George A. Romero’s anthology of eccentric and macabre stories, written by the horror maestro, Stephen King, is a roller-coaster of quality, peaking with a revenge plot involving Leslie Nielson and Ted Danson and plummeting during a hillbilly sci-fi episode starring Mr. King himself.
The production value on the film is surprisingly shlock-y and is certainly a low-budget product of the times. The skits are more like cast-offs from Tales From the Crypt, and perhaps could have benefited from an occasional interlude from the Crypt Keeper, himself.
It starts with a young boy being chastised by his father for reading horror comics. The film seemingly brings these comic panels to life and, undoubtedly, the resulting skits resemble images splashed on comic book pages. Episodes include a tale about a cursed family being picked off by the living corpse of a murdered patriarch, the aforementioned revenge yarn, the atrocious skit featuring a dumb hillbilly played comically bad by Stephen King, a lengthy tale about an ancient creature in a crate wreaking havoc on Adrienne Barbeau and Hal Holbrook, and then the last bit featuring a senile scrooge with a mean streak and a bug problem.
I won’t say the movie is bad, but there are some bits that should have ended up at the bottom of a flaming dumpster. The episode in the middle of the film about a slighted husband seeking revenge on his cheating wife and her lover is diabolically wonderful. Leslie Nielson is perfectly sadistic as the man exacting a psychotic revenge plan on Ted Danson and his wife. The resolution of the story isn’t handled particularly well, but it’s still a mostly satisfying horror tale. I could have watched an entire movie about this particular story and it certainly is the pinnacle of this film.
I know there are sequels in this series, but I think 1 is enough for me. It’s a shame because horror anthologies can truly shine when done well. This film isn’t bad, it just doesn’t leave you wanting more.