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Deadtime Stories: Volume 1 (2011)

DVD Cover (Millennium Entertainment)
Genres / Traits:
Cannibal Film, Creature Film, Horror, Horror Anthology, Vampire Film, Mermaids
Directors:
Michael Fischa Michael Fischa
Jeff Monahan Jeff Monahan
Tom Savini Tom Savini
Starring:
Tom Gregg Tom Gregg
Jason Hoehnen Jason Hoehnen
Paul Keiserling Paul Keiserling
Angel Lisboa Angel Lisboa
Nick Mancuso Nick Mancuso

4.0 / 10 - Overall Rating

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An anthology of three horror stories presented by George Romero. In "Quota," a pair of young lovers drive to Lovers' Leap, only to be attacked by a mysterious creature. In "Wet," a lonely man finds an empty box on the beach and opens it, with disastrous results. In "Valley of the Shadow," a woman searches for her missing husband in the jungles of South America, only to be in great danger herself. --IMDb
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Review by Chad
Added: July 15, 2011
Deadtime Stories is a movie that I have been looking forward to since the day that it was announced. That day was three or four years ago, and even though I read a couple of not-so-positive reviews for it, my interest never wavered. I mean, it's a horror anthology flick, and considering that I love those movies, this was on my radar based on that premise alone. However, add on to that the fact that it had George Romero's name attached to it, and, well... horror fans will know what that means. So, when I was browsing through Netflix last night and saw that it was now available for streaming, I let out a little squeal of excitement and immediately dropped what I was doing to get started on it. Unfortunately, it was a colossal letdown.

There are three stories to be found in volume one. Each one runs for about twenty minutes, and Romero injects a little bit of Cryptkeeper-like commentary in between them. His segments usually run for about thirty seconds and they are rather cheesy (and not in the Cryptkeeper's "fun cheesy" style - these are just cheesy, period). There is no wraparound story, just Romero delivering lame lines while sitting on a couch. Poor guy.

Valley of the Shadow (directed by Jeff Monahan - no prior directing credits)
The first story revolves around a lady whose husband disappeared in the jungle while he was searching for a fruit that will supposedly allow people to live forever. Naturally, she puts together a team of inept idiots and heads down to see what she can find out about her husband. There, they meet a single cannibal savage. I'm not sure if it was supposed to be a tribe or an army or what, but there was only the one guy - maybe we weren't supposed to notice that because of the makeup, who knows. The cannibal proceeds to pick them off one by one, the main lady discovers what happened to her husband, end story.

The majority of this story plays out like your typical cannibal movie from the seventies and eighties: a group of white people head out into the woods (excuse me, jungle), they encounter a savage (excuse me, savages), they get poked to death with tiny darts (excuse me, viciously dismembered). Those movies were notoriously bad, but they did have a few things going for them to keep their fans interested: lots of gore, lots of nasty death sequences, and sets and characters that allowed you to temporarily believe that maybe, just maybe, this was authentic footage after all (because all of those movies claimed as much). Valley of the Shadow has none of that. The gore is laughably fake, the acting is horrendous, the set looks like the woods down the street from my house, and the savage is obviously a white guy with a nice haircut and trimmed facial hair who happens to be wearing makeup and temporary tattoos. The entire thing is bad, and it's wrapped up with a twist that is downright silly. 1/10.

Wet (directed by Michael Fischa - Death Spa)
Next is the tale of a guy who lives on the beach, where he discovers a jade box containing a mummified hand. He throws the hand in his kitchen drawer and takes the box to the local antiques dealer, where he hopes to make a quick buck. The dealer tells him that this box was used to bury a piece of a mermaid, and whoever finds the box had better get rid of it quick - otherwise, the other pieces of the body will come together, reform the mermaid, and the mermaid will be none too happy with the person who was handling her remains. Naturally, our hero sets out to find the other boxes and the other pieces of the body, and you can probably guess what happens next.

I don't recall too many horror movies dealing with mermaids, so this story gets some points for creativity alone. Even though it may sound silly on paper, the story was very atmospheric once things started rolling, and when you know that the mermaid is in the man's house, well... things get pretty tense. The acting is hammy and the effects used to create the mermaid's body were a little below the standards that I expected, but still, the storytelling kept this one moving along nicely. I wasn't a big fan of the ending and I can't say that it was a perfect story before that due to some pacing problems, but still, it was rather enjoyable. 7/10.

House Call (directed by Tom Savini)
The final story comes to us courtesy of the horror legend himself, Mr. Tom Savini, and it deals with... teen vampires. Shit. Set in the early 1900's, it begins when a mother calls the local doctor to come out to her house to check in on her son, who she has tied down to the bed. You see, her son claims that he is a vampire and has been killing the locals, and if he is allowed to keep running free, he will eventually hurt his own dear mother. Mom doesn't believe that he is a vampire, but she wants the doctor to see if something else is troubling him. The story mainly consists of flashbacks of her son's deeds, and it is wrapped up with a neat twist.

This story was the opposite of Wet, in that I enjoyed the ending but didn't care too much for the majority of the tale. You see, it's technically alright: the acting isn't bad, the effects aren't horrible (far below what I was expecting from something with Savini's name on it though), and the story is decent. It's just average in every way, and if you've seen a single vampire movie in your time, you'll know what to expect. The end twist is creative though, and that is the main reason that I enjoyed this final story as much as I did. I honestly did not see that twist coming, even though it was hinted at throughout the running time. That is how you do a proper twist, and it was downright awesome here. 6/10 for the overall story.

Overall, if you do the math, those three scores round out to a 4.7/10, which honestly sounds about right for the overall film. The first story is downright horrible and has no redeeming values, but the other two stories - though flawed in various ways - are still sort of enjoyable. Neither of them are required viewing for horror fans, but you could do much worse.
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