PRIME TIME: flashbacks to the VHS days with anthologies and a thriller

So much self-isolation, so many movies to stream, so I thought I’d try out a trio of old school style horror on Prime: Grim Woods, Late Night Double Feature, and 4Closed. Here’s what you can expect from each.

GRIM WOODS (2019)

Grim Woods is reminiscent of straight-to-video anthologies from the 80s and 90s, so it definitely satisfies if you grew up on simple, scary stories. The wraparound is about a group of kids that sits around a campfire at a summer camp reading three stories from a book:

1st tale – this is a babysitter tale that kicks off with a Rick Astley rip-off song that caught my attention immediately, as did the freaky looking clown that comes knocking to stalk and kill. 

2nd tale – this is a quick take on body horror with a girl getting some bad news from a gypsy, after which she begins to suffer a “breakout”.

3rd tale – and finally, it’s the sexy scary story as kids head into the woods in search of a mythological female figure…and find her. Bring on the seduction and some man flesh.

And lastly, the wraparound kids experience a little horror of their own.

LATE NIGHT DOUBLE FEATURE (2016)

I really like the concept of this semi-anthology film—an evil doctor horror host and his nurse present two films. There’s a fun animated intro, trailers in between films, and even some hateful drama between the two horror hosts, which essentially becomes a third short film at the end.

The other two stories are quite different in tone but are both competently crafted and feel like episodes of classic anthology TV shows.

1st story – I prefer the dark horror comedy tone of this one and found it reminiscent of Tales from the Crypt episodes.

A struggling chef hired by a rich couple to cook a dinner for their friends in their mansion soon discovers what exactly it is he needs to prepare.

The guy playing the chef steals the show by the end of the story.

2nd story – dark and depressing, this is a tale of a man who hurts masochists for a living.

He learns the painful way what goes on in a client’s head to make her that hungry for hurt. There’s definitely a hint of feminist angst in this one.

While the wraparound conclusion runs nearly 30 minutes long and starts out with promise, I found it to be anti-climactic compared to the stories that came before it.

4CLOSED (2013)

The director of Rise of the Zombies, They Found Hell, Isle of the Dead, and Species: The Awakening brings us a 90s style, cookie cutter thriller. Even though it has a good cast, it feels like a made-for-Lifetime Channel suspense film.

Handyman hunk James Denton of Desperate Housewives and Marlee Matlin move into a foreclosed home with their teen daughter, and are immediately visited by their nosy Desperate Housewives type neighbor, who gives them the dirt on the previous owner.

The previous owner was Jamie Kennedy. And he wants his house back.

If you’ve seen Pacific Heights, Disturbia, The Intruder, etc., You can predict this movie as it goes.

It’s every cliché in the crazy family stalker movie book without any effective suspense or gore.

Instead, Jamie tasers victims…and most just disappear.

We never see them again or see what happened to them, although we do learn what happened to What’s Happening‘s Rog, who plays Jamie’s lawyer in the movie; tasered. Not that I’m implying that makes this snoozer worth a watch.

About Daniel

I am the author of the horror anthologies CLOSET MONSTERS: ZOMBIED OUT AND TALES OF GOTHROTICA and HORNY DEVILS, and the horror novels COMBUSTION and NO PLACE FOR LITTLE ONES. I am also the founder of BOYS, BEARS & SCARES, a facebook page for gay male horror fans! Check it out and like it at www.facebook.com/BoysBearsandScares.
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