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John’s Horror Corner: V/H/S/99 (2022), a pleasantly surprising horror-comedy horror anthology.

November 12, 2022

MY CALL:  The only theme in this anthology is horror comedy, but it does that quite well. I was pleased with the relatively consistent quality of the horror segments and they covered a nice range of themes, from zombies and urban legends to a ridiculously macabre spin on Nickelodeon game shows. Lots of fun to be had here!

MORE HORROR ANTHOLOGIES: Dead of Night (1945), Black Sabbath (1963), Tales from the Crypt (1972), The Vault of Horror (1973), The Uncanny (1977), Screams of a Winter Night (1979), Creepshow (1982), Twilight Zone: The Movie (1983), Stephen King’s Cat’s Eye (1985), Deadtime Stories (1986), Creepshow 2 (1987), From a Whisper to a Scream (1987; aka The Offspring), After Midnight (1989), Tales from the Crypt Season 1 (1989), Tales from the Darkside: The Movie (1990), Grimm Prairie Tales (1990), The Willies (1990), Two Evil Eyes (1990), Necronomicon: Book of the Dead (1993), Hellraiser: Bloodline (1996), Campfire Tales (1997), Dark Tales of Japan (2004), 3 Extremes (2004), Creepshow 3 (2006), Trick ‘r Treat (2007), Chillerama (2011), Little Deaths (2011), V/H/S (2012), The Theater Bizarre (2012), The ABCs of Death (2013), V/H/S 2 (2013), All Hallows’ Eve (2013), The Profane Exhibit (2013), The ABCs of Death 2 (2014), V/H/S Viral (2014), Southbound (2015), Tales of Halloween (2015), A Christmas Horror Story (2015), The ABCs of Death 2.5 (2016), Holidays (2016), Terrified (2017; aka Aterrados, a pseudo-anthology), Oats Studios, Vol. 1 (2017), Ghost Stories (2017), XX (2017), All the Creatures Were Stirring (2018), The Field Guide to Evil (2018), Shudder’s series Creepshow (2019-2021), Scare Package (2019), The Mortuary Collection (2019), Xenophobia (2019) and V/H/S/94 (2021).

After four V/H/S horror anthologies in the last 10 years (2012-2021), a fifth installment has come about to grace anthology fans and this time with a perhaps more playful tone than ever before. In its wraparound story, some kiddishly silly stop motion army figures go to war, which turns out to be much more entertaining than I expected even though the wraparound only strongly linked to one of the anthology segments.

Director Maggie Levin’s opening act is Shredding, about a teen foursome of emo-rock skaters that venture to the underground site where a popular band of four girls were trampled to death by their own fans. They cruelly prank a friend and desecrate the site with a crass reenactment of the trampling death. But they get theirs when the restless zombified spirits of the band peel off their flesh, rip them apart, and then make their own macabre, dead teenager band marionette performance.

There’s a very MTV’s Real World vibe about the documentary-style presentation. It’s a nice throwback complete with VHS snow crackle interference. But, perhaps to protect itself from budgetary limitations on the monster and gore effects, there is a bit too much VHS crackle interfering during the violence. The acting was strong, and clear efforts were made with the gore and monstrous corpse faces, but overall effects-wise this was a somewhat weak segment. Still the macabre humor of the finale marionette visual was quite satisfying, and the horror comedy of this segment was its clear strength, highlight and point.

Director Johannes Roberts (The Other Side of the Door, 47 Meters Down, Strangers: Prey at Night) pledges Suicide Bid, which is when a freshman pledge applies to only one sorority to show her devotion at risk of being admitted to none. Our pledge is taken to the location of an urban legend-like disappearance of a past pledge who was the victim of a cruel prank. As a condition of her acceptance, she must spend the night in a coffin, buried under six feet of earth, just like the girl from the urban legend. What could possibly go wrong? The pledge is, of course, very rattled by this from the very start. And the sorority girls are, well, cruel. They make this experience as scary as possible.

This was excellent. I giggled at the mean girls’ horrible behavior, I reeled for their pledge victim, and things just kept amplifying every few minutes leading to a wonderful screaming finale doused in muddy grave water. Great segment!

Director Flying Lotus (Kuso) presents Ozzy’s Dungeon, which smacks hard of Nickelodeon’s Hidden Temple and Double Dare… if adult stoners were to weird it up. The hokey awkwardness just hurts, and in a funny nostalgic way I wince. Steven Ogg (The Walking Dead, Snowpiercer, He Never Died) does his best Mark Summers as the quippy host and he is a delight!

An unexpected leg break had me cackling, and the revenge story to follow was just as ridiculous as the initial presentation of the show. What transpires is especially uncomfortable. But what you think is the finale, is not! There is an additional level of pure supernatural madness awaiting at the end of this gloriously insane segment. We meet the “Ozzy” at the end of the dungeon and there are wild creature effects and face-melting grossness to be digested.

Tying in from the wraparound story, director Tyler MacIntyre (Tragedy Girls, Patchwork) brings us The Gawkers, which follows a group of high school boys and their perverted voyeur antics assaulting the dignity of their classmates and neighbors. When one of them helps their hot neighbor set up her new webcam, he also installs spyware so they can watch her. Classy. The twist here is that seeing what she turns out to be is a curse all its own.

The teen characters are engagingly amusing little creeps. But this segment might be my least favorite when it comes to CGI, visual effects, creature effects and gore. All of those clock in pretty weak. But the journey of these voyeur teens was an entertaining one. Also, this short features another cool, off-putting and kind of funny limb break.

Directors Vanessa and Joseph Winter (Deadstream) close this anthology strong with To Hell and Back, in which a coven of personable witches plan to summon a minor demon through a willing vessel. Right off the bat, this reminded me of a less silly What We Do in the Shadows (2014) in terms of tone. During the ritual two innocent bystanders are sent to Hell where they encounter fiends and denizens of Hell, and must figure out how to get back home. The atmosphere is deliciously silly, and remains very light and funny even when passing by piles of guts, hungry devils, or a corpse on a spit over a fire. If you saw Deadstream (2022), that’s the tone here.

We have horny peeping Tom teenagers, a sorority pledge week prank gone horribly wrong, oddly violent Nickelodeon nostalgia, a demon summoning ritual, a guided tour of Hell, and a teen prank leading us to such spoils as an urban legend revenge ghost, a classic Greek Gorgon, witches and devils, a variety of mutants and fiends, and some sort of zombie-ish revenants. Although I prefer my anthologies to have more cohesively linked stories (e.g., The Mortuary Collection, Trick ‘r Treat) or richer stories to tell with clever twists, themes or moral spins (e.g., Terrified, Holidays), this anthology still manages to deliver the goods in the form of consistent, fun-spirited horror comedy.

3 Comments leave one →
  1. November 14, 2022 9:32 am

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts on this one. Sounds like it will be a lot of fun. Adding to my watchlist, something I wouldn’t have done without this. Thank you.

    • John Leavengood permalink
      November 14, 2022 3:34 pm

      I’ll say, I was glad a I read it was all horror comedy before viewing it. Otherwise, I expect I would have liked it less. I just would have been in a different mood.

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