Tales of affordable madness
The once popular horror anthology subgenre lives on – if not in the theaters, then in the world of low budget, independent, straight-to tape productions, where young filmmakers can practice their licks on their way to bigger things.
Creaturealm: Demons Wake, from Kevin Lindenmuth’s Brimstone Productions, features only two segments, rather than the usual three. However, this let’s the first entry play out longer, to the point where I thought it could probably be remade as a feature of its own.
Entitled Possession is Nine Tenths of the Law, it concerns the frustrations of lawyer Pat Macmanus (Paul Locklear) assigned a vexing case – defending a woman accused of killing her husband who has no memory of what happened that night. The case is getting a lot of press due to the fact that it was horrifically violent, and evidence suggests the woman ate some of the corpse after hacking it to pieces. There’s also the fact that her husband may have been secretly affiliated with a dangerous cult.
Drawn like a fly to shit is tabloid reporter John D (David Rains, who also wrote the script), who just happens to specialize in covering supernatural crimes. Though annoying, D manages to use his expertise to actually help Macmanus out with the case. Things get ever stranger when the trial begins, with the defense pleading the woman was possessed by a demon while committing the crime!
Rains and director Tim Thomson have put together an entertaining little featurette here, with plenty of humor, adequate f/x, and an obvious familiarity with their material. An end title promises further adventures of Pat Macmanus, which isn’t a bad idea.
Dryer Straits is a much shorter companion piece, about an old woman (Phyllis Weaver) who is troubled by a rash, her leaching daughter, and a puzzling amount of lint build-up in her clothes dryer. What she doesn’t know is that her daughter is trying to poison her with a mysterious potion she got from a black magick shop, which is causing her rash – and making a humonculous in her dryer.Writer/director Michael Legge makes the most of a scanty budget, and also portrays the lint monster.
I enjoyed both these features quite a bit more than I expected. The trend in low-budget horror continues to be more toward decent scripts and fresh ideas, and away from cheap sex and gore. Not that there’s anything wrong with cheap sex and gore, but the change is overdue and quite agreeable. There’s also another volume of Creaturealm out there, although I’m not sure which was made first.
Both are available from Brimstone Productions.