I love a good anthology. Sadly it finds itself under represented in the genre because it’s hard to get right. There was a slew of them in the 60’s and 70’s, mainly from the British studio Amicus Productions. They released films such as Tales From The Crypt, or The House That Dripped Blood (Sadly this never actually occurs) and Asylum, the latter two written by Robert Bloch (Psycho), based on his own stories. They’re all worth checking out if you like little films with a sting in their tale, or just if you want to see Joan Collins get strangled by a homicidal Santa Clause.
Sure every few years someone releases a new one (Creepshow remains a classic) but by and large they come and go with little fanfare. But this year saw the release of the internet search-unfriendly V/H/S and it’s more than a worthwhile addition to the genre.
A group of petty criminals are given a pretty simple but high paying job. Break into a remote house and steal a particular tape. When they get there they find a dead man in an armchair and a stack of video tapes and much more than they bargained for! (Last bit courtesy of IMDB).
As the theme of the week is ‘found footage’, If you can call 2 days a theme, your tolerance for V/H/S may wear thin pretty quickly, as each film is handheld heaven (One takes place entirely over Skype, so those of you with motion sickness should be alright) and really only one isn’t entirely successful, which is run of the mill for any Anthology film. That one, which details a slasher in the woods that can’t be caught on camera, is hampered by some terrible acting and a distinctly goofy premise.
The others, thankfully, more than make up for it. One details a Halloween party that goes wrong, in fact you can fill in the blank pretty much as long as you end it with “…that goes wrong.”. There’s something for everyone here, subtle scares, over the top gore and boobs. Really, who doesn’t love boobs? (Terrorists probably).
Interestingly, the five Directors involved in the film made their parts separately unaware of what the others were doing (The producers kept on eye on things to make sure the segments didn’t repeat themselves), so it’s interesting that gender roles play as big a part as it does in all of the films, linking each of the films in theme, if not necessarily in content. Each film can easily be seen as a battle of the sexes, with the final film subverting this somewhat. It’s not that the films make any grand statements, but it’s there just below the surface. Only the slasher segment really doesn’t adhere to this, but we’ve already established that it’s not very good anyway, so we might as well kick it when it’s down.
There’s a trailer out there for the film, but I’m not going to link to it because it spoils some pretty key moments from the films. It’s not exactly like learning who Keyzer Soze is, but it’s a lot more fun when you don’t know where things are going.
As this is turning into a found footage week we may as well do a couple more and I have a feeling I’ve already peaked, so expect me to be driven mad by an overuse of night vision very soon.