My notes on the anthology movie.
‘What about the girl in your dreams? The one with the Lovecraftuan vagina? Is she someone you know in your waking life?’
An anthology movie with a nice range of interesting fringe horror directors, who have varying ambitions – it’s consistent overall, though Douglas Buck is playing to a much higher standard than the others, so the placement of his outstanding short here is like finding a John Cheever story in an issue of Tales From the Crypt. In the frame story (directed by Jeremy Kasten, written by Zach Chassler), a woman (Virginia Newcomb) visits the title theatre, where a clay-faced puppet (Udo Kier) cavorts on stage and introduces the stories – as the evening progresses, the puppet becomes more human and the woman turns into a doll (the reveal with her eyes is very good). The stories vary in setting, style and approach, but the majority of them turn on bad relationships – though this isn’t quite a theme anthology about couples being horrid.
The Mother of Toads (directed by Richard Stanley; written by Stanley, Scarlett Amaris and Emiliano Ranzani). A couple (Shane Woodward and Victoria Maurette) in France come across Lovecraftian omens and visit a seeress (Catriona MacColl) who owns a Necronomicon, and turns out to be a gloopy weretoad-woman out to seduce the young man to spawn a new generation.
“I love you” (directed and written by Buddy Giovinazzo). Mo (Suzan Anbeh) tries to leave jealous Axel (André Hennicke), and it ends badly – a break-up scene, followed by a cut-up scene. Well-acted and intense, with a hint of ghostliness at the end, but it feels like an exercise.
Wet Dreams (directed by Tom Savini; written by John Esposito). Another bad couple (Debbie Rochon, James Gil), and a lot of dick-lopped-off jokes – cartoonish with a Creepshow vibe, albeit obsessed with cock-chopping. The man has a fear of castration (Savini plays a shrink), and the woman eventually obliges – as in “I love you”, the wife turns around and fulfils all the horrible fantasies the husband has about her.
The Accident (directed and written by Douglas Buck). A mother (Lena Kleine) talks about death with her daughter (Mélodie Simard), using a road accident – after which a grizzled biker-type (Bruno Decary) mercy-kills a wounded deer – as an example. This is an allusive, subtle, chilling-yet-affecting piece, and is notable in the company of mainly cynical, comic-horrific nastiness for depicting actual love (mother-daughter) in an unusual, convincing way. Amid so much negativity, it’s refreshing.
Vision Stains (directed and written by Karim Hussain). A seeming serial killer (Kaniehtiio Horn) syringes out the memories of women who want to die from the vitreous humours of their eyes and injects it, to relive their lives. A grimy, nasty piece, this has a premise but not enough development. Of all the segments, this feels most like a sketch for a feature – though Hussain’s unremitting junkieworld horror might not be bearable at any greater length.
Sweets (directed and written by David Gregory). A stylised, colourful gross-out charade about overconsumption that looks like a Stephen Sayadian take on La Grande Bouffe/Blow Out, albeit with a rich sauce of black humour (maybe the Monty Python Mr Creosote sketch lurks about in there too). It’s a ritual rather than a story, but offers memorable guignol recipes. With Lynn Lowry as the hostess of the excess party and Lindsay Goranson and Guilford Adams as another couple en route to a terminal break-up in the most flamboyant manner.
CJ Lines Some incredible names involved in this. Looking forward to seeing it.
Maxine Fone it wasn’t great……odd moments…
Greg Sonier I was able to see this back in July at Montreal’s Fantasia Film Festival with all of the filmakers in attendance. I think it’s my favorite film this year.