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Mini Reviews (October 2001)

Little Witches, Terror Tract, After Midnight, Twists of Terror

Little Witches (October 11/01)

And I thought The Craft sucked. Little Witches one-ups The Craft by containing a lot of nudity, but fails in every other respect. The acting sucks, the dialogue sucks even more, and the whole thing just looks cheap. The story is basically this - a bunch of girls at a Catholic school decide to pass the time by resurrecting the Devil. That's it. Along the way, they get in trouble with the various nuns and priests that run the school, tease the lone fat girl, and shed their clothes for no reason whatsoever. And by the time they do summon Lucifer, the production apparently ran out of money because you never get a good look at the dude. It's all shadows and hand puppets.

no stars out of

Terror Tract (October 23/01)

Featuring three stories that are almost entirely worthless except for their nifty endings, Terror Tract is the latest anthology horror flick. The first story deals with a cheatin' couple that offs the woman's husband. Gee, wonder if he'll come back from the dead? The second tale is about a happy Leave it to Beaver-esque family that's torn apart by a sinister monkey (no, I'm not kidding). And the last one features a young man with a psychic link to a homicidal maniac dubbed "the granny killer" because he/she slashes his/her victims while wearing an old-lady mask. The wraparound story stars John Ritter as a desperate realtor hoping to make a sale. As he takes a happily married young couple from house to house, he's "legally obligated" to tell them about the horrible things that happened within. None of the three stories are particularly compelling (they are, in fact, downright boring most of the time) but those twist endings are a lot of fun (the ending of the second tale is amazingly unbelievable, but enjoyable nonetheless). Terror Tract might be worth a cheap rental, but don't expect any scares, gore or even laughs. And what is a "tract" anyway?

out of

After Midnight (October 31/01)

And while I'm on the theme of anthology horror flicks, After Midnight fares substantially better than Terror Tract. The wraparound story this time features an after-hours meeting between the students and professor of a "psychology of fear" course. The prof believes that the only way to truly understand fear is to know fear. So, he invites the gang over to his house for a night of scary stories - while a humiliated fellow classmate (the prof scared him so much during a session, he peed his pants in front of everyone) is lurking in the shadows with an axe. Again, a trilogy of stories are presented. The first follows a young couple as they wind up stranded next to an old house, and decide to break inside to call for help (but is the house still inhabited by a crazed killer?) The next tale features four teenaged girls who are refused entry into a club and wind up searching for a private party in the warehouse district. Obviously, they get lost and this story turns into a female version of Judgment Night, with the girls on the run from a lunatic and his seething German Shepards. The final installment stars Marg Helgenberger as an operator for an answering service who finds herself terrorized by the demented fan of a famous soap actress. After Midnight is consistently entertaining, though strangely enough, the middle story doesn't have a twist ending. I always assumed that was a rule with these things. The wraparound story is a little lame, but the individual tales are quite well done and not entirely predictable (which was the chief problem with Terror Tract). And besides, how can you go wrong with a flick that features the girl from Mr. Belvedere being mauled to death by crazy dogs?

out of

Twists of Terror (October 31/01)

Ah, what the hell...let's make it a hat trick. Yes, Twists of Terror is also an anthology horror flick, again featuring three tales loosely tied together by a lame wraparound story. This time, it's a crazy guy (how do we know he's crazy? He refers to everything outside his home as "the out there") talking directly into the camera and presenting us with three different stories designed to dissuade the viewer from venturing into "the out there." The first tale (and easily the most entertaining) follows a young couple (Jennifer Rubin and some other guy) who, after a night of celebrating their anniversary, wind up in a car accident. They hitch a ride with a suspicious-looking weirdo, and soon find themselves under attack. But did one of them arrange the whole thing? The second story (and easily the worst) features Nick Mancuso as an irate businessman stranded after his rental car breaks down. After trying to call for help at a gas station (and being attacked by an equally irate dog), he stumbles into a hospital that just happens to be across the street. Once inside, some bad shit starts to go down. The third and final installment tells the story of a shy young woman that allows herself to be picked up by a handsome stranger one night at a bar. The two share a night of passion, but (obviously) evil lurks - the question is, which one is hiding their true identity? What really kills Twists of Terror is the painfully dull second story, which just seems to go on and on for far too long. And by the time the twist comes, it's really hard to care. The third tale isn't bad, but after that second one, all of my interest had vanished and was replaced by growing irritation. Mancuso was good, though, as was Jennifer Rubin (she was also in the dreadful Little Witches - it's really a shame that she's getting typecast as a horror chick).

out of

© David Nusair