TOP ANTHOLOGY HORROR FILMS
Notice how FROM A WHISPER TO A SCREAM (THE OFFSPRING) is not on this list, this is no coincidence. So, it doesn't make the top three or the top ten, but there is still something worthy here. First and foremost it is "hosted" by Vincent Price who plays an old superstitious librarian. This fact alone makes this blood drenched piece of macabre worthy. There are four stories here and if they were all as good as the first I may have given this a special number six slot in a top ten list.
Our preamble is a woman receiving a lethal injection and a reporter documenting her death rattle. After the cheap prison cell set we are whisked away to a mansion only to find out its an ancient library. While the exterior is a vast colonial mansion, its interior is one simple room filled - but not to the brim - with dusty archaic books and a similarly clad librarian. The reporter tells Price that his niece is dead to which he retorts with tales of terror from the town - implying that the land is some how cursed with evil and that his niece was a result of said impurities. This brings us to our first and best tale of wonder.
Cinema legend Clu Gulager stars in the first installment. Gulager is a genre vetran as is Price - though not as prolific. Gulager started his horror career in Alfred Hitchcock Presents and went on to star in non horror fare like THE KILLERS (opposite Lee Marvin and John Cassavettes), LAST PICTURE SHOW, and then a slew of TV shows and flop films till RETURN OF THE LIVING DEAD (still his best role) and NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET 2. After FROM A WHISPER he continued small roles and TV appearances until his son won Project Greenlight and put him in all three FEAST films. In a career spanning over fifty years Gulager is an unsung bonafide star, though here he plays an obsessive, caretaker, necrophiliac.
By day he takes care of his invalid sister and works a managerial job to pay her escalating medical costs. He is there for her every whim, even to bathe her in a bath of ice cubes to bring her fever down. By night there is something horrible inside his mind - he dreams of a coworker bound in his basement catering for him sexually while decomposing. When he finally makes his move the coworker begrudgingly goes out for a drink with him, and at the end of the night he strangles her. At her wake after everyone has left he makes love to her corpse. He goes back home and stabs his sister in the back and drowns her in the tub. And while relaxing with a beer, something enters the house. He finds out it is a mutated child borne from the dead coworker after he defiled her. One word summation: NICE!
The other three stories do not live up to this one as I said. The second one is a greedy man who is shot and nearly dies when a voodoo priest heals him. After he's healed the greedy man wants the elixir to life he believes the priest has - so he tries to kill him for it - only to realize he had the elixir running through his veins the whole time and would live for another seventy years. The catch is after he learns this about himself he's already pissed off voodoo guy and knowing Mr. Greedy can't die the priest sets him on fire and amputates his leg and arm so he'll have to suffer in pain for another seventy years. Not to bad, but by far not too good either.
Story Three is pretty forgettable, its a love story with circus freaks who are bound to their benefactor. If they leave they die. One tries to leave with his girlfriend and guess what, he dies.
RATING: -/V (is there a roman numeral for zero?)
The last tale is great, it involves the end of the Civil War and soldiers returning home over the war torn landscape. Our soldiers are bastards, they've decided to rape and pillage their way home - so we don't feel sorry for them or the horrors that proceed. They make their way to a destroyed town (the cursed town) only to find that all the adults have been killed and the children are the rulers now. Any adult is seen as an enemy, and these are soldiers from the north - so especially villainous. There's kid killing, adult killing by kids, a mummified sculpture of all the dead parents of the town pieced together, a soldier bonfire, and an interesting game of pin the amputated limb to the torso. Wonderful!
Finally the piece ends with Price dying, but before that we are given this quote: "Lovecraft and Poe, I'll drink to those masters of horror."
OVERALL RATING: III/V
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