Friday, October 11, 2013

31 DAYS OF FRIGHT: Anthology Flick Friday Visits the TOMB OF TERROR (So You Don't Have To)

If you think Full Moon flicks can be hard to follow and occasionally incoherent even at feature length, wait till you get a load of them "re-edited and re-energized from past classic films" down to anthology-sized chunks!

Eschewing any kind of wrap-around and simply plunging us right into the re-titled mini-features, TOMB starts off with 'Ascent from Hell' truncated from the 1994 feature DARK ANGEL: THE ASCENT directed by Linda Hassani and starring Angela Featherstone as Veronica, the beautiful but misunderstood demon girl who just wants to see what it's like in the world up there. It's kinda like Disney's THE LITTLE MERMAID if Ariel had wings and devil horns and instead of King Triton her dad was Nicholas Worth in bondage gear who spit-screams lines like "I'll teach you what it means to SCOFF AT THE LAW!!!" like only Nicholas Worth can. Unable to resist the call of the mortal world Veronica climbs out of a sewer into somewhere in Europe (who knew?!) and your typical "cute but demonic vigilante out of water" tale ensues. She kills some baddies, torments the town's mayor (whose major misdeeds must have been left on the editing room floor) and falls for hunky doctor Max (Daniel Markell) who doesn't think it's weird that his hot new girlfriend has no heartbeat, calls television "the magic box" and sprouts horns and claws while they're getting it on.

In the middle segment, genre vets Ashley Laurence (the HELLRAISER flicks) and Jeffrey Combs unite in the horror/heist tale 'Infinite Evil' which has been carved from the HP Lovecraft-inspired feature LURKING FEAR (1994). When parolee John Martense (Blake Adams) discovers that his father and Vincent Schiavelli stuffed a cash-filled corpse in a graveyard, he heads off to Leffert's Corners unaware that a trio of bad guys who know about the cash are hot on his trail. It all comes to a head in a graveyard church where Dr. Haggis (Combs), Cathryn (Laurence) and a handful of locals have taken refuge from the family of cannibalistic underground dwellers who emerge during rainstorms to feast, unaware that the mysterious John is more closely connected to the subterranean monsters than any of them realize.

Wrapping up our little trio of tales is 'Eternal Damnation' (which the box also calls 'Evil Never Dies'), a refreshingly gory little morsel snipped from the millennial horror tale THE TALISMAN by director David DeCoteau (under the name Victoria Sloan). Elias (Billy Parish) is the new kid at the sinister sounding Gornek International School for Boys, a dumping ground for rich American brats like Burke (Jason Adelman), a blonde thug who makes other kids do pushups in their underwear and fantasizes about making it with Elizabeth (Ilinca Goia), the daughter of the head mistress. Meanwhile, Theriel (Constantine Barbulescu), an Uncle Fester lookalike with glowing red eyes, is going around yanking out the hearts of stunned, blood-spattered students. I bet that's gonna hurt enrollment! Can Elias find out who's behind the disappearances and thwart their evil plan... before it's too late?

I'm not exactly sure who the intended audience for TOMB OF TERROR was. Even the best movie would likely suffer from having two-thirds of its running time chopped out and the "re-edited and re-energized" shorts offered here all start out okay but eventually become incoherent messes. DARK ANGEL's straightforward (ie, predictable) storyline probably survives the cuts the best while THE TALISMAN – despite the gore provided by Uncle Fester – veers closest to being unwatchable. C. Courtney Joyner's LURKING FEAR, while jumbled beyond belief at points, is definitely (okay, maybe?) the one I'll track down in its full-length form, but I'm a sucker for crucifix-fu, horror-action hybrids and anything with Combs.

Strangely enough, all three segments deal with issues of family... Victoria defies her parents in order to explore the world of the mortals while Demon Mom and Demon Dad must learn to let their little demon go; John struggles with the loser legacy of his father and must fight the monster within; and, Elias – orphaned as a youngster – longs to find out what happened to his older sister. I'm not sure anybody at Full Moon had the foresight to thematically collect these tales, but if they did would it have killed them to come up with a better title or at least some kind of goony linking device?

If anthologies are your thing this one is easily skippable and if you dig Full Moon (and I pity you if that's the case) you're probably better served seeking out the original features.

TOMB OF TERROR is available at Amazon.

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