We like horror movies. You like horror movies. It’s like we’re a match made in cinema heaven. What’s better than one horror movie at a time? How about a horror movie with more than one horror story contained between the opening and closing credits? Of course, we’re talking about the horror anthology.
Some good anthologies have been released in the past few years. Here are just a few of our favorites and a couple to avoid. Let us know if you have a favorite anthology on Twitter or our Facebook page.
Technically, Ghost Stories isn’t an anthology. At least it’s not an anthology in the sense we have been trained to think of an anthology. Except, that’s what’s so deceptive about Ghost Stories.
Professor Goodman, the last name is more deceptive than we’re lead to believe, debunks paranormal activity and practitioners of the supernatural for a living. He even has a television series where he debunks something every episode. He’s totally convinced there’s nothing going bump in the night and the things we do see are products of our mind. His motto is “The brain sees what it wants to see.”
The movie starts like an introduction to one of Goodman’s episodes (the opening of more traditional anthologies use the same technique, but with someone more like the Crypt Keeper).During this introduction we meet Goodman’s childhood hero and another paranormal debunker Charles Cameron. Cameron, who has contacted Goodman to meet him at his trailer home, gives Goodman three cases for him to investigate. The purpose of these cases is to show Goodman there really is something on the other side of the living world.
These three cases are some of the scariest and most nerve racking tales put on film. Tony Mathews, a night watchman at an old factory, is terrorized by the ghost of a dead girl. Simon Rifkind in case two seems like an autistic teen or someone suffering from paranoia. Except, he’s neither one of these things. Poor Simon has seen things no one should have to see. Case three features Martin Freeman (Sherlock Holmes) as Mike Priddle. Priddle’s case is the disturbing tale of a wife who wanted a child at any cost.
It’s the last case that connects all the other cases. Priddle’s case also explains why Goodman has been seeing some of the paranormal he so admittedly denies. What should give the whole story away is how, when trying to open a shed door, Priddle asks “Why is it the last key that always opens things?” Why? Because Riddle is the last key.
There’s a lot going on in Ghost Stories. Clues and hints are dropped along the path the more perseptive viewer will pick up almost at once. You’re not let down in the least at the big reveal in the end. Ghost Stories is one of the best anthologies, and one of the best horror movies, to come out in quite sometime.
XX proves women can create horror movies just as good as men. The four stories in XX each run about twenty minutes. Like a good short story, the episodes don’t waste time on the frivolous. The episodes are tight, well acted, directed, and pretty darn creepy.
It would be difficult to say which story is the best. Every segment has its own unique style. “The Box”, a story of hunger, is some of the finest psychological horror you’ll find in a short movie or a full length feature. “The Birthday Party,” starring Melanie Lynskey (Castle Rock), is a dark humor comedy of errors. “Don’t Fall” finds a group of hikers who accidentally unleash something they should have left alone . In “Her Only Living Son” a mother fights a dead beat father’s influence over her son.
Trick ‘r Treat
Traditional horror anthologies have a host, like the Crypt Keeper, doing an intro and an outro for each story. Trick r Treat abandons the traditional host. Instead of a host the little terror known as Sam appears in every episode. He, “it” may be a more appropriate word, is the spirit of Halloween. Sam’s primary function is to make sure people are respecting the Halloween traditions and punishing those who don’t.
Werewolves, zombies, and killers populate the small un-named city in Trick r Treat. Director Michael Dougherty and editor Robert Ivison seamlessly blended and wrapped one story in Trick r Treat into the next. In a Tartanino-esque move, the beginning of the movie is the end. It makes an already great anthology better and separates itself from other horror anthologies.
ABCs of Death
ABCs of Death is unique in the horror anthology category. Twenty six directors from around the word were given a letter of the alphabet. Their mission was to create a short movie based on word starting with the given letter. The only requirement was the story had to be about death.
All twenty-six shorts were shot on shoe string budgets. Some of the segments look like they were made on the cheap while others seemed to have made the most of the budget ( “V if Vagitus The Cry of Newborn Baby”). The segments run the gambit of quality from great to the miserably put together.
Overall, ABCs of Death is novel. The execution by some of “the world’s leading directors in genre film” is not novel. The movie’s saving grace is the fast forward button. The reason it’s on our list is because you can skip to the letters you like. Out of twenty-six episodes there should be something for everyone.
Tales from the Hood 2
Admit it. You liked the original Tales from the Hood. Director Rusty Cundieff and producer Spike Lee return for another round of tales.
Tales from the Hood 2 comes off more like a bad version of Crash than a horror anthology.We know, or at least the great majority of us, know racism is wrong. At every turn Tales from the Hood 2 rams the message down our collective throats. It gets old quick and doesn’t add to the over all quality of the movie.
The “Good Golly” episode lets us all know about systematic racism. It also drives the point home we’re all racists- black or white. Being racists we all need to be punished even if it means giving birth to tiny golly dolls. “The Sacrifice” reminds us all of the sacrifices made by Civil Rights pioneers, but doesn’t explain why the lead character has to die because he’s a Republican.
The two episodes that don’t pander to the audience are only decent. “Date Night” is about two sexual predators who troll the internet to find women to rape. The tables are turned when the skeezy men learn the women they met on Tinder are vampires. The hot vampires use the internet to lure men into their home to kill. There’s probably a message in this segment too. Except, Tinder is an app used to “hook up” with people. It’s not that date rape has never occurred when two Tinders hook up, but the whole point of the app is to connect two willing people for a hit and quit it encounter. Oh, well.
“The Medium” is about a dead drug dealer who posses the body of a television medium. There’s nothing new to see in this segment. The television medium is a fake until drug dealers threaten his life if he can’t channel the spirit of a dead drug dealer. Of course, the dead drug dealer possess the medium’s body.
All is not lost. The always excellent Keith David plays the role of the storyteller. David tells the stories to an overtly racist, white, rich guy. Of course, the racist white guy pays the ultimate price after David reveals his true identity.
Tales from the Hood 2 may not be everyone’s cup of tea. However, if you liked the original anthology you’ll like the second.