Deadtime Stories: Volume 1 (2009)

Directors: Jeff Monahan, Michael Fischa, Tom Savini

Starring: Amy Marsalis, Jeff Monahan, Bingo O’Malley, Jason Norman

“Now I lay me down to rest, but there’s a goblin upon my chest. He’s grey and ugly and very gory, and he wants to tell me a Deadtime Story.” (George Romero, Deadtime Stories Volume 1)

Utter the name George A Romero to any self-respecting horror fan and they’ll fire off any of his classic zombie films in your direction. The “holy trilogy” of Night Of The Living Dead, Dawn Of The Dead and Day Of The Dead remain the definitive zombie series to this day and while his recent zombie films haven’t really met the same standards you can forgive the guy a bit because of his past glories. This shite, however, is unforgivable.

Oh George. What happened? You used to be a symbol of quality horror

For you see, it is Mr George A Romero’s name that you will see on the DVD cover of Deadtime Stories, or (to give it its full title) George A Romero Presents Deadtime Stories Volume 1. It’s Mr Romero himself who introduces this 75-minute anthology consisting of three horror stories. And it’s good old George who gets an executive producer credit on all three of these bland tales. Frankly then George, you should be ashamed of yourself, because these three stories are weaker than a hamster’s piss, and as a man who created such legendary films in the past you fucking know it too. 

You know a story’s bad when the entire plot can be fully explained in one sentence, and this is the case for all three tales here. To summarise then:

"I'll be honest with you Gareth, this is the first time I've ever tried face-painting"

1) Valley Of The Shadow – A woman takes a group into the jungle to search for her missing husband, and they all die.
2) Wet – A man digs up a mermaid, is told to put it back, refuses to do so and is then turned into a mermaid himself.
3) Housecall – A doctor’s called to examine a teen claiming to be a vampire, but it turns out the doctor’s a vampire too and he kills his mum.

There you go, I’ve just saved you 75 minutes.  Imagine those simple tales strung out for the entire length of a TV episode each. The first one doesn’t even have a fucking twist for Christ’s sake. Off they go to try and find her husband… and they die. That’s it. There’s no mysterious power that caused it, no surprise ending where it turns out he’s joined a tribe and then he kills her or anything like that. They just stick on a stupid scene at the end where her head’s on a spike but she keeps talking anyway, a scene that makes no sense whatsoever.

There's no point checking her pulse mate, I think it's fairly obvious she's dead

After which it’s time for Uncle George to crack a shitty line (and I mean an absolutely terrible one, one that isn’t even funny, something like “talk about a bad situation”), and we’re onto the next one, the bloody mermaid thing. Much of the first half of this film is just two guys staring angrily at each other for ages while one is trying to sell a box to the other while the other keeps saying “no, there was a mermaid in it, you should bury her again”. After an eternity the guy goes home and the mermaid comes out, eats the guy’s balls then turns him into a mermaid for no reason. And then she grabs the other guy and they both DISAPPEAR. What?

A horrible accident involving raspberry sauce and a Cadbury's Flake ended Colin The Midget's ice-cream career abruptly

Finally, there’s Housecall, a story which actually had potential because it was directed by legendary effects supremo and longtime Romero chum Tom Savini. Right away you can tell there’s at least some effort going on in this one as Savini tries an odd aspect ratio, lowers the frame rate and gives the film an old 1920s horror feel, something that saves this entire package from an infamous half-a-Trevor score here on TWABM. Ultimately though, the plot’s about as complex as a Jedward song and the film ends, this time leading to feelings of disappointment rather than the anger spawned by the other two.

Simply put, this film is gash. Do not under any circumstances be fooled by the George A Romero name on the box, as his total contribution adds up to around two minutes of him sitting in a chair reading from a book. You’d swear a group of amateur filmmakers had just turned up in his living room with a camcorder, given him a big book and said “do us a favour and read from that mate”.

At one point during the first tale in Deadtime Stories, one of the crew in the jungle questions the main lass’s prediction that they’ll find her husband in 48 hours. “You think we’re going to make it in two days?” he asks. In hindsight, that wasn’t such a ridiculous question, because it seems like this whole bastard film was put together in a similar timeframe. Stay well away from this garbage, or the next Deadtime Story you’ll be telling will be about the time you bought a horrible DVD and effectively pissed a tenner against a wall.

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