You never know quite what to expect from the folks at World Wide Multi Media. They’re a great company in the sense that they give a voice to the (literally) unknown filmmaker. The problem with this? There are times when people’s voice aren’t ready to be heard. Nevertheless, upon receiving a package with copies of Treasure Chest Of Horrors and Theatre Of The Deranged in it, I considered myself optimistic. Then, I read the liner notes.
Okay, I have nothing against Shawn C. Phillips. At all. In fact, I find him quite entertaining. He’s been spotted in every goddamn low budget flick that’s come out over the last few years. Cool. Would this constitute referring to him as a “horror legend”? NO. Absolutely not. If you’re intending to do so as a marketing ploy, then I’d reckon you’re not digging deep enough into that bag o’ tricks. Like I said, I have nothing against the guy, but he’s CERTAINLY not a horror legend. He’s been in a lot of B movies…it ends there. I’d bet if you asked him, he’d agree that he’s not a legend of any sort but rather a guy who loves movies and has had a great amount of good fortune by participating in several. So, knowing that this is the type of thing I was getting myself into, I shook out the stiffness and dove straight in. These were the results…
THEATRE OF THE DERANGED: Writer/Director/Producer James Cullen Bressack has sent me more emails than anyone I’ve ever encountered. He’s diligent in his efforts to keep media outlets informed on what he’s doing. Upon receiving TOTD, I wasn’t exactly surprised. I’d known the guy had stuff coming down the pike for quite some time. However, I didn’t know what all was going to be involved. TOTD is your standard anthology. It’s narrated by Andy the Arsonist (who should never be in front of a camera again). Andy walks us through 5 short films that that include bloodlust, cannibals, and jealousy and some other weird shit.
Things begin with Shawn Phillips and M. Kelley’s Lust For Blood. It’s humorous and silly…which is what these 2 cut their teeth doing. It’s not particularly well shot and it’s overacted to Ed Wood proportions. But it’s expected! It’s not going to forge any new ground but it’s good for a laugh (seriously…there’s a dancing scene that made me laugh out loud).
Of the 5 shorts in TOTD, there were 2 more that are noteworthy: Bressack’s Speak Easy and Creep Creepersin’s Cannibal Blood Girl. Speak Easy is perhaps the most interesting of the shorts featured. It’s quite short and features a very minimalist style. It’s deadpan dialogue delivery gives it a cool element to take in. The effects are shit (100% expected) but the overall point is made in this tale of jealousy and vengeance. The other, Cannibal Blood Girl, utilizes the old adage “more is more”. Adult film star Sophie Dee plays a porn star (quite a stretch) who’d been raped and murdered. BUUUUUUT, she’s returned as a blood spewing/lactating/pissing/shitting cannibal demon (?) zombie sort of thing…I think. What this short lacks in continuity it makes up for in garish dick swinging. A shitload of fake blood and nudity is SOMEHOW shoved into a very short amount of time. Methinks they knew exactly what they were doing.
As for the other 2 shorts (Bad Dennis and Doll Parts), well, I suppose there isn’t too much that actually distinguishes them from the previous. Still, they’re both very forgettable and in the case of Bad Dennis, confusingly bad. Ever hear actual British people speak and think their accent was fake and shitty? Neither had I, until I saw Bad Dennis. Doll Parts, on the other hand, was not a wash entirely. In fact the ending having a little twist was cool. However, the acting in the first part and the delivery of characters was so mish-mashed and forced, it simply does not work. These weak links caused this whole chain to dismantle.
TREASURE CHEST OF HORRORS: Good lord. This one was rough. The in-between introductory segments were done by Percival Pirate who’s discovered Grandpappy’s hidden treasure chest…of VHS tapes. Yeah. This clusterfuck continues on in the fashion one would assume it to. Of its 4 shorts, 3 were done by the same director (as well as the introductory segments), Dough Waugh. The other, once again, by Shawn Phillips and M. Kelley. This time, they tell the story of a 28 year old who still lives with his parents becoming a vampire. It doesn’t stray too far from their formula. It’s silly, has some very funny moments, and absolutely no budget whatsoever.
As for the other 3 films (all done by a young man named Doug Waugh), there’s really NOT much to say. TCOH starts off with his (Waugh) Rotten Classmates. Bullies pick on a kid who’s drawing(?!) and then he kills them. The end. There’s little to no dialogue and it’s gone in an instance. Waugh also closes out TCOH with a short called Mama It’s A Mannequin. I have to be honest with you, I have no idea what the fuck was going on in this one. It’s a killer mannequin but not…or something? At any rate, it concluded this anthology with such a fizzle, one could compare it to a balloon running out of air.
There is one highlight though of Doug Waugh’s contributions. It’s a flick called Resident Emo. The whole thing is so goddamn absurd, it feels like a Tim & Eric bit. They make fun of “emo” kids (which apparently is what people use to call goth…? I’m not up on the lingo the kids’ use!) but it’s done in a cacophonous manner that involves zombies, half-retarded goth kids, blood, projectile diarrhea, Lloyd Kaufman (he’ll literally do anything), and of course, a dance number involving what else…emo zombies!! It’s truly the only redeeming aspect of TCOH. I am a sucker for toilet humor and Resident Emo has it. If you’ve sought out immature dumb videos on Youtube, then this is in your wheelhouse.
Overall consensus of the 2 “anthologies”? Not good. Lots more negative than positive. It’s not about a lack of budget and it’s certainly not about inexperience as directors. I think our website does a pretty good job of supporting such things, actually. This has more to do with a lack of coherency. An anthology needs a strand of logic to follow and these 2 movies do not have that. There were some entertaining moments to this, but overall, these 2 movies are a mess. As is the case with a lot of indie films, bad audio and lighting plague almost every single one of these shorts (Speak Easy being the major exception). Most of these shorts would be best suited posted online, where the filmmakers could show their buddies and get a good laugh out of it. I would not, however, consider them worthy of being showcased in an anthology. These are beginning films, and yes, you have to start SOMEWHERE but if these filmmakers want to be just that, then they need to put their best foot forward. One would doubt the filmmakers involved consider ANY of these shorts their “best foot”.
Of the cast of cohorts involved, the one person showing the most promise would be the cat behind all of this: James Cullen Bressack. He collectively pooled friends who’ve made films and put together something to showcase their work. Unfortunately, it took attention away from the fact that he made a pretty good short in Speak Easy. By piecing together several sub-par shorts and embedding his, it felt as if he didn’t have as much faith in his own…and he should have! If anything, I would’ve isolated his and featured it, as it was the most interesting and showed the most promise. Honestly, the kid is a one man pimping machine so I have no doubt at all that he’ll keep chipping away and we’ll hear about it.
Anthologies are a fun piece of the horror puzzle. When their are regarded classics like Creepshow or Trilogy of Terror in the past, Trick R’ Treat and The Theatre Bizarre in the present, you’d best come with something bad ass to contribute to the future. Theartre Of The Deranged and Treasure Chest Of Horrors sadly came with nothing to offer.