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A TASTE OF PHOBIA (2017)
Directed by Lorenzo Zanoni & Alessandro Sisti (“Caetophobia”), Chris Milewski (“Pharmacophobia”), Alessandro Redaelli (“Parthenophobia”), Jason Impey (“Coprophobia”), Poison Rogue (“Mysophobia”), Dusting Ferguson (“Mazeophobia”), Alessandro Giordani (“Astophobia”), Domiziano Cristopharo (“Mageirocophobia”), Rob Ulitski (“Gerascophobia”), Jackson Batchelor (“Politocophobia”), Sophia Cacciola & Michael J. Epstein (“Somniphobia”), Sam Mason-Bell (“Oneirophobia”), Davide Pesca (“Hemophobia”)
Written by Lucia Nicolai (“Caetophobia”), Chris Milewski (“Pharmacophobia”), Ruggero Melis & Alessandro Redaelli (“Parthenophobia”), Jason Impey (“Coprophobia”), Domiziano Cristopharo & Tony Newton (“Mysophobia”), Dusting Ferguson (“Mazeophobia”), Alessandro Giordani (“Astophobia”), Domiziano Cristopharo (“Mageirocophobia”), Rob Ulitski (“Gerascophobia”), Jackson Batchelor (“Politocophobia”), Sophia Cacciola & Michael J. Epstein (“Somniphobia”), Sam Mason-Bell (“Oneirophobia”), Davide Pesca (“Hemophobia”)
Find out more about this film
A TASTE OF PHOBIA is a collection of short films from around the world, each dealing with one phobia. Watching these films in succession not only offers up a fantastic array of fears and horrors, but it also offers a glimpse at different cultures and mindsets. It’s a fascinating film because of this. I’ll be covering each installment in the paragraphs below. Get ready to embrace your fears!
“Caetophobia – Fear of Hair” opens with a woman bound to a support beam intercut with a man shaving every bit of his body. After an escape attempt is foiled, the hairless weirdo recaptures her and a particularly gruesome method of hair removal is done. The hairless guy is especially freaky looking and his methods are twisted and bloody. Ending on a pretty comical note, this is a great way to start things off.
“Pharmacophobia – Fear of Medication” focuses on a pharmacist who has had it with the pharmaceutical industry, not believing in their inflated prices and false cure-all promises. So when he gets sick, he refuses to take any medication. Dreaming he is relaxing on a beach, the pharmacist is soon haunted by the very pills he prescribes.
“Parthenophobia – Fear of Virgins” is about a filmmaker making the porn version of LA DOLCE VIDA and a porn actor who has a problem with virginity. When he is forced to work with an actress who has never had sex, the porn actor has some difficulties performing. This one is somewhat comical, if you think porn names for major films like DOGGYSTLE AFTERNOON and 8 ½ INCHES is funny and ends on a rather tragic note.
“Corpophobia – Fear of Feces” is a fear you knew was going to come up. This one is about a man who seems to have a fear of taking a dump and struggles with lifting the toilet bowl. And once he does, there’s a good reason for this. Yes, this is a foul one with poo splatter and puking into the camera. Not for the squeamish, there is a comical tone to it all as the man literally does battle with a pile of turds in
his own bathroom. I’m glad this one was a short film, so it…passes quickly.
“Mysophobia – Fear of Germs” has a cleanly man entering a hotel room and unpacking all of his hygienic protection against germs. Laying down on plastic sheets, nightmares of germs cause him to tear the plastic. This results in a rather extreme and bloody reaction. This one’s got a haunting little ending that is done extremely well on a low budget.
“Mazeophobia – Fear of Mazes” is a rough one. Bad acting. Little sense is made. There’s really isn’t even a maze to be afraid of. Instead, the story of a Mexican man who gets lost in Southern Texas turns out to be a political statement that really doesn’t seem to have a place here. Had the story been “Fear of Nationalism” or something like that, it would have made more sense, but the clumsy way this one was executed makes this one of the less effective entries in this anthology.
“Astrophobia – Fear of Stars” is about a man who meets a fascinating woman in a bar called Laniakea. But just as the mysterious woman captures the man’s heart, he becomes fascinated with the meaning of her name which takes him on a metaphysical journey into madness. This one is a heady story about love, obsession, and madness, showing how love can be a blessing to some and a devastating horror to others. I found this one to be rather soulful and one of the most layered entries in the collection.
“Magierocophobia – Fear of Cooking” addresses everything that can go wrong with preparing a meal. There are severed body parts, talking dead fish with hypnotic eyes, and heads in the oven. Foodies might want to stay away from this one as well as those who don’t like mixing food with their gore. But this is a comical little number that passes by quickly and has some fun using some Lichtenstein style comic book panels.
“Gerascophobia – Fear of Aging” is a piece about vanity and the horrors that can come from it. When a new invention called “The Swap” insures that you can never grow old by swapping your old body with a younger newer one, an aging model decides to start saving. But with his popularity waning and the jobs stalling, he becomes desperate and buys a bootleg model with dire results. This one is simple, but visually engaging. Sure there’s a twist and this one has a good one. It’s a devious short that pulls no punches.
“Politicophobia – Fear of Politics” is a fear I think all of us have these days. This is a surreal and non-linear short that barrages you with strange imagery mixed with some political satire such as a clown-faced politician, a voting box with eyes and a mouth, and a voter who literally goes mad trying to figure out who to vote for. With the world the way it is, this segment proves to be the most relevant of the bunch.
“Somniphobia – Fear of Sleep” swirls around a designer who has a big assignment due and is going on little sleep and food with much work to be done. When a shady food delivery service drops off some tainted take out, the man is guilted into staying awake in order to finish the work. The man goes to some pretty drastic lengths to keep his eyes open, resulting in some grueling and gory moments. This one goes by too soon to be as impactful as it could be. Still, it is worth a chuckle and a wince or two.
“Onierophobia – Fear of Dreams” is another surreal one about a girl who is having a nightmare while sleeping next to her boyfriend. The colorful and bizarre landscape is intercut with the banality of the scenes of the couple sleeping. When dreams and reality mix, it proves to be truly unlucky for both the dreamer and the sound sleeper. This is another shortie, but the simplicity of the story really packs a punch when mixed with some graphic and outlandish imagery of the dreams. Good one.
“Nyctophobia – Fear of the Dark” is another quickie, but for some reason this one struck home with me. Though brief, the pacing is really well done and the horrors that occur once the lights are out are pretty terrifying.
The film ends with “Hematophobia – Fear of Blood” which focuses on a young girl we see throughout the entire film as a connecting tissue between these segments. Some of the best anthologies have wraparound stories that are as compelling as the stories collected. Unfortunately, this isn’t the case with this one as it simply goes for the gross out factor and makes little sense narratively as the girl confronts a bloody scene on the TV screen she is watching and feels the urge to do the same to her own flesh. Unfortunately, this ends the film on a whimper, compared to some of the more potent segments in the earlier half. A TASTE OF PHOBIA does a great job of highlighting some talent from around the world. While every segment isn’t a winner, for the most part it is an effective little dip into some horrifying subject matter. Most of the segments do a great job with the low budgets that they had, proving that there is a lot of talent out there making short horror fiction these days and plenty of folks deserving of a shot to make some feature film horrors in the future.
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