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*** This review may contain spoilers ***
NOTE: There are some spoilers in this, so those that have not seen it will probably only wish to read the first and last paragraphs. I imagine, however, that only the people who have seen the film are going to be visiting this particular title.
I can just imagine a film teacher gathering the assignments of his students, sorting, selecting, and discarding the projects. He giggles in his dusty, cluttered office when an idea comes to his head: "Why not combine some of these films, sucker a video distributor to buy them, and make a few bucks? Who cares if they are junk?" Okay, that might not be what happened, but something has to account for this group of four short films, most or all are student-made films. None seem to have a real budget, and none are very enjoyable in the slightest. They are sloppily edited together, with someone deciding they needed to be connected with scenes from the last film and the heading "Next on 'Tales of the Unknown..." and with the title of the next film on the bottom. Thing is, the opening of each film already has the title, making the pre-title look ridiculously cheesy. There is no attempt to tie them together, as with such anthology films like "Twists of Terror," "Grim Prairie Tales," and "Campfire Tales."
TALE #1: The first tale is about Jack, an insurance man, who knocks down a woman to catch an elevator. When he gets inside it and the doors close, Death, in the form of a man, is there. Death tells Jack that he really was there to take the life of the woman Jack knocked down, but Jack will have to do. This scene, in which the elevator starts to plummet, is a good one. At first I thought this could be a gem of a low budget film, but, alas, it was all downhill from there. Jack makes a deal with Death: If he kills the woman by midnight, his life is safe. That doesn't really make sense, since Death was only going to take Jack because he was low on time. Anyway, Jack sets up a date with the woman and then makes a few attempts to kill her to save his own neck. I almost like this tale, but not quite. It is too short for its own good, and the ending needed something more.
TALE #2: During this tale, I kept trying to wonder why the story, though I have read good ones with similar plots before, was so lame. I came to the conclusion that it was ultimately the direction. There could have been some great shock value in it, but it was avoided and replaced with nothing. A man is driving on a highway in the middle of nowhere when his car breaks down. There is a sign indicating a "big garage" in a nearby town, and he goes to a phone and cars them. They tow his car and give him a ride. The man soon finds something eerie about the town. No one's car seems to ever get fixed. No one can make calls out of town. No one can even get out of the town. His efforts to get his car back are stupid, and what happens in the end is laughable and will not be revealed by me. "Oh well," I thought. "Every anthology is bound to have a bad one." One? No way.
TALE #3: This is by far the worst of the lot. There is almost zero dialogue, it has virtually zero direction and written with zero gusto, and it makes absolutely zero sense. All this combines to generate zero interest. Joe has a problem. Every so often, all televisions suddenly show what he is doing at the current time. It bugs people and upsets him, too. That is it. With no dialogue, it couldn't be much more. There is a point in this one that you start to wonder if this wasn't some inspiration for the brilliant "The Truman Show," but I can't imagine anyone smart enough to write that movie even watching this mess, let alone being inspired by it.
TALE #4: The people who put these films together were obviously most impressed by this tale, possibly because it is the only one to fire a gun, crash a car, or show any blood. It is also the only one in which the filmmakers took the time themselves to add opening and closing credits. That, unfortunately, looks strange since the other three don't have them until the entire collection is over. A woman just out of a mental hospital visits her sheltered cousin. It doesn't take long (five minutes film time) for her cousin to become hostile toward her to the point of violence due to a mental link to a past incident in her life. It may have the largest "budget," but it is also disappointing with its silly writing.
While it may seem enticing for film students to have their work put to video, the work should at least be good first. There is just no logical excuse to embarrass the filmmakers with their own messes. Greg Beeman, director of the first and best tale, seems to be the only one to escape this and keep directing. And is it no wonder? With film teachers like the one that must have put this together, it's a mystery that Hollywood has any directors at all. Zantara's score: 1 of 10.
The 4 stories are well produced, the acting is okay and the plots are interesting enough to keep you watching, the best tale is "warped" which is the last one, the other three tales are ok. Isay if you are like me and already went through the entire horror shelf rent it.
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