Tuesday, 25 March 2008

Creepshow III (2006)

If you can look at these makeup effects without laughing, you are a stronger man than I

Creepshow is the shit, and Creepshow 2, while a step down in quality from the first, definitely has it's moments. They managed to capture the essence of the 1950s pulp horror of E.C. Comics (the first film more than the second) while being fine genre films in their own right. As horror anthologies go, they are at the top of the heap.

So, twenty years later, Creepshow III is unceremoniously dumped onto video store shelves. A perusal of the credits shows that nobody from the original is involved, although they are shameless enough to namedrop both George Romero and Stephen King on the back of the box. Worse still, these are the same group of hacks who brought us the excremental Day of the Dead 2: Contagium, so I guess that they won't rest until they've taken a dump on Romero's entire legacy. Can The Crazies 2: Epidemic Boogaloo be far behind?

The film starts with an amateurish piece of Newgrounds-quality animation that makes the cut-rate cartoon of the second film look like Fantasia. It has about as much to do with E.C. Comics as my nuts, and it does not bode well for the rest of the film.

In Alice a bratty schoolgirl is walking through a typical suburban street (hope you like it, because it's one of a handful of shooting locations), musing about how much she hates her life. She returns home to find her father fiddling with a universal remote he obtained from the nutty professor down the street. However, this is no ordinary remote, and each push of a button sends Alice into an alternate universe. Pushing the "Color" button, for instance, turns her family into African-Americans. For some reason, with each successive change she develops weeping pustules all over her body, but she doesn't seem particularly worried, so why should we? In the end a push of the "Signal" button turns her into a mess of oozing sores, until the Professor arrives and turns her into a rabbit. Whuh?

Radio sees a down-on-his-luck security guard buying an old radio from a bum on the street, only to have it start talking to him in a sexy voice. At first it starts ordering him to clean up and telling him what to eat. Much like having a wife. Inevitably, it's advice becomes more sinister. Actually this story is probably one of the better ones. The radio routinely dishes out financial advice, and is obsessed with diversification and long-term sustained growth. "Don't even fuck with commodities" it warns.

In Call Girl, a serial-killer hooker makes a trip to see her latest John, not knowing that he has a surprise in store for her. Should I tell you he is some sort of vampire thingy with a terrible facial prosthetic (featured prominently on the box art and at the top of this review), or let you experience the terror for yourself?

In The Professor's Wife, a couple of former students come to visit their professor on the eve of his wedding. As shown in an unbearably lame flashback montage, the professor was fond of practical jokes, so the students come to the sensible conclusion that he has built himself a Stepford Wife. They proceed to knock her unconscious and take her apart in an attempt to find her circuitry. This is played for laughs, so when the professor gets back they realise their mistake and "hilariously" run around hiding severed body parts in his kitchen. Stupid.

Haunted Dog introduces an asshole doctor who is being forced to work at a Health Clinic as part of his community service. On the way to work he drops a hot dog and so he gives it to a bum and, of course, the bum chokes on it and dies. The doctor is subsequently haunted by the bum offering him a spectral hot dog from beyond the grave. The story is padded out with interminable montage sequences of the doctor writing prescriptions and being a dick. They aren't funny. He pops pills and is mean to his patients, but he's no House MD. He's not even a Dr. Becker.

There isn't really a wraparound story this time around. Rather, the different segments occur near-concurrently and the characters and story arcs overlap. It's just a method to work around an extremely limited budget and reuse sets and actors. The stories are muddled and incoherent, with no tension or interesting characters. Acting ranges from near-competent to terrible. The "comedy" is absolutely dreadful and you can hear the gears grinding with the tonal shifts. Gore effects are limited to a few rubbery limbs and lots of ketchup. There's not even any boobs. Creepshow III is pretty bad, is the message you should be taking away from all this.

There really isn't a single thing to recommend about Creepshow III. You may see the box on the shelf and be tempted, like I was. Be strong and learn from my mistakes. Taurus Films trades in broken promises and shattered dreams and I'm pretty sure they feed on the tears of small children. You know what's really scary? Creepshow IV is in production as of February 2008.

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