Review: TERROR TALES (2018)

Terror Tales poster

Anthology films have been quite a hot item over the last couple of years. From traditionally formatted ones to those with as many stories as letters of the alphabet, themed and just random collections of stories. From DEAD BY MIDNIGHT (11 PM CENTRAL) to DEAD LIST to LILITH you can’t go far without finding one waiting to be watched. TERROR TALES from Jimmy Lee Combs being the most recent example.

After a not so accidental car accident a psycho known as The Driver (Christopher Showerman, VITALS, ASTRO) forces Michael (J. Giordano) to listen to three stories. If he doesn’t do as he’s told during the ride The Driver will release gas into the trailer they’re pulling, killing his passenger’s family.

The first story “By Proxy” deals with a horror author (Lynn Lowry SHIVERS, HELL’S KITTY) trying to get over the death of her young son. Enter a mysterious spirit that, in the style of A CHRISTMAS CAROL, takes her through her life to reveal the true reason he died.

With some good effects and a well-designed creature, the Ink Demon (Matt Block THE JURASSIC DEAD, RAGE OF THE MUMMY), to support the acting it gets TERROR TALES off to a nice start. Genre fans, however, might notice a bit of similarity to one of the incidents in THE SIXTH SENSE.

Demon with Ink Effect 1

“’Radical Video” is a homage to video stores, the early days of S.O.V. backyard epics and the original “video nasties”. Detective Ray Stevens (Brett Shafer) is tracking down a serial killer known as The Sledgehammer (Jonathan Tiersten SLEEPAWAY CAMP). Naturally he’s named for his weapon of choice. Just what is his connection to Radical Video?

With a look that does a great job of recreating the 80s and some appropriately nasty practical gore effects from Kevon Ward this is the best of the three segments and would probably do well as a feature.

Yan Birch as Satan 1 with Logo

TERROR TALES last segment “Epidemic” is a tale of demonic possession with roots going back to the Salem witch trials. Pastor James Douglas (Tom Fears) falls afoul of a demon (Yan Birch, BETRAYED, THE PEOPLE UNDER THE STAIRS) who can jump from body to body.

There are some nice effects and a well-done demon, but the episode suffers from being hard to follow at times.

The wraparound ends on a fairly predictable note, but it’s not a totally unsatisfying one either. Which is actually a good way too sum up TERROR TALES as a whole. The stories aren’t anything groundbreaking plotwise. They are done well though and certainly deliver the goods on an obviously low budget.

Terror Tales 8

Writer\director Combs is obviously a fan of the genre. His stories pay homage to various other films, both well known and fairly obscure such as VIDEO VIOLENCE and SLEDGEHAMMER. The cast also shows his love of the genre. Apart from those already mentioned, there are appearances from Laurene Landon (MANIAC COP), Jennifer Runyon (TO ALL A GOODNIGHT, GHOSTBUSTERS), Ari Lehmann (FRIDAY THE 13th, THE BARN), Felissa Rose (SLEEPAWAY CAMP, UGLY SWEATER PARTY), and Helen Udy (MY BLOODY VALENTINE, FIRST HOUSE ON THE HILL)

On the downside, TERROR TALES runs to long at 120 minutes. It never really drags but could use a good trimming.

High Octane Pictures will release TERROR TALES to VOD on January 8th and DVD on February 5th.

Jim Morazzini

Movie buff, gym rat and crazy cat guy

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