Review: George A. Romero's Deadtime Stories Volume 2 / Directed by: Jeff Monahan, Matt Walsh / Screenplay by: Jeff Monahan / Starring: Amanda Frost, Nick Mancuso, Amy Marsalis
George A. Romero's Deadtime Stories: Volume 2 is a major disappointment from one of cinema's foremost masters of horror. With Romero himself hosting the intros and outros of this anthology through screens of a pyramid of old TV sets, he comes off as a Poor Man's version of the Cryptkeeper complete with bad, very bad, puns. It's as if he was phoning in his performance and from the looks of the set, maybe he was. Romero's dialogue is flat, making him unappealing as a storyteller. Even John Carpenter had more life in him back when he had a similar role in the poorly recieved TV anthology movie Body Bags back in '93. At least he was fun and campy. Romero reminded me in looks of the owner of a bookstore I used to manage who used to talk like a cross between the Lords of the Rings' Golem and horror icon Peter Lorre. At least that guy would have been more entertaining!
The three horror stories featured come off as student films that are weakly written, though competently directed. It's as if we've heard these tales before and know the punch line before we get to the end.
The first story, The Gorge, is reminiscent of Neil Marshall's far superior film The Descent, where three best friends are trapped in an underground cave, one of which has a broken ankle. Without immediate hope of rescue, what will they do to survive?
The whiney, sexually frustrated characters are unlikeable and you kind of wish they would have done a Monty Python camera pan when we first meet them to the real cave explorers. Watching paint dry would be a better activity than to spend 30 minutes viewing the first episode.
ON SABBATH HILL is the second story, which while the title might be great, it really doesn't have anything to do with the story. A family man, university professor who is a real hard nose in class (we've all met this type before) has an affair with one of his students getting her pregnant. She wants to keep the baby and he realizes that his career that he worked so hard for will come to an end. Inevitably, the student commits suicide for the entire class to see and the professor's guilty conscious begins to take its toll as she haunts him.
Here is a missed opportunity where it looked like the students themselves were starting to set the teacher up for his evil ways, but alas, no such plot device is used and it basically a paint-by-numbers plot.
The third and most promising, until the cop-out ending is Dust. A security guard who works at a high-tech lab learns that a scientist has been experimenting with dust from the planet Mars that has the ability to cure cancer. Knowing that his dying wife has only four months to live, the guard steals a sample of dust and injects it into her IV bag, rejuventing the woman causing her to have a voracious appetite for sex ending with disaterous results.
This episode was the most entertaining if it wasn't for the "gee, how do we end this," ending. The first two acts are interesting before the writer ran out of ideas and decided, ("I know! George Romero did this before!") and went for a Night of the Living Dead tag-on.
Expected rating: 5 out of 10
George A. Romero's Deadtime Stories: Volume 2 is out now on Region 1 DVD. UK release TBC, but Vol. 1 is available here.