guru at a coffee shop. After they recite more thoughts from the writer’s head for five minutes, she joins the guru at one of his seminars…an underground cult where they kill social degenerates.
Young guy’s story – As bad as this whole experience is, I actually have a favorite story, and it’s this one. First, the young guy’s parents talk about going to see a boy band in concert. Then he goes to housesit, which sort of includes babysitting a teenage girl. This young guy is pretty much my favorite actor in the film, because he has a naturally comic persona, and it’s used to good effect here, playing off the girl in the role of the teenager, who is equally natural. The overall plot is kind of campy as well. She tells him that Bigfoot is out there and they should hunt for him. Turns out Bigfoot is just a guy in a costume you can get at Party City. No, seriously. The odd “twist” ending brings back the filmmaker’s usual practice of philosophizing through dialogue, but at least it doesn’t weigh down the thick of the plot this time. I got a kick out of this dopey segment all around.
The older asshole dude’s story – After the director…I mean…character gets a new job and bashes the corporate job market for about 10 minutes, he is chased by a guy in a mask for a few seconds.
The wraparound finishes with everyone kind of standing around outside the train station looking like they’re thinking, “Are we done filming yet? Can I go home?” before their fates are revealed.
FORGOTTEN TALES (2016)
I would like to say the 66-minute run time makes this the best in the bunch, but it ends up feeling like the longest of all due to the homemade feel. I do appreciate the random opening kill scene of a couple parked in a car, the morphing into an animated sequence for the opening credits in an attempt to give a nod to Creepshow, and an attempt to create a little crossover of the three stories.
First story – A young woman is staying at a house that’s haunted—by a woman in pale makeup whose movements are treated with a haloing effect to make her all apparition-like. While the execution might be amateur, the plot and twist are worthy of an anthology film with a budget.
Second story – A babysitter begins to get prank calls. Suddenly, a bad guy pops out and tries to rape her, which leads to them “stunt” fighting for a few minutes until one of them wins. There’s something absurdly humorous about this story (aside from the stunt fighting). The identity of the bad guy is intended to be a shocking twist, but the guy’s performance is almost comical, so you kind of feel like you’re being punked as you watch.
Third story – A Carnie Wilson looking chick goes on an audition and is then stalked and harassed by the weirdo filmmaker, who wants her in his movie really bad. The guy playing the filmmaker shines in this lackluster presentation. He definitely deserves to be tapped for some better budget horror.
Despite the extremely generic title, there is a notable theme running throughout the stories – women being preyed on by men they barely know.