Like a lot of people, I signed up for horror streaming service Shudder for the sole purpose of seeing Joe Bob Briggs’ “The Last Drive-In”. I was going to sign up for the free trial, hit it and quit it. Instead, here I am months later, too lazy to cancel my subscription. It’s fine, because it’s only a fiver-per-month and JBB has since had his “Dinners of Death” mini-marathon with his upcoming “A Very Joe Bob Christmas” mere days away from the time of this review. In the interest of getting my $5 worth though, it felt like a good idea to watch some Shudder original movies. And since it’s that time of year, I bring to you their exclusive holiday horror anthology: All the Creatures Were Stirring
Oh, I can think of about 17,000 things. Only 3/4 of which involve death or physical mutilation!
Co-workers Max and Jenna are “orphans” at Christmas. With no one else to spend their holiday(s), he invites her to some off-off-off-off-Broadway independent stage show that just so happens to share its name with our movie. Weird coincidence, right? Performed by its trio of players in acts, each tale is presented to we the audience instead as short film segments, with the title cards between each performance handled by the human representation of a grown-up Helga Pataki after she declared herself asexual and joined a jazz-oompah-barbershop quartet.
The Stockings Were Hung – A joyless office Christmas party goes from Dunder-Mifflin doldrums to a Would You Rather hosted by Jigsaw, initiated by an annoyingly “wacky” Killjoy-like voice via an inter-office conference call from Hell. The previously painful extracurricular escape from their cubicles turns worse than those staff meetings you were force to sit through on your lunch break! Unfortunately, a decent (albeit not exactly original) concept is wasted on what feels like a first draft script acted by people reading their lines as they’re being written. Even the ending is awful and rushed, leaving much unresolved and furthering my hypothesis that much/most/all of this calamitous crud was improvised on-the-spot.
Dash Away All – The very last customer of a department store manages to lock himself out of (and his phone inside of) his car and is left all alone in the parking lot. Well, with the sole exception of a sketchy looking van. The Mystery Machine it is not, but on the plus side it’s also not “a rockin”, so he goes “a knockin” in search of help. He’s greeted by a chocolate and vanilla pair of pseudo-hippie ladies who loan him their burner…and watch him like he’s a 5’8” honey-glazed Christmas ham the entire time. Needless to say (yet I’m clearly saying it anyway), things are not going to end well for someone(s) in this scenario. Overall, it’s a dozen times superior to its predecessor, in direction, cinematography, story cohesion, acting and ending! Whereas the only horror “Stockings” instilled in me was the worry that I was in for a looooong winter’s night with the rest of these shorts, “Dash” gave me moderate hope that what appeared to be a pile of awful offal would yield something edible.
All Through the House – The poor man’s non-union equivalent of the hot dog scientist from The Happening plays Chet, a bag of dicks type of guy (as are all who bear the mark of “Chet”) that goes through the Ebenezer Scrooge wringer. It’s nothing creative like Scrooged, instead taking most of its influence from the similar segment of ”Beavis and Butthead Do Christmas”… but not nearly as funny as it seems to think it is. It’s not James Nguyen terrible, but it’s just kinda “there”, like figgy pudding.
Arose Such a Clatter – A man who may or may not be a private-eye (he’s watching you *clap clap*), resembles the platonic ideal of a mash-up between pre-morbid obesity Orson Welles and pre-coke nose Artie Lang has a hit and run-in with a deer on his way home one night. Though he puts the creature out of its misery, his own misery is just beginning…as is ours…but it’s the shortest short of the set, so at least it’s a short-lived misery. Get it? Short-lived? Yeah, well, fuck you too, Hermey. Anyway, not only is this a poorly made (though semi-acted as opposed to not-at-all) story that includes needless foreshadowing, but it face fucks us with that same prognostication not five minutes later, I’m presuming to explain itself to those viewers whose moms may have drank heavily whilst in utero.
In a Twinkling – And no, a “Twinkling” is not a tiny Twinkie…nor a midget that’s also a gay stereotype. Aaaaaaaaaaaanyway, Paul Giamatti’s illegitimate son is hiding himself out home alone on X-mas Eve, fortifying his home and preparing to chain himself into bed for the night. You know, as you would in a case where you’re a sleepwalker or a werewolf. His friends show up for a surprise holiday dinner, much to his chagrin, which leads to all manner of “Twilight Zone” chicanery and “Twin Peaks” tomfoolery going down (like your mom did to that mall Santa last night! ZING!). Acting’s not bad, comedy’s okay, visual effects are cheap but fun. A weird little yarn that’s out-of-place in a horror movie, but let’s just call it “The Xmas-Files” and have a laugh. I’m running late for the pantheon’s Cthulhumas party and still need to wrap up something hastily pulled from a drawer in my garage for White Elephant!
And to All a Goodnight – As with any anthology, our feature’s finale wraps up our bookending narrative with Maximilian and Jenna-bifida. For the sake of not spoiling anything, consider this the part where I carve the roast beast for all you Whos down in Whoville so the ghost of Boris Karloff can get back to haunting Alex Trebek’s attic. Remember, even a miracle needs a hand, ya filthy animals!
Two-and-a-Half Grither Fists out-of-Five
Enjoy the review? Hate the review? Have a movie you’d like to see judged in The Tomb? Fill out the feedback form! Never has it been easier to make contact with a deitic being!
All materials found within this review are the intellectual properties and opinions of the original writer. The Tomb of Anubis claims no responsibility for the views expressed in this review, but we do lay a copyright claim on it beeyotch, so don’t steal from this shit or we’ll have to go all Farmer Vincent on your silly asses. © October 1st 2013 and beyond, not to be reproduced in any way without the express written consent of the reviewer and The Tomb of Anubis, or pain of a physical and legal nature will follow. Touch not lest ye be touched.