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John’s Horror Corner: The Theater Bizarre (2011), a fun horror anthology

January 1, 2013

MY CALL:  Looking for a film that has witches, murder, Lovecraftian vaginas, eyeball injections, the Necromonicon, and naked toad monsters?  Well, depending my interpretation of what I saw in the melee of short films here you may be in for all that and more…all be it in small doses.  These short films vary substantially in film, acting, gore, direction and writing quality.  We get to taste a lot of stories and ideas and, if we don’t like one of the shorts after ten minutes, just wait ten more minutes for the next one to start.  If you like anthologies then don’t miss this.  IF YOU LIKE THIS WATCH:  Some other fun, decent and/or clever anthologies include (in order of release date):  Black Sabbath (1963), Tales from the Crypt (1972), The Vault of Horror (1973), Creepshow (1982), Twilight Zone: The Movie (1983), Stephen King’s Cat’s Eye (1985), Creepshow 2 (1987), Tales from the Dark Side: The Movie (1990), Necronomicon: Book of the Dead (1993), Campfire Tales (1997), 3 Extremes (2004), Trick ‘r Treat (2007), Chillerama (2011), Little Deaths (2011), V/H/S (2012), and the upcoming The ABC’s of Death (2012) and The Profane Exhibit (2012 or 2013).

A macabre-marionetted Udo Kier (Mother of Tears, Iron Sky) introduces the six unrelated stories of this anthology.  I have provided an brief overview of each short film along with some opinions.

The Mother of Toads–directed by Richard Stanley (Hardware, The Profane Exhibit)

Wait a sec.  I don’t remember my high school biology so well any more.  How many “breasts” do toads have?

Vacationing in France, an American couple encounter an old lady (Catriona MacCall; The Beyond, City of the Living Dead) selling Lovecraftian earrings who claims to possess the Necronomicon.  This clichéd creepy old lady invites the boyfriend to her uber-occult home in the woods, transforms into a slimy yet hot naked witch (played by a porn star), date rapes him, and turns into a six-breasted toad monster that looks like The Creature from the Black LagoonMY CALL:  I may have spoiled the story, but the wooden acting and blatantly random premise spoil the short film even more.  Though, I must admit I found it entertaining.  You find yourself asking questions like “why would he go to her house?”, “why would he stay in that creepy house when she CLEARLY fancies herself a witch?”, “who would ever accept a drink from someone who owns a Necronomicon!?!”, and finally “the Necronomicon is French!?!”  It’s a TERRIBLE film but a REALLY good laugh.

Of course I’ll have a drink.  You don’t strike me as suspicious at all!

I Love You–directed by Buddy Giovinazzo

Axle’s life is falling apart.  He wakes up on the bathroom floor, has bruises and wounds he can’t explain, he looks awful and his wife is leaving him for another man.  MY CALL:  Pretty much a couple Germans who sort of speak English fluently trying to act in English…just get American or British actors!!!  Making matters worse, this never felt like horror film until the very end, which features some handsome gore.

Wet Dreams–directed by Tom Savini (who did the make-up for loads of stuff)

Donnie has been having some troublingly graphic dreams of castration.  His wife, Carla (Debbie Rochon; Tromaville Scream Queen), is getting tired of it.  MY CALL: We get a few grins from lines like “Lovecraftian vagina” as well as some fine gore which allow us to forgive Tom Savini for forcing us to watch his stillborn attempts to act.  This was really just a shock piece.  But I enjoyed it for the mindless fun that it offered.

The Accident–directed by Douglas Buck (Sisters)

A mother and daughter come upon a fatal accident which provokes questions about death from the young girl.  MY CALL:  This is the only short in this anthology which attempts to send a real message.  Death is addressed gracefully, the acting was decent and the filming and music were done very well.  I have one complaint though:  zero horror.

Vision Stains–directed by Karim Hussain (Ascension)

A woman murders vagrants and “extracts” their final visions as their lives flash before their eyes…literally, with a syringe.  Then she injects the fluid into her own eyes so that she may experience them.  MY CALL: This was clearly the coolest of the short films.  The premise, while loaded with in your face nonsense/non-science, was interesting and the extraction and injection scenes were uniquely hard to watch–not for the feint.  No joke!

Watching this was seriously hard!

Sweets–directed by David Gregory (Plague Town)

Estelle breaks up with her boyfriend Greg in this colorful binge of a film.  MY CALL:  Stylistic, weird and obsessively indulgent, with an art house theater appeal, alternating disgusting and sensual imagery, and a powerful duality.  All in all, a little too strange and sociopathic even for my taste.  Watching this felt like being trapped in the mind of a psychopath; a never ending WTF moment that was equal parts insane and genius.

This was a REALLY interesting mix and should interest horror fans and indie film fans alike.  Some risky production was practiced in some and shockingly good writing emerges here and there.  We get to taste a lot of stories and ideas and, if we don’t like one of the shorts after ten minutes, we just wait ten more minutes for the next one to start.  If you like anthologies then don’t miss this.

Not a good alternate poster.  I swear this anthology is worth it–despite this lousy-ass poster.

38 Comments leave one →
  1. January 1, 2013 12:40 pm

    Hey, I just subscribed and I’m pleased to have done so. Thanks for writing about short films as well. Looking forward to seeing some of these!

