Friday, 17 August 2012
THE THEATRE BIZARRE ***½
This was one of two horror anthologies (the lacklustre CHILLERAMA was the other) which I was gutted to miss at FrightFest 2011 due to their twilight screening hour and my need to catch the last train home.
Having finally caught up with THE THEATRE BIZARRE its some way short of previous FrightFest fave TRICK 'R TREAT but a welcome addition to the modern portmanteau horror film nonetheless.
The film is bookended by an effective wraparound story revolving around a silent female spectator drawn into an abandoned and eerily strange cinema - the titular 'Theatre Bizarre' - where upon genre icon Udo Kier acts as our guide introducing each of the film's five tales (Mother of Toads, I Love You, Wet Dreams, The Accident, Vision Stains and Sweets).
Like most omnibus films not all the stories work and are of varying quality in terms of directing, photography, acting, effects, plot etc. First up we have 'Mother of Toads' - perhaps only notable for having Fulci 'scream queen' Catriona MacColl hamming it up as a French Lovecraftian crack-pot. Things soon improve - particularly in the writing and acting department - with 'I Love You'. Bleak it may be but full of memorable darkly heart-breaking dialogue. 'Wet Dreams' serves up Tom Savini as a shrink and his customary gore effects abound.
The tone shifts dramatically for 'The Accident' and director Douglas Buck executes a simple thematic idea in a genuinely affecting way - surely the epitome of what a 10-15 minute short film component of a horror anthology should do.
Then 'Vision Stains' starts strong but fails to fulfil its potential, particularly in the segment's climatic scene. Closing the anthology is the delightfully demented 'Sweets' which along with 'Wet Dreams' perhaps best personifies the 'Grand Guignol' antics THE THEATRE BIZARRE is so keen to evoke.
The Count's Verdict: Not a threat to TRICK 'R TREAT's crown as the best of contemporary anthology horror films but an interesting diversion all the same. Worth seeing for 'The Accident' story alone which is damn near perfect.