|REVIEW:One caviat of the genre that never really sees a big-budget offering, is the Horror-Anthology film. The closest this particular subset of the genre has ever gotten to being big budget, is the old "Creepshow" movies of the 80's. That had some big name actors (now), who were on-the-way-up (back then). Horror/Anthology series or shows, are far more successful than feature-length-films. I guess that's because peoples attention spans for one film are short enough. Now try to grab and hold their attention for 5 short movies wrapped into 90 minutes. Nevertheless, horror-anthologies keep on coming down the pipe. Some good, some bad, some...worse. "Sinister Visions", the brainchild of one Kim Sonderholm, is not one of the greatest horror-anthologies you'll ever watch.
But it has an old-school-horror appeal that is very attractive and appealing to the genre fan who remembers watching late night scare flicks on Cinemax, or USA Up All Night. When you were definitely "not of age to be watching". The movie features five segments, most of which are directed by Sonderholm. Two others (My Undead Girlfriend and Genital Genocide)...were directed by Henric Brandt, and Doug Gehl respectively. The first entry, "Succubus"...is one of Kim's offerings. And it deals with a woman named Emma who is overcome and eventually possessed by the mythological female demon.
|Who feeds on men. The segment doesn't have the best acting, but it tells the story it sets out to tell. Quickly and appealingly. But with some cheesy and cliche moments as well. As an example, one of the seg's best moments...is when Emma is broken-down by the demon as she walks the streets, and is eventually forced to enter a nightclub to feed her insatiable *appetite*. By this time, the force inside her has completely taken over. At times, the actress playing Emma can be quite good. At other times, not so much. But the characters inner-turmoil is what keeps the segment on track, and interesting to behold.|
|The cheesier/cliche moments come when she finds her next "victim", at a nightclub with blaring music. Seems every story these days involving a vampire, succubus, or possession in general. Has to take our main character to a local nightclub. Oh, and then of course she has to have a "bitch" moment when she blatantly snags another womans "date" right from her. I just wish for once in one of these sorts of stories, it'd be a different path taken. Instead of a "good girl" getting possessed and becoming "a bad girl".|
|It's way too easy and comes off more as social commentary instead of true "horror". Anyways, what genre fans should really be stoked for in the "Succubus" seg, is the finale when we get some excellent FX&Makeup work on display. Not gonna spoil anything, but it's worth checking this film out on DVD for. This segment overall is decent. The possession story is a favorite of filmmakers these days, and Sonderholm packs as much punch as he can into this short-lived segment. Much better of a possession story told here in about 15 minutes, than I've seen some feature-length movies and sequels tell in 90+ minutes, that's for sure. "Succubus" is followed up by a "zombie seg" called "My Undead Girlfriend".|
Where a man wakes up one day next to his girlfriend, only to discover she has become a member of the UNDEAD! Now that she's a zombie, Keith...her other *living half*...has to decide whether to kill her or, continue on with this relationship in some form. Complicating matters, is this being the very day he was scheduled to meet her p[arents for the first time. And, a local loan shark who Keith owes money to. I REALLY LIKED this segment, and wished it would've ran longer than it did. It was a new take on the zombie story. One that didn't involve shady corporations, governments, or some experimental virus. FOR ONCE! It was just a normal guy put into a more-than-complicated situation.
And thanks to his girlfriend becoming a zombie, now he's got to figure out a way to dress her up to appear as a member of the living! Just so as not to arouse any suspicion from her parents later on when they arrive for dinner. Needless to say, the plan doesn't go off exactly..."without a hitch". Leading to a pretty comical conclude to the segment as a whole. Brandt who directed this segment, kicks-ass with this entry! I must say I liked it a lot better than the first segment, "Succubus". The film continues on from here with three more segments to finish things off. They are "Mother Knows Best", "Woman Scorned", and "Genital Genocide".
The former segment, is quite an interesting character study. And a lot of what appears as the characters on the surface...is NOT AT ALL what is really going on beneath the surface. Sonderholm redeems himself and rebounds nicely with "Mother Knows Best". AKA...segment number 3. Not that I hated "SUCCUBUS". But I just wasn't into some parts. "Mother Knows Best" is a lot more creepy, disturbing, and dark. It plays almost a little like "Texas Chainsaw Massacre" meets "Psycho" meets "The People Under The Stairs."
And the actress who plays the aforementioned "Mother" in this segment, gives new meaning to the term "Mommie Dearest". "Woman Scorned" is another "dark entry" from Sonderholm about a woman who has her heartbroken, and decides to "sharpen" her skills at getting-even using a REAL KNIFE. This tale is smartly, and cleverly written to not fall into any of the usual love-triangle-horror traps, or cliches. It has a small twist involving the main players, and the acting avoids coming off as cheap-soap-opera junk. And instead, all the players involved roll this thing out likened to a real torture-horror-movie. That is just as long as it "needs to be".
Not too long to the point of offending or turning off its audience with overkill and unnecessary sadism. Unfortunately, "Sinister Visions" doesn't save the best for last. Segment "Genital Genocide" is the worst one of the group. It's involves a rapist who is unapologetic about his crimes. Even as he faces execution in front of a live audience. The character here comes off more as gross, perverse, and disgusting, than compelling and psychologically disturbing. The set up of the story was terrific, sure. But the characters in it weren't written well enough to bring forward the desired effect. Thus, this segment comes off as kind of a throw away entry.
Although it has quite the grusome conclude...everything before this moment is not written or acted out compellingly enough. Can't slam the seg too much though, as these stories about allowing the audience into the mind of a killer or victimizer, are very hard to pull off. And maybe, just cannot work within an anthology format. In the end, "Sinister Visions" is worth giving a watch to, if looking for a horrornathology film with an old-school 80's appeal. Where each story is unique and different than what came before it. And goes that extra mile to map out almost all corners of the genre.
|THE GOOD: The films strongest segments are: "MY UNDEAD GIRLFRIEND", which nicely blends a new twist on the zombie story, with some great humor moments. "MOTHER KNOWS BEST", which is about as "dark" as "dark" can get. "WOMAN SCORNED"...which smartly handles a nugget of the torture-porn subgenre in a small amount of time alloted. And "SUCCUBUS"...which despite its occasionally cheesy and cliche moments here and there. Is a good creature story, and actually reminded me a bit of an episode of the old sci-fi/horror t.v. series "MONSTERS".
THE BAD: I just cannot or could not find anything to like about the final segment, "GENITAL GENOCIDE". It seemed too forced at times, too over-the-top, and the villain in it goes too far and is absolutely stomach turning.
OVERALL: Three stars out of four.