Quantcast Trilogy Pics - 3 Movies You Should Watch Tonight: SEPTEMBER 2006 - GREAT HORROR ANTHOLOGIES



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Sept. 2006 Trilogy Pics:

TRILOGY PICS: Great Horror Anthologies

Masters of Horror has returned short horror to the small screen, but there have been dozens of theatrically or feature length horror anthology films released. Most seem to have been made between the 60s and the 80s, and they’ve rarely been met with any sort of success, commercially or critically. It’s much easier to take your short horror in the form of a TV series like “Masters”, “Tales From The Crypt/Darkside”, “Twilight Zone”. For a theatrical audience, it’s sometimes a bit much to ask them to invest in 3 or more stories and sets of characters over the course of 90-120 minutes. Still, while many horror anthologies can be cheap, low-budget, and mostly ineffective collections of short films, there have been a select few that really go the distance. Here are a few really excellent anthology films to check out. Not every chapter in each is a winner, but most have a two, maybe even one chapter that makes the whole film worth seeing. Hey, think of it as a bonus Trilogy Picks, instead of just three movies, why not enjoy 10 tonight instead!

Twice-Told Tales: There was only one Vincent Price, so getting 3 distinct Vincent Price performances in one film is, well, priceless. You really get to see what an extraordinary actor Mr. Price was, and what a ridiculously vast range he had. Even though he mostly plays the baddie here, it’s great fun watching him play the antagonist 3 different ways. The film is based on three stories from Nathaniel Hawthorne, “Dr. Heidegger’s Experiment”, “Rappaccini’s Daughter”, and “The House of Seven Gables”.

The first, “Dr. Heidegger” involves three friends and woman who have seemingly discovered a youth-inducing elixir. “Rappaccini’s Daughter” is the absolute standout of the three and features Price as a demented scientist who’s done something truly, awful to his beautiful daughter, rendering her poisonous to anyone who tries to touch her. “The House of the Seven Gables” is the weakest of the three, mostly because it condenses a long novel into a short film. Price plays the tormented Gerald Pyncheon. Curiously enough, Price starred in a feature-length version of “Seven Gables” 23 years earlier, playing the younger Charles Pyncheon.

Creepshow: Here’s a title that you should all be familiar with, but no horror anthology night could be complete without it. It’s probably the finest example of how to make this sort of thing work. Director George Romero paired with writer Stephen King to a film that looked, felt, and flowed like an old 50’s era horror comic book, like “Tales from the Crypt” or “The Vault of Horror”. Not adaptations of any of those books, the stories are all originals. Those comics had already been directly adapted a few years earlier by a British studio. They were admirable efforts with great casts and directors (in front of the camera Peter Cushing, Joan Collins, and behind the camera the great Freddie Francis), but they decidedly were a very British version of an American artform. They just didn’t get the look and feel down right and they look, appropriately, like well-made 70’s British horror films.

King and Romero decided to make their comic-book inspired film act the part. The stories are sufficiently wacky:

“Father’s Day” involves a lovely family reunion with the guest of honor being Nathan Grantham, who’s been dead for 10 years. This segment’s got a great cast with including a young Ed Harris, and the late Viveca Lindfors as wacky “Aunt Bediela”.

“The Lonesome Death of Jordy Verill” features Stephen King himself as the title character who’s gradually overcome by weeds and fungus from outerspace. Ok, so maybe it wasn’t a good idea to cast non-actor King, virtually alone on screen for 20 some odd minutes. A lot of people are harsh on this segment, but really all Stephen King is required to do as an “actor” in this one is look stupid, make a bunch of stupid faces. It’s over the top and campy, but this is supposed to be a comic book film. Sure Viveca Lindfors method’s it up in the “Father’s Day” segment but that wasn’t really necessary here. It plays out fine, and it’s all rather funny.

“Something to Tide You Over” is a classic adultery-revenge tale with an undead twist at the end. It features a pre-“Cheers” Ted Danson and a just post-“Airplane” Leslie Neilsen as two men in love with the same woman. Leslie plays a bit of a heavy here, that’s interesting to watch, and you get to see what Ted Danson looks like in Tom Savini’s zombie makeup!

“The Crate” is about a “something” that’s been living in, you guessed it, a crate that’s been hidden under a stairwell in the research building at a prestigious university. This “something” hails from Antartica, hence the fur, and is very hungry, hence the enormous teeth. Hal Holbrook plays a man who’s had a bitch too, um, I mean a bit too much of his dear wife, “Billie” (Adrienne Barbeau, who bravely takes on the role of an insulting, drunk, unpleasant, ugly wife. The role was far from type, as she was considered something of a sex symbol at the time).

“They’re Creeping Up On You” is a virtual soliloquy of paranoia for the late E.G. Marshall. He hates dirt, and he really hates bugs so he’s locked himself up in a virtually sanitized prison. It’s unfortunate that he’s forgotten to pay the exterminator this month. This one has an ending that literally makes the movie. So entirely sick and demented this entire segment is often cut out of network TV showings.

The segments are tied up in a wraparound story about a young kid (played by Stephen King’s son Joe) who’s dad isn’t too fond of horror comics. The really great thing about “Creepshow”, besides the writing and performances being so strong is it’s really fantastic how Romero designed the thing to look. There’s a lot of use of strange camera angles, fantastic and colorful lighting, comic-book style framing pops up from time to time to move the story along. It’s got the feel and look of the old-style horror comics down perfectly, and rather than feel gimmicky or intrusive, it works to make “Creepshow” feel cohesive, something horror anthologies often fail miserably to do.

Kwaidan:I’m no huge fan of current Japanese horror. Sorry guys, I just don’t get them. This however is Japanese horror from 1964, and ok, it’d probably be a challenge to sit through all 183 minutes, but your patience will be rewarded. The film is a beautiful work of supernatural art. There are four separate stories, “The Black Hair”, involving a samurai who leaves his wife for another richer woman. He eventually wants to be taken back, and she promises to stay with him, forever, horror-movie style of course. The story in “The Woman of the Snow” is probably familiar to you if you’ve seen another horror anthology “Tales from the Darkside”. This is the original Japanese version of the “Lover’s Vow” segment of that film, to say anymore would give away too much of my favorite segment. Next story is “Hoichi”, about a singing monk who’s music is so beautiful the spirits of the demand, at high cost, he sing to them at night. Finally, the film ends with “In A Cup Of Tea”, about another samurai who keeps seeing a spirit, and cannot seem to fight him. You probably won’t find much that’s very scary in “Kwaidan”, but it’s extremely interesting to at least once experience this beautiful film, at least to see a bit of where Japanese horror comes from. -mikec.

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