I can never pass up a collection of short terror tales, especially in October. Let’s find out if these three were worth a watch.
BENEATH THE OLD DARK HOUSE (2022)
Scream Team Releasing is known for its 80s throwback movies, so it’s no surprise this anthology starts right in with a synth score and tits. I appreciate the retro vibe of their movies, but this anthology is lacking in cohesion, with a weak wraparound.
A ghoul puts on a human skin mask then breaks into a girl’s house, ties her up, and pops in a video for her to watch…
1st story – a nicely dressed, well-mannered white man (clear signs he’s a creep) is infatuated with a waitress, and plots to make her his. Once he gets her home, this short takes a weird, inexplicable turn, but it’s nice and disgusting.
2nd story – a young woman inherits her grandmother’s house, delivers a cleaning montage, finds a freaky doll that lets her grant wishes, and then wishes her grandmother was still alive. I guess the film tries to change things up to avoid being a copy of “The Monkey’s Paw”, but the ending becomes confusing as a result.
3rd story – scream queen Brinke Stevens stars as an author who gets a visit from a supposed fan, but he turns out to be investigating a series of satanic ritual murders. The horror and gore heavy ending of this one makes it my favorite in the bunch.
The conclusion to the wraparound was a letdown for me, and I don’t understand why they had an awesome ghoul and then hid it behind a mask…although that was ghoulish, too.
DR. SAVILLE’S HORROR SHOW (2022)
I never expect much from indie anthologies, so this was a satisfying surprise. It’s well acted and directed with some tight writing, character development, and good production values.
In the wraparound, a guy attempting to score a date in a bar suddenly finds himself in the lair of “Dr. Saville”, who makes him watch three stories…
1st – a lesbian tries a weight loss program that involves a pill that gives her a tape worm to do all the work. Eek. This gets into body horror territory, and before long the tape worm goes all Audrey II on her, demanding to be fed.
2nd story – this refreshingly bizarre story has a guy receive a parting gift from the girl who dumps him—an “aqua pet”. Is this anything like a Chia pet? We find out when the aqua pet first turns into a lovely woman before morphing into a not so lovely woman.
3rd story – this story of a man trying to protect his family from zombies but failing miserably has a good tragic twist. Sadly, there’s also a dark moment involving the family dog.
The only thing that really didn’t do too much for me with this one was the wraparound.
It’s risky to make an indie horror anthology almost two hours long, so I was a little concerned going into this one.
The wraparound is about an illustrator asked to come up with four stories based on her greatest fears for a comic book…
1st story – I’m a fan of “guys go to horror whore house” plots, and this one has some icky special effects, but I kind of felt short-changed. It was over just when it started to get fun!
2nd story – what begins as a story of a preacher murdering his wife for having an affair turns into total grindhouse chaos when he goes to bury the body in the woods, with a killer, cannibals, and loads of gore.
3rd story – a homeless crazy dude rumored to be a killer chases a teenager while claiming he has to save her. After a tragic turn of events, she learns what he was talking about. This one has a classic anthology twist.
4th story – two couples working on a movie set show up at the same cabin, and things just get…weird. In short, there’s some sort of spinning blue hologram beckoning them from the woods. This is less horror and more sci-fi with dark, mysterious atmosphere. Being a slow burn and the longest tale of the bunch, it really brings down the energy. It also doesn’t have much of an ending, especially for a story that’s supposed to focus on someone’s greatest fear. There’s nothing tangible about this fear.
In random news, we learn what the illustrator’s greatest fear really is in the conclusion to the wraparound, and it’s as tangible and as basic as it gets.