VHS Thursday: Tales From the Crypt, Phantasm, & Better Off Dead

Before John Kassir was a talking corpse that told chilling stories with that annoying voice came along, there was this fantastic British anthology about five strangers that come together in a crypt where the crypt keeper tells them how they will die. The stories derive from numerous horror comics. A young and very attractive Joan Collins stars in the “And All Through the House” portion, taken from The Vault of Horror #35, where she is stalked by a psychotic Santa Clause after murdering her husband. This was my favorite portion of the film. Years later, Tales From the Crypt (HBO) revisited this segment. I prefer the original.

The next segment “Reflection of Death” starred Ian Hendry and Angela Grant. He’s a two timing son of a bitch that abandon’s his family and in return dies in a horrible car crash with his lover. In Final Destination fashion, he saw his death right before it happens. This story was taken from Tales from the Crypt #23. This might have been my least favorite story line.

Peter Cushing and Robin Phillips took over the “Poetic Justice” portion where the two pair of royal snobs poison their poor old neighbor because they seem to resent him for having so many dogs and entertaining kids in his home. They try to spread the word that he’s a pedophile and the old man commits suicide. A year later, he comes back to rip out James’ heart and leaves a lovely Valentine for his father, Peter Cushing, to see. This came from The Haunt of Fear #12.

“Wish You Were Here” has become the most debatable story line because people don’t seem to understand why the lead goes to hell. It is not shown what he does to make it into hell but it is mentioned that he has done some pretty evil deeds in his time on Earth. Any who, he and his wife come across a Chine figurine that grants three wishes. They wish for a lot of money and in return, the husband is killed. The wife wishes for her husband to be back the way he was before the car crash. Well, he had a heart attack and died before the crash so he comes back as a corpse in a coffin. She then wishes for him to be alive forever. Since he was embalmed, he is in a lot of pain. Well, this dumb woman just granted him eternal misery and she then tries to hack him to pieces with a sword. This is another thing that is not understood. If she wished for him to be alive forever, how does he make it into hell? Story line taken from The Haunt of Fear #22.

Last we have “Blind Alleys” where a home of elderly blind men are mistreated and have had enough. In return, the blind men lock the director and his dog up in cells then build a habitat filled with razors on the wall (I’d like to know how blind men were capable of this) and the dog attacks his owner while he’s surrounded by all the razors. Story line taken from Tales from the Crypt #46.

In the end, the crypt keeper was like, “I was just kidding. You’re already dead and that’s how you died. You’re now doomed to burn in hell for all eternity.”

What a complete mind fuck of a movie. My MGM condition is impeccable. The sound was perfect with absolutely no grain. The story revolves around a 13-year-old boy and his brother Jody, who is totally hot. Jody takes care of little Mike after the mysterious deaths of their parents and brother. Mike and Jody team up with an ice cream man named Reggie, who is balding but still has a fancy ponytail, to put a stop to the suspicious mortician they call the Tall Man. What is the deal with this Tall Man? No one even questions the way this old, scary dude walks. He walks really fast and spastic-like. It scares the shit out of me. He can transform into a hot girl and he’s filled with all this yellow goo and his body parts turn into large flies with red eyes. The Tall Man has these minions who are made from the bodies of the dead and look like something out of a Star Wars movie. I’m surprised George Lucas hasn’t sued. There’ a mysterious fortuneteller and her granddaughter that use a box to teach Mike not to be afraid. There’s a small gateway in the mausoleum that shows another world. There are these silver orbs that drill holes into it’s victim’s heads. This may be the best part of the film.

My favorite part about this film other than the silver orbs is when the young boy sees The Tall Man and his strange behavior in the grave yard and mouthes, “What the fuck?” Well I mouthed those same words throughout the entire film. I don’t even know how to explain this plot to you. NONE of it makes any sense. There are several plot holes. On ward, the older brother goes to the cemetery to have sex with The Tall Man in hot chick form and the little brother follows him to watch them during sexy time. He’s chased by one of the Tall Man’s minions and totally cock blocks his brother, which is a good thing. Favorite line while Jody has the Tall Man’s panties in his mouth, “What the heck? Wait here, it’s my little brother. I think he has some kind of problem.” His brother doesn’t believe anything that’s going on until Mike chops off the Tall Man’s fingers and saves the fingers for evidence. On their quest to get to the bottom of things, they’re chased by their dead brother who is now a dwarf. They make their way back to the mortuary where Reggie opens the portal or whatever the fuck that thing is as the entrance to another world where the midgets are working as slaves. Reggie gets killed by the Tall Man in sexy lady form and the two brothers escape, killing the Tall Man…. Sort of.

So then, the boy wakes up and it’s all a dream? He tells a living Reggie about his dream and it appears that his brother Jody died in a car crash? As well as his parents? What the hell happened to his other brother? Does he even exist? So many questions! After this scene, the boy goes back up to his room and is attacked through a mirror. What the fuck…..

My explaining this plot made about as much sense as the film. It’s okay to be confused. That being said, this is an original horror film with a chilling score. Angus Scrimm is terrifying and the entire film is jam packed with action. Don Coscarelli is a talented director who provided excellent POV shots from the silver orbs. Phantasm certainly has balls. Flying balls that is….

This is another one of those films that deserves a full review on my blog. I’ll try to keep it as short as possible. Better Off Dead is not everyone’s cup of tea. You might not even “get” a lot of the jokes. There’s a lot of cheese from the 80s but I wouldn’t call Better Off Dead cheesy. I believe “quirky” is the correct word. Amirite? There are so many unique characters to cover. For starters, the Asian guys that are always trying to race the lead character Lane (John Cusack.) The paper boy on his bicycle screaming and stalking Lane, “I WANT MY TWO DOLLARS!” The mother that boils bacon and gives TV dinners as Christmas presents. She’s always cooking something out of this world. Like that glob of green stuff filled with raisins that randomly slides off the dishes. When French people come over she serves “French fries, french dressing, french bread, and a bottle of Peru.” Only it sounds like she is saying “Fraunch” and not French. The younger brother never talks and has better luck with the ladies than Lane does. He appears to be some sort of genius and likes to blow shit to pieces. The next door neighbors are also out of this world. All of the high school students look like they’re in their 30s and they LOVE homework. The cheerleaders date an entire basketball team. The guy who plays Booger in Revenge of the Nerds has been in high school for seven years and loves snorting everything up his nose. Drawings and hamburgers come to life. Lane is obsessed with his girl Beth (Amanda Wyss from Nightmare on Elm Street) who is a dumb, superficial slut. Beth’s photograph graces every inch of Lane’s wall and even stays attached to all of his clothing on hangers in his closet. He becomes suicidal after she dumps him for some old geezer that goes to their high school and is a good skier but a complete douche. The French girl next door is good at everything. She can fix cars and knows how to ski. The only normal character just might be the dad. Poor guy just wanted a nice garage door. The music is my favorite part of the film, including Elizabeth Daily singing Better Off Dead at the prom. Elizabeth shows her tits in Valley Girls and she’s extremely short with no neck but still hot and provides her voice for the role of Tommy Pickles in Rugrats. She’s a multi-talented lady! So that’s Better Off Dead in a nut shell.