Tales of Poe (2014) Review

poe1Tales of Poe (2014)

Directed by Bart Mastronardi and Alan Rowe Kelly.

Written by Alan Rowe Kelly, Bart Mastronardi and Michael Varrati

Starring Caroline Williams, Debbie Rochon and Adrienne King.

Out Oct 11th 2016 from Wild Eye!!

“Based on the classic works of Edgar Allan Poe – a unique spin on three of Poe’s popular stories (The Tell Tale Heart, Cask of Amontillado & Dreams). Directors Bart Mastronardi & Alan Rowe Kelly weave together a compelling and suspenseful anthology that will captivate Poe enthusiasts and horror fans alike!”

I will always hold my hand up and admit to being a fan of Poe. As a writer I’m indebted to the legacy he’s left behind with exemplary works from genres such as murder mystery, the emerging genre of science fiction and, of course, horror. And it’s because of this passion for Poe that I was so keen to look at this film. I love Poe and firmly believe his stories deserve to be reimagined for contemporary audiences.

And, in two thirds of the stories presented here, that reimagining is thoroughly enjoyable.

poe3The first story is based on Poe’s ‘Tell-Tale Heart’.

The original short story seems to be bereft of motivation in that we have no idea why the unnamed narrator wants to murder the old man. Of course, some critics argue that this lack of motive is an essential part of the story’s horror – what could be more chilling than a motiveless crime? However, in our cause-and-effect outlook of modern society, this explanation can sometimes seem a little like an excuse for the story’s shortcomings.

This appropriation of ‘Tell Tale Heart’ is clever in that it changes the genders of the central characters and provides a motive far stronger than Poe managed. It’s beautifully gory (as one would expect for a story that focuses on eyeballs and essential organs from the circulatory system) and it’s very well-presented. Debbie Rochon (Dollface, Bleed and Santa Claws) delivers a chilling performance as the narrator of this segment and Alan Rowe Kelly (Grindsploitation, She Wolf Rising, Gallery of Fear) is her unfortunate victim. The original is a story of chilling tension. This version is equally tense and is delightfully bloody.

All of which sets the tone neatly for ‘The Cask’ – a short film based on Poe’s ‘A Cask of Amontillado.’ Again, this was well-developed, dancing with the idea of the original and throwing in a couple of moves that weren’t expected, but still managed to add to the impact of Poe’s work. The gore was well done. The acting was entertaining and Alan Rowe Kelly was fun as Gogo Montressor. It was good to see Randy Jones (College Debts, Bleeding Hearts) in the role of Fortunato Montressor and the whole piece was conveyed with a sense of a melodramatic noir caper.
poe2The final tale in the collection is ‘Dreams’, based on Poe’s poem of the same title. It’s a poem that is typical of Poe bleak worldview with its internal tensions between hope for a better world and acceptance of our miserable and grim reality. Stylistically the short film ‘Dreams’ is a striking piece of cinematography. ‘Tales of Poe has won awards for its cinematography and it is likely this segment that most impressed the judges. ‘Dreams’ is presented with occasional voice-over narration from the poem as those onscreen perform an interpretation of the words in a fashion that has echoes of Japanese noh theatre. Cleverly. Kelly. Mastronadi and Varrati have chosen to frame the poem’s content with a deathbed drama that gives structure to the piece. Yet, I have to admit, this was my least favourite short in this collection.

There are surreal elements that allude to the horror of death’s uncertainty and cultural fascinations with this topic. There are stunning locations and intriguing concepts. But the whole piece seemed like such a drastic stylistic change from its two predecessors that the contrast, for me, was too distracting. After the OTT blood and gore of the two previous shorts, after the fun of the melodrama and the intrigue of the noir, the elegance and subtly of ‘Dreams’ (combined with its comparatively lengthy running time) left me bemused and dissatisfied.
poe4That said, there’s a lot of horror fun to be found in this compilation including horror stalwarts such as Adrienne King (Friday the 13th and Friday the 13th Part 2), Lesleh Donaldson (Happy Birthday to Me, Curtains and Cries in the Night), and Amy Steel (Friday the 13th Part 2 and April Fool’s Day).

