Scary Tales (2001)
Director: Michael A. Hoffman
Joel D. Wynkoop/Mr. Longfellow
Thorin Taylor Hannah/Annabelle
Jobless schlep Dennis (Cassinelli) hits this odd employment office where a wide-eyed (cocaine perhaps?) job placement dude gives him the lowdown on three potential jobs and what horrendous events would happen to him if he took them on. Horror ensues? Not really. I’ll stick to arm robberies to gain my bread though!
This shot-on-MINI-DV anthology is enjoyable on some levels and is never really boring, but it could’ve been so much more than just an easy way to kill 78 minutes while you wait for the pizza to arrive. To fully comprehend where I’m coming from, I’ll have to break this bitch down. Here we go!
TERMINALLY UNEMPLOYED: This wraparound story has our boy Dennis (Cassinelli) shooting the shite with gonzo job placement dude Mr. Longfellow (nice name...I wonder how he got it). What makes this segment watchable is definitely Joel D. Wynkoop’s padded-room, loony-tune performance as Mr. Longfellow (I just can’t get over that name, catchy stuff). The dude goes "all out" with the role and he manages to inject life in what could’ve been a dull segment. On the downside, Ria Rampersad who plays the secretary has to be the lousiest actress this side of North America. She just stank up the joint and subsequently removed all impact from more “extreme” scene. I’ve seen reruns of Teletubbies with better performances.
HIT AND RUN: This is the first hypothetical situation Dennis would get in if he took the specific job. Driving home from work, he runs over a little girl playing with her doll in the street and then flees the scene (I still don’t get why the girl’s mom didn’t tell her not to play in the fucking road when she came out to see her…bad parenting…the pitfall of this country). Once home, Dennis starts seeing dolls popping out of the woodwork left and right. Our guilt-ridden chump eventually loses what’s left of his sanity and it gets ugly. This tale is the closest we get to “scary”. Hoffman goes nuts on the slick style and the dolls are fairly creepy (aren’t they always) even though I couldn’t catch a word of what they were whispering. The story is kind of one note and the ending is mucho predictable but I still had a good time while watching it. It’s harmless fun with shades of Poe’s Tell-Tale Heart. One question though: If the jobs are the springboards of each story, why didn’t we see Dennis kicking it at his catering gig? Should’ve found a way to incorporate the job in there to keep this segment consistent with the other ones.
I AIN'T GOT NO BODY: We move on to the second tale that aims more for hearty chuckles than chills. Here, Dennis works at a used book store and for some reason he’s in love with some bitchy beeyatch client that treats him like a cum rag. Now I will admit that Dennis’ cheesy “fantasy” montage involving his beloved tramp had me laughing it up, but isn’t this flick called “Scary Tales”? There’s nothing remotely scary about this one! On the upside, we do get some kool astral projection sequences, Lindsay Horgan (Jamie) plays the evil female to a T and we do get a nice tit shot. But the tale itself is too predictable (again, I saw the ending coming miles away) and I kept hoping that it would take a darker path to wind up being about a big kitchen knife slitting that Jamie gal’s throat…it didn’t. It’s still an ok watch but in a very passive way.
THE DEATH OF... : This last chapter in the anthology has a struggling writer (aren’t we all) lose his marbles after everybody in town rejects his horror screenplay. One night, he decides to ease the pain by drinking like Mickey Rourke and popping pills like Robert Downey Jr. Of course that leads to the ghost of Edgar Allan Poe visiting him and shite goes sour from there. On the plus side, the scenes where the agents reject poor Dennis are pretty freaking funny (I loved that bald agent dude…lol), Thorin Taylor Hannah (Annabelle) is pleasant to the crotch, the tale is well-written and the ending (although I also saw that one coming, damn, I watch way too many movies) has a gnarly “Poe” type of twist to it. Overall, this story is an improvement over the first two, has more substance and an edgier feel.
So what’s the verdict? As a whole the film was ok. Not bad, not awesome…ok. The able directing, the funny moments, the sometime entertaining acting, the kool wraparound ending and the tit shots made it somewhat worth my while. Unfortunately, the settings are bland, the scares way absent, the sex scenes lifeless (I didn’t point North once) and the comedy too abundant. Maybe it’s just me, but I was expecting to be spooked (It is called "Scary Tales" after all), not reduced to a laughing fit. Let's go job hunting.
Not much here. We get a bloody stabbing and a bottle whacked on somebody’s head. I’ve seen 75-year old women wetter than this one.
Bill Cassinelli (Dennis) is mostly competent but he does have moments where his delivery feels phony (his scenes with Mr. Longfellow in particular didn’t convince me) but overall he carries the movie well and even when he’s bad, he’s funny. Joel D. Wynkoop (Mr. Longfellow) steals the show as the job placement nut. I dug his left field enthusiasm. Lindsay Horgan (Jamie) does the bitch thang well and I enjoyed watching her tits bounce when she ran. Thorin Taylor Hannah (Annabelle) is a cutie and she charmed me with her cleavage. Ria Rampersad (Wraparound Secretary) can’t act, simple as cherry pie on a Sunday morning.
T & A
Lindsay Horgan (Jamie) shows off her ta-tas and a lightning fast glimpse of her butt. Thorin Taylor Hannah (Annabelle) also goes topless and shows off her booty via g-string. I hear that one of the tit shots isn’t the actress’ in question, but I don’t know which one. Yes, they used “stunt tits” for the insert. The ladies get Bill Cassinelli (Dennis) shirtless.
I have to hand it to Hoffman, he gives this low budget flick a polished look. I dug his use of slow motion, subliminal cuts during the doll tale (very nice) and image superimposition. He also showcases creative shot compositions and uses fast motion competently. Overall, nice job duder!
The score is adequate and fits the different moods of each respective tale.
"Scary Tales" is well directed, somewhat interesting and the acting is passable. But alas, the stories should’ve been darker and braver. Some tension and gore would also have been nice. I wanted a strong dose of “scary” with my “funny tales”! "Creepshow" managed to do it, so did "Tales From The Dark Side: The Movie", and even though I dug some of the humor, the movie just plays too nice for it to come through as a horror film. On the bright side, even though their context was far from stimulating, I still got my inspiring tit shots. Time to dial 1-800-241LOOSELADIES… I hope they’re open at this time and still deliver the free fries with every order…
This is from the Official Site:
SCARY TALES is a horror anthology, shot primarily in South Florida, on a budget of $35,000. The filmmakers chose to shoot the picture on the MINI DV medium and use a Cannon XL-1. The cast includes many Florida natives.
Director, and South Florida local, Michael A. Hoffman, chose to make an anthology picture that was light in tone. More of a tribute to 80's horror than an exploitation piece. This is what separates SCARY TALES from most indie fare - a lack of bloodletting and exploitation.