Friday, June 6, 2014

Movie Review: Screamtime (1986)

So there are a lot more anthologies out there than I initially thought. I came across this random little British one from 1986 and decided that it couldn't hurt to give it a go. Predictably, it turned out much like most anthologies do, wherein it has definite hits and misses when it comes to the quality of the short films included.

The wraparound story is really nothing of interest - two jerks steal some videos from a rental store and then barge in on the apartment of their lady friend Marie to watch them. Guess they never thought to steal a VCR player to go with it.

"That's The Way To Do It"
If anything, That's The Way To Do It was the best one to start the anthology off with because it was the stupidest and most boring, and therefore you can think that maybe there is something better to look forward to. The story is about an older man, Jack Grimshaw, who is obsessed with his job as a Punch and Judy puppeteer. His wife wants him to give it up so they can take better jobs somewhere else, and his stepson Damien thinks he's a loser and is pissed at him for never showing him any attention. Whine, whine, whine. All the people in Jack's life give him shit in every scene about his puppets when I really don't see it as a big deal at all, but what do I know?

The biggest problem with this short is how unbelievably predictable it is. I may not have seen that exact conclusion coming, but when Jack's people start to die by way of a bit of wood like in the Punch and Judy routines, I never once thought that it was actually the puppet that was doing the killings, though they of course try to make it look like that is exactly what is happening. It's pretty obvious that it is actually Jack going all crazy like, murdering his wife and stepson, and also a poor doctor who gets in the way. It's kinda funny to watch a puppet just bludgeon the shit out of these people in the kill scenes, but other than that, That's The Way To Do It is way too lame for me to get behind.

Though not by any means perfect, Dreamhouse is the best short in the bunch here. A newlywed couple, Tony and Susan, have gotten a house from Tony's parents for a wedding gift but things keep going wrong in it. Bad electricity, bad plumbing, and the fact that it may be... haunted! Susan keeps seeing things that aren't there - probably helped in that regard by those god-awful huge glasses that she wears. Anyway, the characters aren't really that likable in Dreamhouse - Tony is a shit sometimes, and Susan is just plain annoying. The most interesting person is the clairvoyant that Susan brings in to look at their house because she is hilarious, one of those people with no filter between their head and their mouth.

Unlike the previous entry, I was not able to predict the ending to Dreamhouse, much to my dismay! It was good to be surprised with this ending because it was a really good one, and one that I appreciated very much as something different and unexpected. There is a bit more gore in this episode than the first but it is not that good, very quickly and cheaply done from the looks of it.

"Do You Believe in Fairies?"
Okay, so we have one lame short, one good short, and one just completely random and weird short. Do You Believe in Fairies? is about a young man named Gavin who needs money to fix his stupid dirt bike so he takes a job as a gardener/caretaker for two old biddies who tell him that fairies guard their yard. Gavin and his friends soon learn whether they are telling the truth or not when they decide to break into the house and rob the ladies. I give this one points for being slightly interesting and different but I'm just not behind the whole fairy/garden gnome angle they went with. Is that a big thing in the UK or something? Who talks about fairies anymore? There's also a crazy backstory with the old ladies' ancestor and her dead lovers buried in the yard...

If nothing else, this setup allows the short to go to some pretty hilarious places plot- and situation-wise. The garden gnomes that work for the fairies stalk one character until a hilarious scene where a little person dressed like a gnome jumps on his back and attacks him. Of course, the aforementioned dead lovers also make an appearance in a scene that is perhaps supposed to creepy or scary but is really just stupid. Gavin is murdered in a way that completely rips off Carrie, so I was none to happy about that and was really ready for this whole mess to be over with.

Finally, we come back to the wraparound story in the dumbest way possible where the three idiots are somehow magically disposed of in ways similar to the movies they were just watching. Eh, I can't fully recommend this one. Its poor quality doesn't help the lameness of the stories, and though Dreamhouse is the one shining star in the bunch, it's not enough to make it a must-see.


  1. I watched this oddball trilogy of terror some years ago and I do recall loving That's the way to Do it. Two out of three of the short's a slasher so I guess that's one reason for me to forgive any flaws.

    Plus that wrestling midget- er, "little person" in that fairy segment had me laughing so yeah, I kinda (KINDA) digged this!

    1. Really? I don't see how anyone could find anything to love in that short, but you go right ahead!

    2. I'm a sucker for killer toys...*shifty eyes*

  2. I have to admit I liked this one too. No classic - but there are waaaaay worse movies out there.