SLICES OF LIFE (2010)

Directed by Anthony G. Sumner
Written by Anthony G. Sumner, Eric Richter, & Alan Rowe Kelly
Starring Kaylee Williams, Jack Guasta, & Toya Turner
Slices of Life Website

Low budget horror is tough to review. But as the above review of MONSTERS proves, just because something doesn’t rack in at a jillion million dollars, that doesn’t mean it’s not worth viewing. Looking back at some of my favorite horror films (NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD, for instance, which makes a cameo in this film), the horror came from the creativity of the filmmakers not the budget and if the talent is there, it doesn’t matter what style of camera was used or what the cost clocked in as. I’ve seen a ton of low budget horror of varying qualities and I will be the first to admit that a lot of horror is crap. But just because it’s a cheaply made film, doesn’t necessarily mean it’s not good. Take SLICES OF LIFE for instance.

SLICES OF LIFE is an anthology (which is a subgenre of horror I can’t get enough of), and as with most anthologies, some of the short stories are better than others. I have my favorite, but honestly, all of the shorts brought to life by these filmmakers are damn good and full of scares.

The first short, called “W.O.R.M.” follows a nebbish computer nerd who dreams of greatness. As with many folks at the bottom of the totem pole in the business world, our nerd has a unique perspective of the company he works for which is trying to develop new modes of interactive technology. This short has a Cronenberg-feel as a virus spreads via email turning the users into the walking dead. There’s an especially creepy sequence where our nerd has computer sex with another woman online and the keyboard and mouse turn into fleshy, sexual instruments. Early Cronenberg classics such as RABID, and VIDEODROME come to mind as obvious inspiration for this first bit. I’m all for new ways for the zombie plague to get around. Using the internet to spread the virus is something fun. Although using modern technology as a means to spread a virus has been done elsewhere (Stephen King’s CELL comes to mind), this short was a great way to lead off the film and lets one know that they’re in for a fun and gory ride.

Up next is “Amber Alert” which opens with a really chilling sequence involving a child abduction. The scene is well shot and amps up the tension but good in this story full of themes of the fear of children and the horrors of parenthood (themes also seen in the Cronenberg classic THE BROOD). The effects in this episode are especially chilling, as a pregnant woman is terrorized by visions of a ghostly little girl. This one was probably the scariest of the bunch, even though the ending is a bit predictable.

”Pink Snapper” is the next little goodie, a gory thriller that may have a few too many coincidences for my liking, but these types of things happen in stories like this. This story of a couple on the run after killing a cop. The couple stumbles across a home of what looks to be a serial killer, but nothing is what it seems in this one. Out of all of the shorts in this film, this has the best acting, and by far, the hottest cast for that matter (Daneen Melody and Judith Lesser both give pretty fantastic and sultry performances and even look good covered in blood, ai chi wha whaaa!). But when the red stuff starts splattering in this one, it doesn’t stop. Hell, after watching this little twist on ALIEN, TEETH, and another Cronenberg classic SHIVERS, I felt I had to take a shower to wash away all of that blood.

As with all of the best anthologies, this one is tied together with a story that plays out in the final moments. In SLICES OF LIFE, it’s tied together with a Barker-esque BOOKS OF BLOOD style story entitled “Sketcher” about a chick that wakes up with partial amnesia and keeps finding books made of flesh and blood. These creepy mid-segments are made creepier when older actress Helene Alter-Dyche steals the show as she throat-ily moans out sad songs and sips martinis in a nightgown and curlers. The actress adds a ick-factor that is pretty amazing.

Though a fair share of the folks in this film seem like non-actors or friends of the filmmakers (apart from the “Pink Snapper” sequence, that is), this film delivers on every other level. Even when some of the performances fall short, the filmmakers know how to make up for it by inducing scares and splattering bodily fluids around by the barrel-full. SLICES OF LIFE premiered at this year’s Horror Society Film Festival in Chicago at the Portage Theater and I hear the film got a standing O. Chicago being my base of operations, I was fully intending on going, but I busted my ankle up pretty good and ended up on crutches and vicodin for Halloween, so I missed it. Too bad. I would have been right there among the standing had I been there. I’m glad I had a chance to check out SLICES OF LIFE though. It’s a fun and gory anthology full of things that turn the stomach and tingle the spine.

More often than not, the more zeros in the budget equals the less actual frights. I’d much rather see my horror low budget and high in the fright factor than vice versa.

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