Drive-In Horrorshow (2009)
Synopsis: The ghoulishly debonair Projectionist is the proprietor of a unique drive-in that caters to zombies, monsters, and other denizens of the netherworld. Tonight, five short films will be screened for this creepy but discerning audience.
Horror anthologies have reflected some of the best aspects of the genre and some of the worst. Much like the short story, vignettes in an anthology film have to be efficient and economical with time but concentrated and satisfying in content. When they are done well, anthology films can showcase the greatness of horror: Dr. Terror’s House of Horrors, Kwaidan, Screams of a Winter Night, Creepshow, Trick ‘r Treat, Three Extremes. While not quite achieving those cinematic heights, director Michael Neel’s Drive-In Horrorshow is an entertaining if uneven entry in the horror anthology genre. Consisting of five short films, Drive-In Horrorshow combines classic frights with contemporary splatter. Starting off with celebratory narration describing the drive in experience (which has extended post apocalypse), we are introduced to the mutated employees that work the decrepit theater. The movie marathon begins with “Pig,” an underwhelming reverse torture nasty as a wronged young woman gets her revenge on a d-bag frat boy. The close up shots of ordinary objects is a horror cliché that has to go, but on the plus side it’s the first time I’ve ever seen someone bound with plumber’s putty, and I have the same shower faucet in my bathroom. Things pick up with the darkly humorous “The Closet,” concerning a put-upon boy who strikes back at his mean family by luring them into his deadly closet. The kid is a good actor and the film plays out as a tribute to Creepshow, especially the infamous “The Crate.” The use of space race dreams and the crushing reality of everyday existence are especially poignant to all horror/sci-fi fans who wish life was more like the movies. “Fall Apart” focuses on a good hearted doctor who makes a house call and is infected with a contagion that rots his body. Though not approaching the over the top artistry of The Incredible Melting Man, this film has some nice gore and the introduction of some sinister Men in Black types keeps things interesting. The best vignette is “The Meat Man,” as an urban legend about a cannibalistic killer hits too close to home for two brothers. The acting, shots, and editing perfectly recreate the thinking processes of pre-teens trying to think through a horrible realization. Unfortunately, the anthology ends with the formulaic “The Watcher,” centering on four dirtbags that go camping and are hunted down by a madman. If the goal was to kill off four unpleasant characters, then this episode succeeded admirably. The interludes between the films displaying the inner workings of the drive in are fun and the effects (a closer look comes in a special feature) are pretty gnarly. The filmmakers certainly understand the value of merchandising as in addition to the DVD, interested consumers can purchase the soundtrack (available in both CD and LP formats) and an accompanying comic book at their web site. Hopefully, they can funnel any profits into a new film that accentuates the positive aspects of Drive-In Horrorshow and leaves the clichés behind.