Ratings Key

= Excellent. The best the genre has to offer.
1/2 = Very Good. Perhaps not "perfect," but undoubtedly a must-see.
★★★ = Good. Accomplishes what it sets out to do and does it well.
★★1/2 = Fair. Clearly flawed and nothing spectacular, but competently made. OK entertainment.
★★ = Mediocre. Either highly uneven or by-the-numbers and uninspired.
1/2 = Bad. Very little to recommend.
= Very Bad. An absolute chore to sit through.
NO STARS! = Abysmal. Unwatchable dreck that isn't even bad-movie amusing.
SBIG = So Bad It's Good. Technically awful movies with massive entertainment value.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

CreepTales (1989)

Directed by:
Tim Boxell
Stephen Hegyes
Ken Mandel
Greg Middleton
Roger Nygard
James Salisbury
Rod Slane

Here's a horror anthology you may have missed. The title, of course, is clearly meant to allude to another anthology hit directed by some guy you may have heard of named George A. Romero. While all five tales contained within Mr. Romero's CREEPSHOW (1982) were lensed specifically for that film, here the director (Mandel) has gathered together six short films from other filmmakers and shot a silly framing device to tie them all together. In the linking scenes, a couple of retarded-acting hunchbacks (played by writer / producers Michael Minton and Jess Sherman) stop by a video store on Halloween night to pick up a copy of a horror movie called "CreepTales," but the owner has just closed shop. They go to a graveyard, dig up the corpse of their undead Uncle Munger (Tim Choate) and steal his copy of "CreepTales" (which he was buried with) instead. They then go to a party full of mutants and monsters, scarf down popcorn and chips, scare off some pizza delivery guys and watch the movie, while Uncle Munger rises from the grave and heads toward the party.

"Warped" (by Nygard) is one of the longest segments and begins with a flash-forward of a woman driving after another woman and chasing her with a pitchfork. Pretty blonde Elizabeth (Jennifer Barlow) has just spent a few months at an insane asylum after suffering from an emotional breakdown. To recover, she goes to stay at a farmhouse with her homely spinster cousin Viola (Frances Marshall-Labyorteaux) and senile, elderly old Aunt Grace (Kay Bonner Nee). Elizabeth finds Viola's diary, which details her getting pregnant as a teenager and her father forcing her to wear a corset, which resulted in her baby being stillborn. Elizabeth goes to explore the locked attic, gets into a fight with Viola, is knocked out with a vase and is tied up in bed. A sheriff who weighs at least 500 pounds eventually stops by. Viola stabs him but it takes a half dozen shots to put him out. There are flashbacks and family secrets involving rape, incest and suicide come forth. This short was also released as part of the 1990 anthology TALES OF THE UNKNOWN.

"Snatcher" (by Boxell) is about a purse snatcher (Tom Kenny, who'd go on to become a stand up comedian and is best known as the voice of Spongebob Squarepants) who picks the wrong purse to steal (it's some kind of monster). It runs about ten minutes, half of which is a purse stealing montage set to some punk song called The House of Skulls. With J. Renee Gilbert (THE DEVIL'S GIFT). "The Closet" (by Hegyel and Middleton) runs just a couple of minutes and is pretty useless. It's the old kid thinks there's a monster in his closet chestnut, which has been filmed numerous other times and all probably better than this one. Salisbury's "Groovy Ghoulie Garage" is up next and it's a pretty fun story. On Halloween night, friends Marvin (Peter Ortell) and Ed (Christopher Prestia) decide to go pick up his sister after she's kicked out of school. They stop by a diner where everyone warns them to stay away from a small town called Tower Springs. Unfortunately, their car breaks down and they're picked up by a truck driver dressed like a clown who ends up taking them to, you guessed it, Tower Springs. While ghoulish garage mechanic Rob Ghoulie (Todd Toon, an award-winning sound editor) works on their car, the guys borrow Fred Flintstone and Popeye the Sailor Man masks and go to a neighborhood party. There, a 60s style garage rock band plays and people seem a little on the dated side. The twist was swiped from TWO-THOUSAND MANIACS! (1964).

The basically worthless "Howling Nightmare" (from "Steve Hegyi," who I'm assuming is the same guy who did "The Closet" segment) is up next. This one involves a posse of hunters headed out into the woods at night to hunt down a man in a rubber werewolf mask. There's a ripped out throat, a cheesy wolf costume and the acting is terrible. Thankfully, things end on a high note with Slane's amusing, imaginative "Sucker" (easily the best of the stories). Frumpy housewife Dora Duffy (Melanie Fry) lives in a pig sty of a home with who she claims to be a terrible and abusive husband named Roy (Greg Roach). At midnight, there's a knock on her door. Thinking it's her husband, she goes downstairs to find bespeckled, fast-talking vacuum salesman Feldon Broom (Bill Orton) at her doorstep. He offers to leave her a powerful "Dirt Demon" mini-vac that she can use for 24 hours to clean up her life. The vacuum has the miraculous ability to clean everything. Just point and shoot and trash disappears, drapes are cleaned, blankets are folded, dishes are washed, etc. He tells her he'll be back the next evening to pick it up, but warns her to not use the vacuum for longer than 30 seconds at a time and to never, ever point it at another person. So what'll happen when Roy finally comes home? This segment has a great performance from Orton, as well as a good twist at the end.

Some of the directors went on to do other things. Boxell made the entertaining killer gecko flick ABERRATION (1997), Hegyes became a successful producer (WHITE NOISE and it's sequel are among his credits), Mandel directed documentaries on blues music, polio and artist Frida Kahlo and Nygard made the successful Star Trek documentary TREKKIES and is a prolific filmmaker and editor. Slane had previously done music for a few early shot-on-video hits; BLOOD CULT (1985) and FOREVER EVIL (1987) among them. Forrest J. Ackerman received a creative consultant credit here, as well.

CreepTales was not very well distributed on VHS, despite not being too bad overall. That was remedied by a 2004 DVD release through BCI/Eclipse. The film (which was in production from 1986-1989) is erroneously listed as a 2004 title on IMDb.


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