Monday, August 27, 2012

THE THEATRE BIZARRE (2011) movie review

Theatre Bizarre, The (2011) (1st viewing) d. Various

After all the hype and build-up over the prospect of six promising horror directors contributing their talents to an anthology film, the result is a crashing disappointment – a collection of not-bad shorts that bear no commonality except their unified missing of presumed dramatic targets.  There’s not a true stinker in the bunch (though Jeremy Kasten’s ridiculously literal, Udo Kier-featuring framing devices might just as well been left on the cutting room floor), and equally so, there is not one of the five tales that rises above its middlin’ brethren. 

All exhibit squandered promise, and the fault for the most part lies in the disparate scripts (written or co-written in five of the six cases by the directors) that lack a true punchy punchline among them.  Richard Stanley’s “Mother of Toads” has atmosphere galore – and Catriona MacCall – but drives a frustratingly straight narrative line of a witch bewitching her victims.  Buddy Giovinazzo’s “I Love You” has the opposite problem, wearing a hole in the carpet over its thin breakup story, and Douglas Buck’s polished “The Accident” lacks any real horror at all, content with depicting what happens when motorcycle meets Bambi.  Tom Savini’s “Wet Dreams” (with script by John Esposito) comes closest to actually delivering goods promised, as James Gill continually experiences nightmares of gruesome emasculation; by contrast, David Gregory’s “Sweets” has little to no story at all –just a calorie-busting freak show.  Karim Hussain’s “Vision Stains” possesses the most intriguing premise of the bunch – a female serial killer who steals the intraocular fluid of her victims and injects it into her own eyes, experiencing her prey’s “life flashing before their eyes” and documenting these stories – so when it sputters out with only the weakest EC-inspired comeuppance whimper, it’s doubly disheartening. 

Were these student films or rank novices, expectations might not have been so high, but the roster of talent on board deserves a higher level of scrutiny, and as such, disappointment reigns.

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