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May 5, 2011

Movie Review: Drive-In Horrorshow (2009)

I like a good horror anthology. Well done short horror films can be very intense and very scary or funny or gory or whatever you need them to be. Get in quick, shock ‘em  and then get out. Anthology television shows like The Twilight Zone, Night Gallery and Tales from the Crypt did it very well. In feature film land, we had Creepshow… and that’s about it (I’m sure there are others, but I’m drawing a blank). When we get to features, though, there are most definitely more attempts at the anthology format and people tend to do it for all the wrong reasons. We all know that it is easier to talk about making a film than actually making a film. It would then stand to reason that it is easier to make a short film than a feature length film. Couple of days, get some friends, don’t put too much thought into it and, bango, in a few months you’ve got yourself a feature anthology. That’s the problem here, and the problem with most horror anthologies: you have to take as much care and dedication with an anthology film than you would with narrative feature… even more. Pulling all the disparate elements together, creating a weaving story to pull some kind of uniformity about and keeping up the integrity, and quality, throughout each separate story is very hard. That is why most anthologies fail. Drive-In Horror Show fell into a few of the familiar traps, but showed some elements that, sort of, let it pull away from the pack a bit. To be honest, that pack is a rutting group of cannibalistic warthogs, but it is a pack nonetheless.

Pre-order Drive-In Horrorshow at Brain Damage Films!

Drive-In Horrorshow, available from Brain Damage Films, consists of five stories and a wrap around story set at a double post-apocalyptic drive-in. Apparently, the world has been destroyed… twice, via nuclear Armageddon. The only creatures still left around include The Projectionist (Luis Negron), a classic horror TV show host-type who has employed other mutated folks (like Teenage Axe Victim at the concessions, Zombie Frank taking tickets, etc.). At this drive-in, they show short horror films written and directed by Michael Neel and Greg Ansin. Therein we have the issue, but more on that later. The five films shown include:

  • The Pig – A sorority girl gets her revenge on a fraternity guy after a rufie-filled evening.
  • The Closet – A little kid, who is a really bad actor, convinces the monster in his closet to kill his family, who are worse actors.
  • Fall Apart – A doctor with a heart of gold catches a rapidly flesh-eating disease from a homeless patient and rapidly flesh is eaten.
  • The Watcher – Jen Morasca (of Survivor fame) and her friends are stalked and killed by a weirdo in the woods
  • Meat Man – Two young brothers convince themselves that their father is the urban legend killer The Meat Man.
So, there you have it. The real issue here is the pacing and the story construction. I alluded earlier to Messrs. Neel and Ansin being responsible for the writing, directing, producing, cameo-ing, editing and shooting. As shooters¸ these guys really had some inspired camera work. The shot composition was very well done and they were lit well, for the most part. The pacing really brought this down. I mean, I expected hokey special effects and poor acting, that is just part of the game, but that can be overcome with clever writing and a good edit. Neither of which appear here. Each of these stories meander and take a very long time to get to the point… when they have a point. This is compounded by an edit that just doesn’t know when to get out of the shot. “Get in late, get out early.” That’s an editor’s credo… except these editors. All in all, this would be a fun movie, even though it is an anthology, if you could cut it in half. That would kind of suck, though, since you would have to sit through ten of these movies in order to make it feature length. No thanks.

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