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DVD Review

DVD cover

George A. Romero Presents Deadtime Stories
Volume 1


Starring: Amy Marsalis, Jeff Monahan and Bingo O’Malley
Lionsgate Home Entertainment
RRP: £12.99
Certificate: 15
Available 03 October 2011

Night of the Living Dead director and established zombie grand master, George A. Romero, presents the first volume of this horror short story anthology. It comprises three unrelated tales, top and tailed by the man himself, with a total running time of 73 minutes.

In Valley of the Shadow, a woman persuades a wealthy businessman to fund an expedition to the jungles of South America. However, there is an ulterior motive as her husband has gone missing in the area. Once there, the group soon becomes aware of being watched by someone or something, and the hunters quickly become the hunted. This is a rather messy one, in terms of structure. It spends more time with the woman attempting to attain permission for the trip than it does actually explaining the origins and motives of the aggressor. In fact, the end is so abrupt that you are left to fill in the plot holes yourself. Most notably, there is no explanation as to how someone’s head can still be alive on a spike.

In Wet, an isolated and alcoholic potter and beach comber digs up a jade box with a body part enclosed. Removing the contents, he attempts to sell the box at a nearby shop. The shop keeper recognises the box and implores the inebriated man to return the contents to the box and bury it again. He tells the suspicious seller a story about mermaids luring men to their deaths, and that the only way to make the mythical creatures remain dead is to dismember them and to bury the body parts in different areas. Our anti-hero fails to heed the warning, suffering a horrific fate as the mermaid begins to return to life. This one has much potential, but fails to really take the story in any unexpected direction.

In House Call, a doctor is called to a remote farm house on a stormy night, to tend to a near-hysterical mother’s teenage son. He is bonded to his bed, continually warning that he has been bitten and cannot be held accountable for his actions. The boy is convinced he is a vampire; the doctor tells him he will test his blood. But there is to be a further twist that neither mother nor son could have anticipated. The token vampire story, but this one is atmospheric, possessing a clever mini-twist which is horrendously and embarrassingly let down by the final reveal.

Deadtime Stories... Great title, isn’t it? I’ve enjoyed many horror anthology series; most recently Fear Itself, the inferior but still immensely entertaining follow-up to the acclaimed Masters of Horror. This one, I’m afraid, doesn’t even come close to that sort of script quality. George A. Romero executive produces and presents the stories, but this is much more the child of Jeff Monahan, who executive produces the series with Romero, writes and directs Valley of the Shadow, and plays Jack in Wet. The only other claim to fame here is Tom Savini, who directs House Call.

This is at best an average viewing experience. The linking pieces spoken by Romero are cringeworthy and badly written, and the strength of the scripts really need to be improved to prevent Deadtime Stories being instantly forgettable.


Ty Power

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