Plenty of stories means plenty of opportunities for thrills and chills. Did these four anthologies deliver?
Danzig of horror punk band The Misfits directed and wrote this anthology film. There’s probably a very narrow audience that will eat this up (horny, straight, male, horror-loving punks), but for me, the footage would have served better as gory and sexual clips in short music videos instead, because a whole lot of nothing goes on for way too long here…beyond gore and sex.
The wraparound opener is deceptive because it’s super gory and leaves you expecting something quite juicy.
Then we get to the 1st story. A woman with eyes on her nipples is visited by a multi-armed demon that goes around killing women after threatening to perform nasty sexual acts on them. Keeping the eyeball tits as the…um…focus of the tale would have been so much more interesting.
Second we get an excessively long strip club scene set to metal music. In other words…a music video. Then an evil woman goes around peeling off the faces of pretty girls.
The final story is a medieval Bathory blood bath segment. It’s very slow and lingering in its execution…and in general. No real story, just endless scenes of women being sliced open so other women can bathe in their blood.
THE MORTUARY COLLECTION (2020)
Clancy Brown of Pet Sematary 2 fame plays a mortician in the wraparound of this well-polished anthology in which he tells stories to a prospective employee. It’s getting a lot of hype and praise, and I liked it for what it is, but as far as anthologies go, I can’t say I loved it or would add it to my personal collection.
1st – this is a quick warmup about a woman encountering something in a bathroom.
2nd – social commentary abounds in this darkly comic tale focusing on the way men treat women. When a frat boy bangs a girl without protection, it’s safe to say the pregnancy was the last thing he expected. This one definitely delivers some nasty exploitation.
3rd story – this is sort of a comedy of errors. A man that can no longer bear the burden of caring for his sick wife has a momentary lapse of reasoning that makes taking care of her a nightmare.
4th story – the only thing that makes this story of a babysitting job interrupted by an escaped mental patient any different than the usual is the ending, which I personally saw coming from a mile away.
TALES FROM THE HOOD 3 (2020)
I didn’t expect we’d ever get a repeat of the first movie, especially considering it was one of the bright lights in quality horror movies during the generally abysmal first half of the 1990s. So you have to go into these sequels as you would any other anthology—appreciating the tales that deliver some fun and fear. Hell, I didn’t even hate the second one.
Tony Todd stars in the wraparound, bringing a little girl to reunite with her mother as they try to avoid some unseen evil force. Their plight isn’t quite clear, but as they travel, the little girl tells some (oddly adult) horror stories to kill the time…
1st story—selling out his own people, a Black dude working for a wealthy white real estate man makes the mistakes of targeting a Black family that refuses to move from a hot property. An otherwise good and suspenseful supernatural tale, this one makes the most bizarre decision of just throwing in a random scary clown in the middle of the action. It totally takes you out of the story because it is irrelevant to anything that happens before or after. Not to mention, the clown looks like fricking Killjoy.
2nd story—this is more like a Twilight Zone episode and mostly just a cathartic tale for those that are sick of the bigoted, gun crazy, God-loving white supremacists destroying this country. It is wing-nut behavior overkill before finally reaching the satisfying zinger ending.
3rd story—one of the longer stories, this is a tale of a young singer promised a huge career by a man who instead draws her into a plot to steal an old opera singer’s riches. It takes a while to get going, but it ends on a high note when it finally delves into the occult.
4th story—somewhat lighter in tone than the other stories at first, this final tale gets darker as it progresses. A serial mugger finds himself victim of a voodoo curse that makes his life a living nightmare.
This voodoo shit always freaks me out, so this is definitely my favorite tale of the bunch. And while there are loads of hotties in the film, I love that this story stars a funny guy who shows off his fuller physique.
AMERICAN NIGHTMARES: TALES FROM THE CRIB (2018)
Maybe I spoke too soon about Tales from the Hood sequels. This one comes from Rusty Cundieff, director of all three Tales from the Hood movies! I’m not sure why this wasn’t presented as part 3 instead, because although it might not have as polished a look as part 3 (or Spike Lee as executive producer), it is actually much closer to the dark yet campy style of the original film from 1995, with smarter approaches to timely social messages. And obviously it picked up the “Tales from the Crib” subtitle on Prime to coincide with the release of Tales from the Hood 3.
The wraparound features two geeks hacking private citizens video cameras when Danny Trejo and fricking Lieutenant Uhura take over their monitors to show them seven stories…
1st – a woman breaks up with her abusive man and then tries out a dating service that promises the perfect man. Yummy. He looks perfect, but their first date sure isn’t.
2nd – Jay Mohr plays a lawyer who rises to a political position of power after sending an innocent black man to death row (fricking Darnell from My Name is Earl!). Needless to say, there will be revenge. Vivica A. Fox appears as a reporter, but despite all the familiar faces, this is the weakest story from a horror perspective IMO.
3rd – a racist white cop purchases a machine to bring his entire family to a time and place when and where no blacks are allowed. But it’s not exactly what he was expecting…
4th – Chris Kattan is a sickly man with a circus fetish who hires a prostitute. She soon finds out he wants to clown around, but there’s nothing funny about it. Kattan definitely brings some humorous moments to this fun horror tale.
5th story – kudos to Cundieff for taking on conservative attitudes towards trans people. This is a much more satisfying white supremacist story than the one in Tales from the Hood 3.
6th story – Clarence Williams III, the original hood crypt keeper (awesome), stars as a man who makes a bogus healer learn that the power is nothing to make a mockery of.
7th story – this incredibly timely story focuses on a religious cult that abducts a young woman to “save” her unborn baby.
It’s a devilishly good way to end the film.