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Review: ‘George A. Romero Presents Deadtime Stories Volume 1′

July 13, 2011
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I’ve been so starved for any little morsel of horror I can get my hands on this summer that I jumped at the chance to review this new offering from horror maestro George A. Romero. What a waste. My husband (who will watch anything) pronounced that it was crap within five minutes and left the room in a huff. I stuck around for the entire stink-fest. This “anthology” is comprised of three short films, interspersed with Romero sitting in a chair, cracking corny little intros that make The Crypt keeper look like a master of prose. It’s a pity to see such a legend (Night of the Living Dead) reduced to this embarrassing plight late in his life.

Jeff Monahan wrote all the films. First up is Valley of the Shadow (also directed by Monahan), a low budget film about an expedition team in South America who are led by a woman who is searching for her missing husband. Naturally she leads them right into danger. Dreadful acting and cheesy effects render this one nearly unwatchable. Not passable as quality filmmaking by any stretch of the imagination. The final shot will leave you groaning.

Michael Fischa directs Wet. A lonely alcoholic ( Jeff Monahan) combs the beaches looking for artifacts to sell to a local antiques dealer (Nick Mancuso). One day he stumbles upon a jade box, but the dealer refuses to buy it, and warns the man to never, ever dig up any more and open them, or he will suffer a horrible fate. Of course he runs back to the beach and does just that. You can guess the rest of the story. This segment was okay, and was probably the most gruesome (which isn’t saying a lot), but there is nothing really special about it.

If there is a highlight to be had on the DVD, it is definitely the last segment entitled House Call. The short was directed by Tom Savini (well known in horror circles for being an actor, stuntman, and makeup effects talent). Curiously, he is not mentioned anywhere on the press materials or on the actual DVD package, though he is listed on the credits in the film. It seems that House Call was culled from a 2004 series called Chill Factor, which was part of a horror series.

House Call features three actors and is heavy on dialogue. A frantic mother requests that a doctor make a house call on a stormy night. Her son seems gravely ill, and is strapped to a bed when the doctor arrives. Could he be a vampire, as he claims to be? Character actor Bingo O’Malley and Maryann Nagel give nice performances, and the story could easily be a stage play, with most of the dialogue occurring between the doctor and the mother while the son is out of sight in a second room.

The primary light source in the house is candlelight; Savini makes some interesting use of shadows and dancing light. He also uses a lot of sepia tones, giving the film an old-timey feel. The phone call between the doctor and the mother has a distinctly film-noir feel. A final nifty twist gives it a satisfying ending.

The entire anthology clocks in at just 74 minutes. I wouldn’t really recommend buying it, but it is worth a rental just for House Call (skip the others). Deadtime Stories Vol. 1 is available on DVD and on digital download.

Rating 2/5

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