I’m confused. I usually turn to IMDb.com to look up the nuts and bolts of a film when I write the review (you know; the actor’s names, producers, f/x artists …). But this time my old reliable website has let me down. I streamed DEADTIME STORIES: VOLUME 1 from netflix, where its listed as a 2011 release. But them IMDb.com has Volume One being released in 2009 and Volume Two being released in 2010, and the description of both volumes is different from the one I saw (Volume Two only has 2 of the 3 stories I saw). What the fuck people; is this really that hard to get straight? So for clarity’s sake, I’m reviewing the DEADTIME STORIES: VOLUME 1 that I streamed live from netflix. ‘Nuff said on the topic.
Phew; that was a lot of explanation for a really shitty anthology film!! I mean seriously; what the fuck was George Romero thinking? Romero, who serves as executive producer and the host on both volumes, knows how to do anthology films. Remember a little film called CREEPSHOW? What about his TALES FROM THE DARKSIDE movie and TV show? Romero has proven himself as a talented anthology writer/director. So why the hell does he put his name on this piece of shit project? Seriously; this is truly one of the most disappointing movie-watching experiences I’ve had all year. The anthology consists of three short films that are … well, they’re crap.
The first story, “Valley of the Shadow” (directed by Jeff Monahan) has a woman, Angela (Amy Marsalis), journeying into the “deep jungle” (more on this in a second) in search of her missing husband. The story is clumsy, the acting is hard to watch, and the ending is so dumb that you’ll hate yourself for not using the fast-forward button on your DVD player. Now about that “deep jungle” … As Angela searches for her hubby, she leads her expedition deeper and deeper into uncharted jungles. But the ‘jungle’ here looks suspiciously like a public State park. Seriously; I expected to hear kids playing on a swing set in the background and see a house cat stuck up in a tree at any moment.
“Valley of the Shadow” was NOT a good start.
The second story, “Wet” (directed by Michael Fischa) is a slight improvement over the first installment (which really isn’t saying much). In “Wet,” Jack (Jeff Monahan) is a recluse living alone on the beach. One day he stumbles upon a box buried on the beach, digs it up, and takes it to Swan’s Antiques to try and find out how much it’s worth. Swan (Nick Mancuso) immediately recognizes the box and tells him to get rid of it, but we all know he doesn’t. Mayhem ensues. Oh hold on … let me clear up that last comment: The story crawls along at a snail’s pace until finally some ‘mayhem’ slowly ensues. The premise and acting here is better than “Valley of the Shadow,” but the premise is never fully explored and you feel director Fischa really didn’t take full advantage of the setup here. Whereas “Valley of the Shadow” had no potential, “Wet” is wasted potential.
“Wet” is NOT a particularly strong middle entry.
This brings us to the third story, “House Call” (directed by f/x guru Tom Savini). Finally we get a decent story, solid acting, and some decent production values. “House Call” follows an elderly doctor (Bingo O’Malley) as he makes a house call to a mother (Maryann Nagel) who’s worried about her sick son (Jason Hoehnen). This one is no doubt the best directed film in the anthology, and Savini gets some great shots that really set a dark and mysterious mood. Savini also plays around with the audience, letting them think the film is going in one direction and he then takes it in a different direction in the end. This one is enjoyable, but is it good enough to make the first two stories tolerable? Hhmmm; not really.
Romero pops up between the stories as the film’s host, offering some witty remarks and introducing each story. I’m thinking he never watched the stories and was just handed some copy and told to read. I just can’t believe he would’ve put his name on this turd if he actually watched the stories within.
But then again, maybe he needed a mortgage payment.
Skip this anthology and instead go back and revisit CREEPSHOW and TALES FROM THE DARKSIDE. This one sucks out loud.
Directors: Jeff Monahan, Michael Fischa, Tom Savini
Plot: 1 out of 5 (for the overall anthology)
Gore: 3.5 out of 10 skulls (for the overall anthology)
Zombie Mayhem: 0 out of 5 brains (for the overall anthology)
Reviewed by Scott Shoyer