All ghouls are welcome to the ‘Drive-In Horrorshow’

There are many things that go bump in the night in the new anthology film, Drive-In Horrorshow, directed by Michael Neel and recently released on DVD from Midnight Releasing.

Some of the five movies in this collection are quite invigorating, while others are passably entertaining. If you long for the days when drive-in theaters played splatter flicks and monster movies every Saturday night, then Drive-In Horrorshow will be a welcome trip to a nostalgic era when the blood continually spilled on an enormous white screen in the woods. Think Creepshow meets Chiller Theatre and you have a good idea of what to expect.

Cover art courtesy of Midnight Releasing

Our host for the evening is The Projectionist (a very funny Luis Negron). Much like the bevy of horror hosts that have hit television screens over the years, whether the Cryptkeeper, Elvira or Zacherley, The Projectionist introduces each film to the audience with a demonic smile and clever comment about the failing state of drive-in theaters. Helping our host is a horrific assistant known as Billy Troll (Billy Gage), a concessions girl known as the Teenage Axe Victim (Nancy Sadsad) and a disfigured ticket collector (Joe Lemieux).

The only guests to arrive for the drive-in are two floating ghosts, plus us, of course.

The first mini-feature is Pig, a violent little fable about a college girl (Judith Kalaora) holding a fraternity brother (Matt Catanzano) captive in his own bathtub. When he wakes from a deep slumber, Tim finds that Roseanne has glued his naked body to the bottom of the tub and is starting to turn on the water. Why does she have murder in her eyes? Tim tried to rape Roseanne the night before, and she wants payback.

This first film is the definition of so-so. The acting is decent, and the simple story is engaging enough. But something is missing from the plot. All of the action takes place in the bathroom, and there are only two characters. The simplicity can be appreciated on the one hand, but then it also simultaneously emphasizes the bareness of the story.

In the end, Pig is a fitting homage to revenge flicks like I Spit on Your Grave.

The second feature, The Closet, is a quite funny send-up of the whole monster-in-the-closet sub-genre. Chris Fidler plays Jamie, a young boy obsessed with sci-fi television shows, even though his parents and sister chide him for his interests.

When a family member doesn’t understand your hobby, what should you do? Jamie decides to feed his mother, father and sister to the ferocious monster in his closet, one by one by one.

The acting in The Closet is bad, and much of the dialogue is corny. However, there’s still some enjoyment from the clever plot. Aficionados will be reminded of Troll or even Little Monsters.

The third feature is the best of the bunch and alone is worth the price of admission.

Fall Apart tells the story of Dr. Patrick Mazursky (a skilled Larry Jay Tish), a physician who tries to help his uninsured and home-bound patients. When he stumbles upon an older man with seemingly contagious sores, the plot takes a troubled turn.

The doctor begins to suffer from similar sores, and within a few hours his skin starts peeling away and his bones fall apart. The visual effects used to bring Mazursky’s ravaged body to life are beyond believable. It’s amazing how a low-budget film is able to capture such vivid imagery.

The Horrorshow continues with The Meat Man, a small story in the same vein as The Closet. Two young kids (Trevor Fidler and Jimmy Flynn) are convinced that their father (Jonathan Donahue) is a cannibalistic killer known as the Meat Man. They go hunting in their freezer to find the evidence they need.

This fourth entry in the anthology is mostly a tongue-in-cheek story that is more funny than scary.

The final film is The Watcher, a love letter to all those 1970s and 1980s movies that found unsuspecting teenagers camping out in the middle of nowhere. Four lovebirds (Jenna Morasca, Ethan Zohn, Rydia Vielehr and Nathaniel Sylva) encounter a psycho in the woods (Robert Hines) who watches them like a hunter watches his prey.

The problem with The Watcher is that the entire film is shot from a faraway perspective. With no close-ups, it’s difficult to get to know these characters and see any emotions on their faces. Much of the dialogue seems to have been added later, so maybe the decision to stay faraway was so a boom mike wouldn’t mess up the shot.

One could make the argument that you’re seeing the plot unfold from the perspective of the Watcher in the woods, but that seems like a stretch.

Drive-In Horrorshow is a clever attempt at an anthology series, with a middling payoff. All of the tales are semi-enjoyable, with Fall Apart being a bloody cut above the rest.

Then again, those people who will enjoy the Horrorshow are those people who will loook past mediocre acting and cheesy lines. Horror fans are used to a few rough edges. So in that sense the movie is a perfect homage to the majesty of the drive-in. Let’s hope The Projectionist and his crew come back for a sequel.

By John Soltes / Publisher / John@HollywoodSoapbox.com
  • Drive-In Horrorshow

  • 2009

  • Directed by Michael Neel

  • Written by Neel and Greg Ansin

  • Starring Jenna Morasca, Louis Negron and Bill Gage

  • Running time: 107 minutes

  • Pig … Rating: ★★☆☆

  • The Closet … Rating: ★½☆☆

  • Fall Apart … Rating: ★★★☆

  • The Meat Man … Rating: ★★½☆

  • The Watcher … Rating: ★★☆☆

  • Overall … Rating: ★★½☆

  • Click here to purchase Drive-In Horrorshow on DVD.

John Soltes

John Soltes is an award-winning journalist. His writing has appeared in The New York Times, Earth Island Journal, The Hollywood Reporter, New Jersey Monthly and at Time.com, among other publications. E-mail him at john@hollywoodsoapbox.com

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