This is a pretty straightforward double feature; two short horror anthologies!
NO SLEEP – ANTHOLOGY OF HORROR (2017)
While this film is only 50 minutes long, because of the nature of the shorts included, even that is too long if you sit and watch it all in one sitting. Here’s why. Although each segment is very well done, with a good setup, great atmosphere, suspense, and a good jump scare or twist at the end, that’s all each segment is.
These are mostly 30-second to 1-minute shorts (the longest runs maybe 4 minutes), and they all pretty much just have a person placed in an isolated setting before jolting the audience with the appearance of some sort of shocking killer, monster, or supernatural entity for the final frame.
You know the kind of clip I’m talking about—the type your friend will send you in a YouTube link while you’re at work to give you a quick, cheap thrill. This is FIFTY minutes of those. They start to lose their effectiveness fast, even if many of them are very good. Some of them actually don’t make any sense at all – perhaps there was exposition left in the writer’s head that would have fixed those problems.
I counted almost 20 clips in total, and as is usually the case with these types of clips, the horrors are relatively familiar. There’s a guy in a bunny costume, a killer mime, a killer clown/Rear Window/found footage combo, a Ouija board/The Ring combo, a Halloween candy tale, etc.
For me, some of the cheapest thrills were had from a kid hiding under a sheet at night, a bearded bear killer dining with one of his victims, a woman being chased by ghouls in a house she enters for no clear reason, a woman using a face swap app, and an FPS video game type clip with a gnarly looking female ghoul standing in a corner.
CREEPY CAMPFIRE STORIES (2015)
I learned about this Halloween horror anthology because the band Selebrities, whose music I’ve played on my modern new wave Internet radio show Future Flashbacks, does an awesome cover of “Monster Mash” that’s used in the film.
The soundtrack CD was originally available as a packaged deal with a DVD of the film directly from the filmmakers, so I was very glad to support indie horror and get the CD. But…um…things didn’t quite work out after I made my payment, so months after not receiving my DVD/CD combo, I had to file a claim through PayPal and ordered just the CD on its own through other channels, but I’m not letting that cloud my judgment of the film beyond being a bitch and making it the first thing I say about the movie in my blog.
The wraparound takes place on Halloween, but that’s it, so don’t expect loads of Halloween atmosphere here. Kids sit around a campfire telling stories. You know, like the title says, and not unlike the anthology films Campfire Stories (2001) and Campfire Tales (1991)…and Campfire Tales (1997). The springboard is a call-in contest they are listening to on the radio for the best scary story. One of the prizes is a meet-n-greet with Elvira! She’s one of several horror references dropped for fans of the genre.
As for the tales told, none of them has anything to do with Halloween. Here is the breakdown:
1st story – This is kind of like a throwback to 90s sci-fi/slashers. A lonely computer geek’s experiment goes wrong, and he basically creates a modern Frankenstein’s monster.
2nd story – A couple moves into their new home at night (?) as images of corpses flash on the screen. If they’re supposed to suggest something happened in the house in the past, that’s never clarified. In fact, I totally didn’t understand the plot of this story. The couple experiences something supernatural, their story seems to conclude, and then a seemingly unrelated shooting takes place with no explanation as to who the unseen, unidentified participants are, and I was left scratching my head.
3rd story – This is the most like a Tales from the Darkside type story. A young woman who wants to be a model gets invited to a photo shoot at a man’s gothic mansion. While the story is pretty creepy, the twist is spoiled by a major goof during the reveal—SPOILERS: as the girls is leaving the mansion at the end, a paperboy tells her that no one has lived there for 20 years…right after he tosses a newspaper on the front lawn.
Finally, the wraparound has its own little twist, but it’s been done before and you’ll probably see it coming.
While there aren’t any stories here that will stick with you, nothing that’s going to scare you, and nothing for gore hounds, the film is well made and well paced, with a short running time of 76 minutes. It’s also loaded with alternative and rock horror tracks perfect for your Halloween playlist (and all on that awesome soundtrack CD, of course). Interestingly, all the songs are in English, including the theme song, while the film itself is in German.