    Thanks Reader in Memphis

    Sent from my iPhone

  2. johnleavengood permalink
    January 8, 2013 7:35 am

    Always grateful to find a new reader. I love anthologies and shorts. I’d advise you to find “Rare Exports, Inc.” (2003) and “Rare Exports: The Official Safety Instructions” (2005). These were the short films that influenced the movie Rare Exports: A Christmas Story, which was inferior to the short films which conceived it.


  1. John’s Horror Corner: The ABCs of Death (2013), and a guide to its short films | Movies, Films & Flix
  2. John’s Horror Corner [INDEX] | Movies, Films & Flix
  3. John’s Old School Horror Corner: The Uncanny (1977) | Movies, Films & Flix
  4. John’s Shamefully Bad Horror Corner: Hold Your Breath (2012) | Movies, Films & Flix
  5. John’s Horror Corner: V/H/S 2 (2013), another mixed bag horror anthology that’s worth a look for the adventurous | Movies, Films & Flix
  6. John’s Horror Corner: The Lords of Salem (2013), the softer side of Rob Zombie | Movies, Films & Flix
  7. John’s Horror Corner: Wishmaster (1997), explaining why evil Djinn genie jerks can’t even earn their freedom by granting wishes | Movies, Films & Flix
  8. John’s Horror Corner: ABCs of Death 2 (2014), and a guide to its short films and directors. | Movies, Films & Flix
  9. Tales from the Darkside: The Movie (1990), a great horror anthology featuring mummies, killer black cats and amorous gargoyles. | Movies, Films & Flix
  10. John’s Horror Corner: Tales from the Crypt (1972), a truly classic horror anthology. | Movies, Films & Flix
  11. John’s Horror Corner: The Vault of Horrors (1973), not quite living up to its Tales from the Crypt prequel, but fun nonetheless. | Movies, Films & Flix
  12. V/H/S Viral (2014), another found footage horror anthology with a couple of cool short stories | Movies, Films & Flix
  13. John’s Horror Corner: Creepshow (1982), a classic, campy, nostalgic horror anthology from Stephen King and George Romero! | Movies, Films & Flix
  14. 3 Days until Halloween! October Pick #5: Trick ‘r Treat (2007) | Movies, Films & Flix
  15. John’s Horror Corner: A Christmas Horror Story (2015), a holiday anthology complete with zombie elves, evil spirits and Santa fighting Krampus! | Movies, Films & Flix
  16. John’s Horror Corner: Deadtime Stories (1986), a wonderfully campy horror anthology with diverse effects and dark fairy tales. | Movies, Films & Flix
  17. John’s Horror Corner: Southbound (2015), five linked tales form this decent horror anthology with angels of death and the worst broken leg ever. | Movies, Films & Flix
  18. John’s Horror Corner: Holidays (2016), an excellent horror anthology with some shockingly good horror shorts. | Movies, Films & Flix
  19. John’s Horror Corner: Blair Witch (2016), discussing a divisive franchise whose third installment offered nothing new except LOUD NOISES and a videogame monster. | Movies, Films & Flix
  20. John’s Horror Corner: The ABCs of Death 2.5 (2016), really not the best horror anthology, with a variety of perverted themes. | Movies, Films & Flix
  21. John’s Horror Corner: Necromancer (1988), just sleazy B-movie trash. | Movies, Films & Flix
  22. John’s Horror Corner: Suspiria (1977), Dario Argento’s Italian witch movie about an enchanted ballet academy. | Movies, Films & Flix
  23. John’s Horror Corner: After Midnight (1989), a decent horror anthology. | Movies, Films & Flix
  24. John’s Horror Corner: The Willies (1990), a hokey kid-friendly-ish horror anthology starring Sean Astin. | Movies, Films & Flix
  25. John’s Horror Corner: The Editor (2014), a wonderfully gory and raunchy yet awkwardly written ultra-cheesy horror comedy. | Movies, Films & Flix
  26. John’s Horror Corner: Ghost Stories (2017), a horror anthology for beginners. | Movies, Films & Flix
  27. John’s Horror Corner: The Field Guide to Evil (2018), a horror anthology about folklore and mythology from around the world. | Movies, Films & Flix
  28. John’s Horror Corner: Dark Tales of Japan (2004; aka Suiyô puremia: sekai saikyô J horâ SP Nihon no kowai yoru), passable for a Japanese TV movie horror anthology. | Movies, Films & Flix
  29. Bad Movie Tuesday: Witchcraft II: The Temptress (1989), just boring, boobs and bloodless. | Movies, Films & Flix
  30. John’s Horror Corner: Tales from the Crypt Season 1 (1989), a wonderful horror anthology series that keeps it light. | Movies, Films & Flix
  31. John’s Horror Corner: Necronomicon: Book of the Dead (1993), a Lovecraftian horror anthology loaded with disgusting gore and slimy tentacle monsters. | Movies, Films & Flix
  32. John’s Horror Corner: All Hallow’s Eve (2013), the brutal gory horror anthology that spawned Art the Clown. | Movies, Films & Flix
  33. John’s Horror Corner: Color Out of Space (2019), manic Nic Cage meets the alluring madness of HP Lovecraft (done well for a change). | Movies, Films & Flix
  34. John’s Horror Corner: XX (2017), the horror anthology led by women in horror. | Movies, Films & Flix
  35. John’s Horror Corner: From a Whisper to a Scream (1987; aka The Offspring), a lower budget horror anthology with some zany-gory special effects. | Movies, Films & Flix
  36. John’s Horror Corner: Campfire Tales (1997), an underrated and often forgotten horror anthology with an awesome cast. | Movies, Films & Flix

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