Director – Michael Fischa, Jeff Monahan, Matt Walsh
Cast – Amy Lynn Best, Sam Redford, Barret Hackney, Patrick Jordan, Ian Harding, Larry John Meyers, Liz DuChez, John Romualdi, Amanda Frost, Adrienne Wehr
Release Year – 2011
Reviewed by John of the Dead
Famed horror/zombie maestro George Romero is a name often associated with horror anthologies due to him giving us one of the greatest of all time in his 1982 classic, Creepshow. When word hit that he was “presenting” this anthology, conveniently borrowing the name of a 1986 film that was in fact a ripoff of his very own Creepshow, I figured this would be an enjoyable experience given Romero’s knowledge of the anthology sub-genre and the assurance that he wouldn’t associate his name with total crap, right? Well, now that I’m done laughing let me tell you about just how bad this George Romero “presented” piece is.
This letdown starts off with “Valley of the Shadow”, which follows Angela as she embarks on an expedition funded by a wealthy investor in hopes of finding her husband who disappeared in a secluded jungle three years prior and instead finds something that puts her and her crew in gruesome danger. Next up is “Wet”, which follows a man who comes across an old box containing the remnants of a mermaid, and in failing to heed the warnings of an antique dealer he soon finds that some treasures are better left buried in the sand. The final entry is “Housecall”, centering on Dr. Marsten who late one night receives a phone call from a woman worried about her son’s “condition”, a condition ending with gory results.
Writer Jeff Monahan, a former narcotics officer (interesting…), played a large part in the failure of this piece, starting things off with the pathetic “Valley of the Shadow” – an entry consisting of stupid unlikeable characters, stupid dialogue, and an overall pathetic plot that tried to be serious, tried to be funny, yet failed at both. He fared better with “Wet”, whose mermaid storyline had me engaged given we rarely see horror films involving mermaids, and thankfully enough he played a bit into the lore of mermaids as well. The story was very slow-paced but managed to keep things interesting throughout, but overall this was far from a positive entry in the end due to a strong collapse at the end. “Housecall” was definitely my favorite entry and by far the only one really worth watching. I loved the idea of Dr. Marsten taking a call in the middle of the night and finding a sight he never expected to come across, a child with symptoms indicating vampirism, which was very well-written by Monahan and including a twist ending that I never saw coming and also came as a real shock as well. Had all of the stories been like this one this would have been the film I had hoped for.
Three different directors contributed to this sloppy effort, and much like the stories each one managed to do better and better as the film went on. Michael Fischa was atrocious in his execution of “Valley of the Shadow”, getting piss-poor performances from everyone involved and giving us atrocious direction of the horror involved. This may have been the goriest effort of the film, but that was nowhere near enough to make Fischa worth talking about anymore. Writer Jeff Monahan served as director for “Wet”, and he managed to make things a bit more interesting and threw in good atmosphere and musical score, he ultimately failed to deliver anything worthwhile. Matt Walsh really nailed “Housecall”, giving us a truly creepy effort thanks to awesome atmosphere and superb execution of the horror. This slow-grind developed into a very enjoyable experience whose good execution lead to a shocking twist that I found very much enjoyable, and I applaud Walsh for closing out this film on a positive note despite this flick faring far from a positive rating.
Overall, Deadtime Stories Vol.1 is a huge letdown that falls into the category of waste-of-my-time horror anthologies but sadly comes with George A. Romero’s name attached to it. We do get some reconcilliation in the awesome closing segment “Housecall”, but while this entry stood out from the rest it ultimately was futile in getting this film out of “don’t watch this” status. Not recommended.