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Evil Spawn (1987)
"Alien Within" vs. "Evil Spawn"
The original EVIL SPAWN was completed and released in the halcyon days of video, when just about anything that was made could find its way onto product hungry rental shelves and turn a profit for all involved. It is an okay low budget horror item. The revised and revamped ALIEN WITHIN inserts new footage with venerable genre stalwarts Richard Harrison and Gordon Mitchell, and twists the storyline in a different direction. The revised ALIEN WITHIN will be of interest to fans of these veteran actors and Fred Olen Ray. I believe Ray was involved with the original film, and ended up with the rights after some litigation, and elected to make the revisions with new footage. ALIEN WITHIN showed on TV and came out on video from a small outfit, MNTX, which also released Brett McCormick's MACON COUNTY WAR (with Dan Haggerty). I prefer the new version, but that's just my opinion.
Vol 2 Carries on and Adds to the Fun
SCARY TALES 2: THE RETURN OF MR. LONGFELLOW is a nice follow-up to the initial entry in the series, relating the titular character's continuing psychotic urges to regale unwary passersby with homicidal tales of terror. Individual segments are uniformly well plotted, following up on some points left over from the first anthology, but not so much as to render the stories incoherent to someone who has not yet viewed the first. "Charlie's Demons" is a nice twist on the multiple personality theme; "Dennis Frye vs the Zombies" carries on the humorous antics of the lovable loser in a tale that actually occurs prior to the first SCARY TALES; "7:23", although the most predictable of the stories, is also the best, featuring a nice turn by genre veteran Joe Estevez in a remarkably subdued, but effective, performance. And the wraparound segment introduces some new characters to bolster future editions. Robert Z'Dar shows up to add some ironic emphasis to the finale. SCARY TALES 3 is promised at the end, and it will be fun to see how the ubiquitous Mr. Longfellow is revived; although with a sequel that includes a prequel to the original, one wonders if his insanity is expanding or if entropy has begun. Good stuff...all should consider supporting these independent efforts - DVD is available at scarytalesonline.com - Buy, watch and enjoy.
Scary Tales (2001)
Good Psychological Horror Anthology
Just finished viewing the first SCARY TALES disc and it's definitely a thumbs up. Great to see the emphasis on the psychological rather than visceral. The wrap around segment was original; the way the individual segments presented "what if?" looks at the main character's potential future instead of someone simply telling unrelated stories before the denouement. Cassinelli's and Hoffman's stories were ironic with wry humor without straying into camp. Joel Wynkoop (Mr. Longfellow) gives a subdued but effective performance in a role that could have really been over the top. You knew there was something off about the guy, but he fought to keep it under control - until the end, of course. The film has a polished look that is not betrayed by the low budget. And at 78 minutes (including end credits/bloopers) it maintains good pacing. I'm glad they are finally selling this direct through the site, but it deserves a wider distribution. Looking forward to SCARY TALES 2 and Joe Estevez joining the fun.