There are plenty of low budget anthologies to be found out there that are hit or miss, but this trio has plenty to appreciate, especially if you make it a triple feature! Let’s take a look at Evil Little Things, Nightmare Cinema, and Scare Package.
EVIL LITTLE THINGS (2019)
If you’ve seen every doll movie out there, you’ve seen everything that happens in this killer doll anthology, or might I say andollogy. That doesn’t make it any less satisfying for doll movie lovers, because it’s well made with some creepy damn dolls.
The only real disappointment is that this 85-minute movie only has two full stories plus the wraparound. The stories simply feel like they’re stalling to get to the good stuff because they’re longer than the usual anthology stories.
The wraparound features Zach Galligan of Gremlins fame as a dick dad who can’t stand that his son thinks there are monsters in his room. The boy’s mother isn’t much help considering she takes him to a toy store and lets the creepy owner tell the boy two nightmarish stories of killer dolls…
1st story – Hannah Fierman, who freaked us all out as the crazy bar bitch in V/H/S, is refreshingly normal here. She moves into her grandmother’s old house and then has to confront a suppressed memory of her childhood: an encounter with a killer leprechaun. He’s one creepy little fucker. Oddly enough, this killer leprechaun doll story takes place on Halloween!
2nd story – a young woman who was burned in a fire along with one of her cherished dolls is now messed in the mind and has a PTSD bond with the damaged doll. Therefore, the doll is not very happy when the young woman suddenly rekindles a romance with an old flame. This killer doll is even more fricking creepy than the leprechaun. She’s basically a doll version of Linda Blair in The Exorcist.
Wraparound – the boy finally decides on a clown doll, and things get so Poltergeist that the mom even references the movie.
NIGHTMARE CINEMA (2018)
This 5-tale anthology is nicely polished because it features all experienced horror directors, including Joe Dante, Mick Garris, the director of Juan of the Dead, the director of The Midnight Meat Train, and the director of 30 Days of Night. Oddly, while it begins really strong, I found the stories got increasingly less satisfying as the film progressed.
The wraparound is cool—a character from each story enters an empty, old school movie theater and becomes the star of the film on screen. While it’s not even necessary and virtually pointless, Mickey Rourke suddenly appears as the projectionist about halfway through the film.
1st – my favorite tale, this one drops us right at the end of a slasher film for the final battle. While we don’t really know what’s going on as the masked killer hacks and slashes, it all becomes clear as the awesome truth unfolds.
2nd – not a particularly compelling tale, this does have a classic zinger ending as it takes on the mutilating aspects of plastic surgery. I don’t think it’s a coincidence that we are introduced to Rourke right after this segment.
3rd – my second favorite, this plays out like a crazy 1970s Euro rip-off of The Exorcist. A priest and nun are terrorized by a demon that even pulls some Asian horror stunts. Let’s just say I really needed the scene of a priest and nun going Kill Bill on a load of kiddies in my life right now.
4th story – Eh, it’s a semi-creepy tale of a woman who seeks therapy because she sees everyone she runs into as some sort of mutant. No, that’s not Mickey Rourke in the picture below.
5th story – a fairly generic tale of a boy who experiences some Sixth Sense shit in a hospital.
Two really fun stories and 3 just okay stories left me on the fence as to whether it’s actually worth buying Nightmare Cinema on Blu-ray.
SCARE PACKAGE (2020)
What a tease. This anthology starts with a Halloween tale in the style of Tucker & Dale—but it’s not a full Halloween anthology. Bummer.
However, the wraparound does take place in a video store, so it’s all good…and very 1980s. The guys begin talking horror, and we get a load of tales that are mostly meta madness and super farcical fun…
1st story – you can’t start any stronger than this. A bunch of campers in the woods gets thrust into more than one horror scenario at once. Over the top slapstick slasher chaos ensues.
2nd story – this brief tale about a man who joins a men’s empowerment club is okay, but it’s pretty forgettable.
3rd story – another short tale that’s okay in the moment but nothing special. Girls having a sleepover eat some candy that causes very odd side effects.
4th story – On par with the first story, this one features a group of kids capturing a masked killer that comes back each year and then trying their damnedest to do away with the threat once and for all.
5th story – another low key story that didn’t do much for me, this is about a woman who hates spoilers, so she…takes it out on the guy who possesses her?
6th story – ending at the same energy level at which the movie began, this story features a bunch of people trapped in a horror movie as they are hunted by a masked killer. The recently controversial Joe Bob Briggs plays himself in the story, but I just don’t think he has the charisma enough to stand out in a movie, so his appearance just distracts from an otherwise awesome slasher. Of course, this guy distracts as well…
So many highlights here, but for each kick ass tale, there’s one that fell flat for me. Good news is the weaker ones are all shorter, but if they had been absent entirely, this would have been an even tighter anthology. Of course, we did get that Halloween tale as the seventh freebie.
I think this Shudder exclusive is going to be a hit, so hopefully a Scare Package 2 will happen.