We’re taking a quick deviation from the usual “This Week in Netflix” to review a DVD anthology. You’re going to take it and like it, or I will hunt you down and spoonfeed you babyfood until you puke.
Now, the anthology in question is George A. Romero’s “Deadtime Stories: Volume 2“, which was released yesterday. Yes, I know, I’m late. Blame the US Postal Service, as I certainly will continue to do so.
This is a collection of three 30 minute long(+/-) shorts distributed by Millenium Entertainment and retails for around $25. (If you aren’t in the know, “+/-” means “plus or minus” and can be translated to “give or take.”)
Being an anthology which, really, I feel should be called a triology in this case, I’m going to review the shorts individually. No, I’m not asking permission, I’m simply warning you in advance so you don’t go into spastic fits at any structural surprises you may encounter.
DEADTIME STORY#1: THE GORGE
Three friends go caving (AKA: spelunking). Two, Donna and Gary, are engaged.
Now, if that knowledge wasn’t enough to make you think that these two are going to be brutally separated like a fox from its trapped leg, the very first line in the movie is Gary saying, “I love you, you know.”
They go deeper into the cave (like you do, you know, when you’re caving) and there’s a cave-in. Donna and platonic-friend Craig (AKA: the creepy ginger kid) escape mostly unscathed, but Gary isn’t so lucky– his foot gets a bit pulverized.
Now, this could be redeemable, but then he starts telling Donna about how they’re going to get married and you’re left wondering why he doesn’t just eat the business end of a gun and save himself the pain of being eaten alive. Because you know that’s what’s going to happen. If it’s not his two buddies, it’s going to be aliens, giant rats, or a pack of wandering cave-hobos.
Aliens and giant rats stretch the special effects budget a little too far, so it’s left to Donna and Ginger to eat him once they are driven mad with hunger on Day 27 of being trapped in the cave.
They eventually get rescued and things get all freaking adorable as Donna goes into a psychotic rampage.
My problems with this short are twofold: first, the background music was set so much higher than the dialogue that I had to turn on subtitles to know what was going on with the characters. That should never happen. Second, it was shot like daytime television. It took the edge off of the entire short, meaning that even if I had been able to hear (and care about) the characters, I couldn’t take it seriously because I was waiting for John’s long-lost twin brother to come forward and dig up Susie from the grave so they could betray Billy and Gloria.
Highlight: Ginger rips the head off of a bat all Ozzy-style. Rrarr!
Riding the crazy train.
DEADTIME STORY #2: ON SABBATH HILL
Dr. Weaver is a humanities professor at some prestigious-looking college. He has a beautiful wife, two little girls, and a devotion to rountine and order that makes him look more than a little OCD. He’s also a bit of a dick, kicking out kids if they miss class, insisting that there be no absences.
Minerva Mink, how I’ve missed you.
He’s also sleeping with one of his students, a gorgeous little blonde named Allison (Allison’s a great name, by the way, and you know that if someone’s named Allison, you should read all their articles because they’re inherently awesome). She confesses to him that she’s pregnant and Weaver isn’t pleased because his routine might be violated. She asks him what he wants her to do. He tells her that she just shouldn’t miss his class.
So she shows up the next day, tells him she’ll never miss, and scatters her brains across her fellow students (talk about awkward).
Her ghost starts haunting him– showing up to class, bleeding all over the place and giving birth to their undead baby. Moaning his name in the hallways. Rearranging his pens. Okay, not that last one, but if she had, he would’ve gone totally nuts.
The ending was wonderful. 1970s horror movie inspired on all sides. It was shot gorgeously, like a regular movie. This was the obvious baby of the anthology. The budget was higher, the locations were better, and there were actually extras. Lots of extras. The soundtrack was fannnntastic, strongly reminding me of “The Exorcist.” If you love the old 70s horror flicks, this short is something you’ll want to see.
DEADTIME STORY #3: DUST
George is a security guard for a scientific testing facility. Alex is a scientistic at said facility. Audrey is George’s way-too-hot-for-him wife, who is dying of leukemia back at George’s house. That’s the entire cast for this movie, by the way. There’s one extra in the form of another security guard.
One night, Alex excitedly shows George some orange dust from Mars and tells him that he thinks it can cure leukemia– but George can’t have any, neener neener neener. Well, not so much on the “neener”s, but that it isn’t open for public consumption, sorry about your dying wife, George.
George waits for Alex to go on break and steals some dust, then goes home and administers it to his wife.
Side-effect of Mars dust is, we discover, uncontrollable sex drive. She rides him until he’s secretly applying ointment to his rubbed-raw junk. Oh, and there’s tits in this. For those of you who are anxiously wanting to know.
When she starts backsliding into leukemia, he confesses what he did and she tells him to get more. So he goes back and gets some but Alex shows up and George hits him with… something. Something so mighty that, even on a weak swing, Alex’s eyeball pops out and he dies.
Yeah, I didn’t get it either.
He drags Alex’s body home, gives the dust to his wife, gives the deep dicking to his wife, ointments his junk, and goes back to work.
When he comes home again, Audrey is cheating on him with Alex. Things go downhill from there.
This short was shot akin to early “Tales from the Crypt” and was obviously pretty low budget, but if you like that feel, then you’d enjoy this one. My major complaint, other than thinking this was written to be a morality play (Yes, I caught your apple symbolism– yick), is the camera work. When the camera moves, you’re incredibly aware of it. It jolts you straight out of the short and into “WTF is the camera guy doing?” mode. Repeatedly.
Overall, this DVD gave me mixed feelings. I certainly wouldn’t watch “The Gorge” or “Dust” again, but I would definitely watch “On Sabbath Hill” and snag some of my horror movie friends to join in.
When you check the credits, you’ll see that all three shorts have total inbreeding of writers, producers, directors, etc. There’s even some family members in there as extras, so you know that this was something that people did as a group, put a lot of work into, and had fun with. As someone who hangs out on the occasional low-budget set, I can appreciate this sort of creative environment a lot, and would love to support a third Deadtime Stories.
I wonder if he does mall appearances on Halloween.
Also, George A. Romero does the closing bits to each short, Crypt Keeper style. All I can think of when I watch him is: Why the hell isn’t he my grandfather, and how much would I have to pay for him to let me curl up in his lap and read me horror stories?