Each October, I watch an absurd amount of horror from mid-September until at least Halloween. And each year, my viewing selections take on a certain flavor. One year, I watched a lot of B-movie horrors. Another year, it was arthouse horror. This year, my 45ish days of horror have been peppered with anthologies. Even when I wasn’t trying to watch horror anthologies, I still managed to watch horror anthologies. I have yet to see a few major entries into the anthology horror genre, but I do feel qualified to create a perfect horror anthology. And I’m going to do it by sewing together some of my favorite vignettes from various anthologies. Call it Frankanthologystein.
Every horror anthology has a wraparound. The wraparound is the base story that appears throughout the film, and serves as a portal into the various individual vignettes in a horror anthology. Usually, the wraparound has a strong horror element in its own right, serving almost as a bonus vignette. Unfortunately, it’s also usually the worst of the vignettes. However, one recent wraparound really stands out for me. If you’re a regular reader, then you know what I’m about to say- Trick ‘r Treat (2008) is my wraparound. I’m about to choose four great vignettes and spackle them together. I need something to make it all work. With all due respect to Peter Cushing, nothing would work better than little Sam.
Vignette #1: Blind Alleys
One of the things I learned this month is that Amicus Pictures reigns supreme in the world of the horror anthology. I’ve loved all of the Amicus films that I’ve seen but the one that I’ve enjoyed the most is Tales from the Crypt (1972). And my favorite vignette from that film is Blind Alleys, wherein a cruel director for a home for the blind is served a healthy heaping dose of revenge from the blind people he has tortured.
Vignette #2: Something to Tide You Over
Creepshow (1982) was directed by George Romero, and several vignettes were written by Stephen King. That’s quite a dynamic duo of terror. So it’s no surprise that I’d carve out a body part from Creepshow for my Frankanthologystein. The vignette I’ve chosen features Leslie Nielsen as a vicious jilted lover whose elaborate revenge on his cheating wife is to bury her and her lover (Ted Danson) up to their necks on the beach as the tide comes in. But their seaweed-covered corpses return to exact revenge. Zombie Ted Danson is a valuable piece for any Frankanthologystein to have.
Vignette #3: The Christmas Party
If you’ve seen Tales from the Crypt, your first thought was probably of the evil Santa scene featuring Joan Collins. But keep in mind that Amicus drew great inspiration from Dead of Night (1945), one of the original horror anthology films (and the film ranked #11 on Martin Scorsese’s list of scariest films). Dead of Night also featured a bone-chilling Christmas sequence about two teens hiding in remote corners of a spooky old house during a Christmas party, where the young girl discovers a frightened child. She consoles him, tucks him in, and then makes a shocking discovery. It’s horror at its best, and my Frankanthology has to pay homage to a classic like Dead of Night.
Vignette #4: Frozen Fear
Amicus strikes twice in my Frankanthology with this tale from Asylum (1972). It includes adultery, murder, voodoo, and more murder. Put it this way- Frozen Fear is the Citizen Kane of horror shorts featuring severed, animated torsos.
Honorable mentions include all of Black Sabbath (1963), “Lot 249” from Tales from the Darkside (1990), the wraparound set-up of Asylum, a bunch of stuff from V/H/S (2012), “Amelia” from Trilogy of Terror (1975), and “Cut” from Three… Extremes (2004).