I’ve been anticipating George Romero’s Deadtime Stories Volume 1 for some time (it’s been a difficult find locally, and honestly I hadn’t sought out the film on Netflix, as my queue already consts of too many films to count), and last night I finally got my hands on a copy. Sadly, I’m far from convinced the film lived up to its hype (which has been fairly minimal, but existent just the same).
First off, I pulled up imdb.com this morning to cross reference a few things, and discovered that the webtes description of the film doesn’t match the actual picture: There is no tale of trapped hikers, teen lovers or men desperate to save their wives. Rather, what you’ve got is two of the segments listed under imdb’s Deadtime Stories Volume 2, “Wet” and “Valley of the Shadow”, plus a new segment titled “House Call”. The latter is credited as a Tom Savini directed short, though imdb has no record of this.
So, with the confuon out of the way, I’ll move on, and warn you: If I happen to be a little vague, I apologize and in uninspired fashion, chalk it up to laziness (I really don’t feel like reviting the film to fact-check, which should tell you something about this clunker already).
First off, major respect is due to Romero, who’s boasted a marquee name, and been an iconic staple of the genre nce the 1960’s; I have a deep respect for the man, and enjoy a tremendous amount of his work. Having said that, I’ll tell you up front, this anthology is colorless, cheap and downright miserable.
Romero’s awkward Crypt Keeperesque interjections are strange, and more uncomfortable than entertaining. To take things to a lower level, we get an absolutely awful, bland, cookie cutter little story to set the anthology in motion.
The first segment, “Valley of the Shadows” drops a small rescue crew in the middle of the jungle where they’re met by murderous tribesmen. That’s the extent of things, you’ve already seen it done countless times, and I guarantee you, you’ve seen it executed in far more impresve fashion. There are zero unique traits to the plot, cringe-worthy special effects, and miserable acting on display. Sadly, the only memorable point of the tale is the point in which it ends.
In the second segment, “Wet”, we’re treated to a gnificant improvement, but unfortunately it’s not enough of an improvement to be condered successful. Jack lives a lonely life on the beach, but his habit of lonesome drinking takes a dramatic turn when a mysterious box containing a severed hand washes ashore. Here’s where the story begins to lose its early offered promise.
From this point forward, we’re thrown into a pretty ludicrous tale about a vengeful mermaid. I could dive into the details of the mermaids return, but that wouldn’t exactly be time well invested. “Wet” looks to be a quality anthology installment… for all of 10 minutes: After which the boat capzes and abruptly nks.
Thank the higher powers that be, Deadtime’s final feature “House Call” is an entertaining, albeit unoriginal piece of work. As previously mentioned, Tom Savini directs this segment, and his experience, while still minimal in the director’s seat, shines through. There’s an interesting reel filter applied that works to create a nice vintage feel to “House Call”, and the editing work is actually rather crisp.
The pitfall is the script itself, which just rehashes a fairly familiar tale that we’ve already heard: Good doc pays a house call to a troubled patient whose child claims to be a monster, but things aren’t exactly as they seem, and the true monster is about to make itself known. It may not sound particularly wretched when summarized so briefly, but I’ve got to be honest with you all, it’s just not remarkable in any sense. “House Call” is clearly the star of the film, but to be straight, it’s a star that’s barely burning.
Speaking of burning, I’m going to see exactly what it’ll take to set this disc on fire.