Macabre Movie Mausoleum: VHS

Spring is here my faithful gravediggers and undertakers. The birds are chirping, the sun is shining, the grave grass is growing in, people are smiling more, it truly is a horrible time of year. However, that doesn’t stop slashers and monsters, so that won’t stop the good doctor from delivering another entry into the Macabre Movie Mausoleum

Anthology movies are difficult to review, and even worse to give a single overall rating to, but they are some of my favorite movies to watch, so I will be doing more reviews for them starting right now.

V/H/S (2012)

Directors: Adam Wingard, David Bruckner, Ti West, Glenn McQuaid, Joe Swanberg, & Radio Silence Productions

Starring: Calvin Reeder, Hannah Fierman, Joe Swanberg, Norma C Quinones, Helen Rogers, and Chad Villella

The movie starts off with the requisite framing sequence. In this case we’re kind of introduced to a group of… criminals? Hooligans? Delinquents? Not sure exactly what they are, but I say ‘kind of’ because I don’t think we’re given any of their names or any real defining traits except that one of them tried recording himself having sex with a girl, who was upset when she discovered the camera, but not enough to walk away from it before she put on her clothes.

In any case, we learn through some clunky dialogue that they have been hired to steal a V/H/S from some guy. Shortly after they break into his home to find the guy dead in front of several TVs all showing static. One of the thieves stays in the room and watches a tape that was in the VCR.

Amateur Night

Three friends plan on making an amateur sex tape in hopes of selling it for a decent payout. One of the friends, Clint, has glasses with a built in camera and microphone for the voyeur video. After the three guys bring two girls back to their motel room, they try and initiate intimacy, but unfortunately, one of the females passes out, and Shane is wisely advised not to keep going. Clint and the woman he brought back, Lily, look to begin, but Clint seems to have doubts about recording it. Shane takes over is apparently oblivious that the awkward Lily has grown scales on parts of her body. She apparently attempts to instigate a threesome with Clint, but when Patrick decides to join the ‘party’ she refuses, and Clint once again walks away into the bathroom. Shortly after a nude Patrick bursts into the bathroom, naked and bleeding from the hand, saying that she bit him. They check on Shane to find she’s eating him alive. Lily turns her attention to Patrick, and Clint flees the room. We see that Lily has grown more monstrous with fangs and more disfigurements across her body. Clint, in his underwear, is finding it difficult to find help from anyone, and tries escaping on foot.

Lily catches up to him and she’s even further transformed away from human into something else entirely. It’s a cool design, I wish we got to see more of. Upset that she was rejected by the one of the three that she liked, Lily attacks Clint, flying him high into the air with her newly-grown wings, before dropping him to his death.  

Possibly my favorite of the bunch, this segment did the job of gaining my interest and making me want to know more. The reason for the shakey cam, while deplorable, made sense. Although you may not agree with the morality of the characters in the story, the segment did tell a complete tale.

Rating: 4 = Tombstone

Second Honeymoon

I can’t recall how long this feature was, but it was too long. Sam and Stephanie are on their second honeymoon in Arizona, we get the feeling that this is an attempt to save the marriage, but details aren’t really given. Stephanie receives a fortune from a mechanical teller that she’ll be reunited with an ex-lover, and Sam rightfully dismisses this. Sam doesn’t know he’s in a horror movie.

The couple moves on and later that day, Sam turns away a female drifter, they visit different attractions, and finally at night, a stranger breaks into their motel room, and while using their camcorder, steals money from Sam’s wallet, and caresses Stephanie’s rear with a switchblade.

The following day, Sam accuses Stephanie of stealing his money, but she thinks he’s joking. Later that night, their room is broken into again, and the stranger records themselves stabbing Sam in the neck and watching him die. It is revealed (unshockingly) that this is the ex-lover that the teller foretold. A little surprising was the revelation that the ex-lover was the woman that Sam turned away the day or two before.

I don’t know which was meant to be more shocking, the fact that the ex-lover was a female, or that the killer was, but neither was impressive, and that about sums up the entire segment, “unimpressive”

Rating: 1 = Unmarked Grave

Tuesday the 17th

I should make it clear at this point that I have not seen any of the sequels to this movie, and they may very well address my issues with this segment, but as it stands, this is proof positive of wasted potential.

Three close friends and one newcomer go on a camping trip in the woods. The newcomer, Wendy, tells stories of how her previous group of friends each had accidental deaths. Samantha and Spider (yes that’s the character’s name) go off to have some alone time, but they’re killed by an obscured figure. Credited as the Glitch, Princess Penelope, I’m sorry I mean the killer’s face is distorted in the video preventing the audience from getting clean shot of its face. This is a cool little trick, that I feel they didn’t capitalize on.

