FearTASTIC Vault O’FUN #124
My affection for the V/H/S horror anthology series is well documented and prominent throughout my lovely FearTastic vault. Horror anthologies in general are some of my favorite movies in the macabre genre because again (for those who follow these articles, first, THANK YOU, second, this is the 30th time you’ve seen this explanation), the genre lends itself well to short, concise stories meant to both shock and entertain. However, what the V/H/S movies do so well is the constant participation of established and upcoming filmmakers that offer fun and fresh stories throughout the entire series and have moved the horror anthology sub-genre forward in the best kinds of ways.
V/H/S/85 is the sixth (YES, sixth!) installment in the series and although it’s not the first to attribute itself to a specific year, ANY horror fan can agree that the 80s was a critical point (arguably one of the most important) in the genre due to the explosion of VHS direct to video movies which caused a Gold-Rush of flicks that flooded the video stores (for better or worse). So, with that, let’s get into these gems!
Total Copy (Wrap Around Entry)
Director(s): David Bruckner
Writer(s): Evan Dickson
Starring: Jordan Belfi, Miller Tai, Kelli Garner
Like a lot of horror anthology films, the importance of a story that ties everything together is critical for the flow. Is it the MOST important thing? Hell no, but if you don’t have a ghoulish host introducing each tale, then the wrap around plot is a nice way to keep people invested for the next tale. For this entry, they decided to go the documentary route that follows a group of scientists that are studying a sentient being that they named Rory and as Rory evolves, the scientists find themselves in grave danger. Very typical premise of studying a monster but the effects were corny in a wonderful kind of way as Rory evolves throughout the entry, but it did its job well in keeping the audience pumped for the other stories.
Director(s): Mike P. Nelson
Writer(s): Mike P. Nelson
Starring: Alex Galick, Anna Sundberg, Chelsey Grant
A fun entry that ends in a delicious, yet un-satisfying twist. A group of young folks take a trip to the lake when they are suddenly being picked off one by one by a mysterious killer. The practical effects for this entry are chef’s kiss; they captured that great 80s style effect where you know it’s fake but who give a sh*t because the gore and fun factor make the effect a pleasure to watch. My only gripe while watching this entry was the ending because it made me sad to know when it was over. So many questions that needed to be answered would never be answered because again, the entry was over right when the twist was revealed. I mean, at this point, one can make the argument that a full feature can be made with this premise, and I suspect that’s what the writer/director was trying to accomplish so GREAT job, take my money already and make a full-length feature of this story so I can stop feeling so empty inside…err, wait, I mean…yeah, make the movie.
God of Death
Director(s): Gigi Saul Guerrero
Writer(s): Gigi Saul Guerrero
Starring: Gabriela Roel, Ari Gallegos
The “shaky” camera POV entry in the series, this story follows a Mexican news crew as the 1985 Mexico City Earthquake (real thing, I looked it up) was in full swing. What’s cool about this entry is that it tied a real-life natural disaster event to the story to the revelation that a demon God of death (per the title) was the real cause of the quake. I probably would have appreciated this entry much more if I knew about the earthquake beforehand, but it was a fun entry with a nice reveal of the God itself and still incorporates the lovely practical effects expected from an 80s themed flick.
Director(s): Natasha Kermani
Writer(s): Zoe Cooper
Starring: Chivonne Michelle
Major “Lawnmower Man” vibes with this entry based on the effects which was quite enjoyable. This entry takes the audience to the digital world, and by digital, I mean what we considered to be 3D back in the 80s – 90s shown in so many movies as always blocky, neon and mostly in darkness (you know, to really bring out the neon of everything lol). Even the get up that the main character wears to enter the digital plane is something out of a wonderfully terrible Sci-Fi movie involving computers and by the time they get into the digital world, you’re sort of laughing at the premise already but in a way that you’re still enjoying the story. Although, SUPER predictable in how it ends, the lack of polish or detail in the digital monster/God was fun to watch, if anything super nostalgic!
Director(s): Mike P. Nelson
Writer(s): Mike P. Nelson
Starring: Evie Bair, Mike Lester
Alriiiiiiiiggght so this entry did something that caught me by surprise (like the genuine kind) by being a companion piece of a previous entry in the SAME movie! This is the spiritual sibling to the first entry, “No Wake” that we previously discussed (scroll up mate). Already, this was a bitchin’ way to keep the story going, although I still argue that “No Wake” deserves its own damn movie based on the ending! For this entry, you get to see the other side of the events from “No Wake” where we get some answers on the who and why of the events that transpired in the first entry along with a nice little follow up to what happened to those responsible for the carnage. It was a fantastic way to give more depth to an overall story that again, probably deserves its own full-length movie and I suspect this was done by design so DAMN YOU Mike P. Nelson for burrowing your fantastical ideas into my skull! Take my money already and make the damn movie!
Director(s): Scott Derrickson
Writer(s): Scott Derrickson and C. Robert Cargill
Starring: James Ransone, Freddy Rodriguez, Dashiell Derrickson
My favorite entry in this series, they saved the best tale for last centering on an investigation into a string of grisly murders that are somehow linked to VHS tapes that seemingly tell the future. The story has everything you want in a horror short with some unsettling visuals, an exciting story line with twists and some solid performances from the actors. There is even a wonderful Easter egg in this short that confirms that this story takes place in the same universe as the ultra-successful horror gem, “The Black Phone.” This becomes clearly apparent as the short goes on with the storyline having the same exciting sensibilities as “The Black Phone” which is a testament to the talent of its writer/director, Scott Derrickson. The visuals of the entry were very entertaining since it jumped back and forth between the killer’s POV and the main story line via police station confession room. The twists that come with the story line were very tasty, but the best part of this entry was that it felt that it was intended to be a short. As I’ve stated in some of the other entries in this flick, I believe the intention was to make a full-length movie and these shorts were treated more like an appetizer for a test audience to see the reaction in order to justify a full-length flick. However, this entry truly felt like the intention was to be fast, furious, and impactful and it effortlessly NAILED all three aspects!
Overall, another SOLID entry in thriving horror anthology series. I’m so ecstatic that an anthology series is reaching numbers that are usually reserved for slasher flicks. We are on the sixth entry already and I’m sure with the backing of the SUPERB Shudder Horror streaming app (make the check out now please), I’m looking forward to more Horror gems!
Life is FAR more interesting when we take interest in things that scare us.