What is so ironically apt about each of the six stories within the anthology horror of "The Theatre Bizarre" is the equally deep and delicious understanding of the titular premise – meaning disgusting is catch of the day. All brutal, vile and downright cringe worthy, the terror tales here are not simply clever quick quips for the "Creepshow" crowd, but sick stories with the goal to gross out. (And they do indeed!) In "Tales From The Crypt" fashion the film is wrapped around a disturbing show set in an abandoned theatre and led by the creepy Udo Kier. (And with Kier sporting some heavy and eerie face makeup it truly sets an eccentrically odd tone. (And Kier was already strange to begin with!) So since some stories do have more impact then others, let’s break down all short stories "The Theatre Bizarre" has to offer one by one.
The Mother of Toads is a mixed bag, with a fairly standard tale of a man looking for an ancient evil relic who’s seduced by haggard old witch, but also containing some tasty bits courtesy of Director Richard Stanley. Meaning for all the gamey acting and overall cheddar cheese vibe there’s also some cool creature effects and one killer love scene. (What do you expect from the guy who filmed the hot shower tryst between Dylan McDermott and Stacey Travis in "Hardware?!") Fun and frightful, but also at times forgettable.
I Love You, helmed by Buddy Giovinazzo, is like a fantastic mystery that feels almost Hitchcockian in its calculated delivery, with lead man Andre Hennicke giving a freakishly fueled performance as a man on the edge of sanity over his obsession with a woman he loves – unfortunately love kills.
Tom Savini’s Wet Dreams is a sometimes too clever little ditty where, surprise, surprise, the effects far outshine all other elements. Meaning the amateur acting, uneven feel and jumpy editing all take a firm and fun backseat to Savini doing what he does best – grossing us out.
The beauty of The Accident is it’s a poignant psychological drama masked as a piece of horrific cinema. Not that the tale of a brutal highway crash as told through the eyes of a weary child isn't disconcerting, but there’s a memorable mood by Director Douglas Buck that’s way too well-crafted to ignore and it’s lingering effect here is no accident.
I’ve made my opinion be well known on this one – Vision Stains is by far the best of the bunch. A highly original can’t-take-your-eyes-off-it stunner, it contains everything that makes a horror vignette perfect. A scary story (female serial killer drains the vitreous fluid out of her victims eyeballs at the point of death then injects her own ocular cavity to experience their memories – WOW!), a knockout female performance (actress Kaniehtiio Horn is riveting – one to watch!) and a chilling score to die for. (Composer Simon Boswell harks back to his early work – think "Near Dark" meets "Hardware" music coolness!) Writer/Director Karim Hussain may humbly claim to be just a cinematographer, but for my money he's a five-star filmmaker.
David Gregory’s Sweets is classic theater bizarre – full of sinful shock and spectacle. The tale of a couple with an unhealthy love of food whose eventual gluttony leads to a dark place is the epitome of what the film stands for. Sweets is like eating an entire box of delectable chocolates in one sitting – and then facing the consequences.