Wendy then exclaims to Joey, the final remaining friend, that she came to these woods with her friends when the Glitch had killed them all, and that she had lured the friends here now to use as bait to kill/capture the Glitch. Joey is the next victim of the Glitch, and Wendy flees through the woods leaving Joey to his fate. The Glitch follows Wendy easily escaping traps that she set for it. The Glitch catches up to her and attacks her. Wendy is able to lure it into one last trap, impaling it on a sharp branch/log.

Thinking she has it defeated, Wendy takes a moment to gloat, before it disappears from her trap, and appears behind her in a tree. It attacks her with her own camera, and takes over her body.

We’ve seen a hundred movies about groups of friends in the woods, and almost all of them being found footage. It may have been a cop-out to have the monster’s face skewed from our vision, but it was effective in this format, and was one of the better things this segment did. Unfortunately, this felt like the intro to a different movie. Again, maybe the sequels addressed this, but as it stands, it feels incomplete.

Rating: 3 = Gravetopper

The Sick Thing That Happened to Emily When She Was Younger

Ugh. Do we have to? I don’t want to write about this, and trust me you don’t want to read about this. I have to? Fine, but don’t say I didn’t warn you.

For me to fully understand what was happening with this segment, I had to actually read the wiki page on the movie. That’s never a good sign. But here we go, rapid fire round. Video chat format, female has bump on arm, doctor/boyfriend says it’ll be fine, random (ultimately unexplained) ghost child enters room, girlfriend goes crazy, bump gets bigger, aliens extract fetus from female, boyfriend was in on it, aliens set up hybrid creation system with boyfriend, boyfriend seen doing same with other females.

You owe me back all of those words I could have used to write something so much more eloquent.

Rating: 1 = Unmarked Grave (because this rating system doesn’t have a zero)

10/31/98

Four friends in various costumes head to a friend’s house for a Halloween party, but end up at the wrong place. Too drunk to care, they decide to have fun where they are, and stumble upon an exorcism in progress. Playfully joining in on the chants of “cast you down” the friends are run off by the angry exorcism-ists. They begin to flee the house, but then decide they should free the female that was being exorcised. As they return to the attic, the house begins experiencing a plethora of paranormal phenomena. They escape with the woman to their car, and drive off, when the car suddenly stalls and locks on train tracks, and the female teleports from the backseat to standing in front of the car walking away from the trapped guys. She disappears in a flock of birds. The boys are nearly killed by an oncoming train, when their doors unlock, and they escape to safety.

This segment was more coherent than the previous, but it didn’t tell a complete story. There are so many holes left unexplained, that it just feels incomplete. And not in the way that you want to see more for answers.

Rating: 2 = Simple Cross

Framing narrative

Between each of the segments we were returned to the criminals in the dead man’s house looking for a specific tape.  One by one they’re knocked off, either by the dead man turned zombie or some other monstrous figure lurking throughout the house. As linking footage goes, this is some of the weaker I’ve seen, mostly because they tried too hard. The simple narrative of thieves looking for a certain tape amongst all these others is a nice way to frame all of the segments. Sure as far as a horror movie goes they’re going to want to do more, but I think in the end they bit off more than they could chew.

Rating: 2 = Simple Cross

Overall average rating…

Mathematically this movie gets a 2.16, but I think realistically it should get a 3 if I were to just rate the entire movie as a whole. I liked the first segment “Amateur Night” and I think “Tuesday the 17th” could have been much better if they also told the story about what happened next, but that’s the nature of anthology films, and the sign of a good segment.

There was no particular actor that stood out as a potential star or worth particular mention, except maybe Lily from the “Amateur Night” because she has a unique look that could do her well in the future. Found footage/shaky cam movies make it easier to get around back actors, but the poor dialogue was painfully obvious in most segments. I’m curious to see if the sequel improved on this franchise, but not curious enough to rush to see it. I’ll get around to it eventually. Until then, stay tuned and enjoy life!

For more from the good doctor, head over to AzarRising

Dean DeFalco

Creator of Websites, editor of content, wearer of vests. This man is said to be "The Jack of All Trades".  Dean has his hands in most parts of the website one way or another. The original incarnation of Geekade, "G33k Life", was Dean's brainchild. While Dean can be found on a number of shows like when he was the former co-host of the Stone Age Gamer Podcast or the current host Vest and Friends or talking about video games on YouTube and Twitch, he is the guy behind the scenes making sure that the site does everything it's supposed to every one else can do their job. There's not a problem he can't solve.....or at least punch and scream at until it doesn't exist anymore.

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