For lovers of Poe it’s one to enjoy whilst safely savouring a freshly retrieved Amontillado.

7/10

Hatchet 3 (2013) DVD Review

HATCHET 001HATCHET III (2013) DVD

Review by: Dave Wain

Stars: Danielle Harris, Kane Hodder, Zach Galligan, Caroline Williams, Parry Shen

Written by: Adam Green

UK Certification: 18

UK RRP: £12.99

UK DVD Region: 2

Runtime: 78 minutes

Directed by: BJ McDonnell

UK Release Date: 31st March 2014

Distributor: Metrodome

A lot has been said about the demise of the slasher film these last few years, coupled with regular face palm orientated head shaking at the amount of CGI gore that has crept into the horror industry. While this is true to an extent, with all darkness you’ll often find some light and here that light is Adam Green. The 38 year old writer / director wowed horror fans with the creation of Victor Crowley for the first Hatchet film in 2006, and despite relinquishing the director’s chair for this chapter it’s his pen that wrote the script.

Taking over behind the camera duties is BJ McDonnell, himself a veteran of the franchise as the camera operator whilst returning onscreen is genre favourite Danielle Harris, legendary stuntman Kane Hodder (Friday 13th) and Zach Galligan (Gremlins). Following a brief recap of the end of Hatchet II which saw Marybeth (Harris) dispose of Victor in the most goretastic way possible, she finds herself in the local police department holding the prized scalp of Victor Crowley. Sheriff Fowler (Galligan) attempts to get to the bottom of Marybeth’s story but finds it hard to get past how unbelievable it sounds – that is until an on-site report from his colleagues uncover the scale of the carnage.

HATCHET 002As the Sheriff heads to the scene to begin his investigation, a nosey local reporter Amanda Pullman (‘Stretch’ from TCM2 no less) is keen to do a piece on this fast breaking story. After being rebuffed by the Sheriff, she decides the only way to get on board the case is to post bail for Marybeth. Meanwhile, back in the swamp the body (or bits of) of Victor Crowley has been recovered and body-bagged and placed on board the boat that carried the police to the scene of crime. Thankfully though, as Marybeth had dismembered him to such an extreme degree, he surely couldn’t possibly post any further threat now… could he? Damn right he could – he’s back, and only one woman can end this.

For reasons of full disclosure I have to admit I’m a fully-fledged member of the Hatchet fan club, and even if this second sequel was the horror equivalent of Plan 9 from Outer Space I have a nagging suspicion that somehow I’d manage to find something glowing to say about it. However, that is most certainly not the case as Adam Green has delivered a film that takes the rule of diminishing sequels, rips it up and fires a 12 gauge right into its heart. Most heartening is the fact that this sequel feels like a natural progression, as opposed to a cynically created vacuous bit of filler. As always it’s great to see your much loved character return such as Marybeth, and here Danielle Harris proves that she’s an undoubted horror icon. Kane Hodder too embodies the prosthetics of Victor Crowley, and we even get a Jason vs Jason face-off as Hodder does battle with Derek Mears who played the Friday 13th icon in the remake. Also, special credit to Parry Shen as well (playing his third different character in this franchise!) who brings some welcome humour to the movie.

HATCHET 003The Hatchet films are horror movies made by horror people for horror fans. It’s that simple. Victor Crowley is an excellent creation, and the way the series uses practical effects so prominently surely demands a level of respect towards it. The transition from Adam Green to BJ McDonnell as director is seamless no doubt due his role on the previous two films, and the fact that the series creator is still writing the sequels is a badge of quality all in itself. If you say you’re a horror-fiend, and you DON’T have any of the Hatchet films in your collection, then use the release of Hatchet III to remedy that. It’s a blood soaked love letter to the slasher genre.

7.5 out of 10