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ASYLUM: TWISTED HORROR & FANTASY TALES (2020)

Directed by Carlos Goitia (“Asylum” Wraparound), Damien LeVeck (“The Cleansing Hour”), Kheireddine El-Helou (“Drudge”), Mat Johns (“A Father’s Day”), Albert Pinto & Caye Casas (“RIP”), Alejandro Damiani (“M.A.M.O.N.”), Walgenwitz & Winshluss (“The Death, Dad, and Son”), Andrew Desmond (“Entity”), Adam O´Brien (“Bloodbath”), Hendryk Witscherkowsky (“The Last Show”)
Written by Carlos Goitia (“Asylum” Wraparound), Damien LeVeck (“The Cleansing Hour”), Kheireddine El-Helou (“Drudge”), Mat Johns (“A Father’s Day”), Albert Pinto & Caye Casas (“RIP”), Alejandro Damiani (“M.A.M.O.N.”), Walgenwitz & Winshluss (“The Death, Dad, and Son”), Andrew Desmond (“Entity”), Adam O´Brien (“Bloodbath”), Hendryk Witscherkowsky (“The Last Show”), Mauro Croche, Guillermo Lockhart
Starring Raymond Lee, Sam Jaeger, Itziar Castro, Bruno Giacobbe, Clara Kovacic, Cristian Majolo, Ariadna Asturzzi, Germán Baudino, Claudio Medina
Find out more about this film here!!

ASYLUM: TWISTED HORROR & FANTASY TALES is a collection of short films from directors around the world. It begins with a wraparound centering on a clown, not unlike Richard Brake’s Clown from 31, who monologues about the horrors of life to an unknown audience. It’s not bad, just a little overlong. The actor playing the clown is decent enough, I just think these scenes are a bit overwritten for my tastes. Still, they provide a short and sweet throughway between stories and that’s all I expect from a wraparound segment.

It Looks like this first short was the one that inspired THE CLEANSING HOUR, a film I just reviewed. I think I like this short more than I liked the feature length film it turned into. It bores down to the basics, focusing on a charlatan priest leading faux exorcisms on a Youtube exorcism show. But when the woman bound to the chair is really possessed, the priest is forced to try to perform a real exorcism. I preferred this one because it had a much bleaker ending. Still, the feature is decent possession fun if you’re looking for that.

“Drudge” is more of a proof of concept of a cool Chromeskull-like character with an awesome multi-weapons system built into an arm gauntlet. The killer has a pretty sweet grappling hook, nail gun, and bayonette action in his gauntlet, and this short has some solid action, but very little story.

“A Father’s Day” is a surprisingly sentimental shortie as a pair of outcast zombies pair up and begin to look out for one another like a father and daughter in a decimated world. This one feels like an extension of where George Romero was going with his zombie universe where the zombies evolve from mindless husks to eventually remembering their own humanity. I loved the way this film contrasted the downright gory moments of cannibalism and zombification with soft music and gentle slo mo, making this a rare and poignant tale of hope rather than the usual nihilistic zombie worldview.

The funeral is all set up, the food is set out, the guests are all here, but the corpse just won’t cooperate. That’s the premise of “RIP” a clever and charming story about a man who is told he would die in 48 hours by his doctor. But when his time runs out, he is still alive, much to the shock and disappointment of his wife who has already prepared the funeral and put together a large wake in honor of his death. Wanting to save face, the wife tries everything she can to get her husband to just die already. I loved this charming little short that comments on just who is a wake and funeral for, the dead or the living?

“M.A.M.O.N” is a fun short that may be a bit politically outdated in the next month or two, but nevertheless manages to be witty and fast paced. It opens with a bunch of people falling from the sky and landing in the desert. Is it a plane crash? Nope, we are at the American border and it looks as if illegals are being catapulted over the wall. Then a giant Trump mech arrives and takes on the rowdy protesters. While the special effects are pretty seamless and imaginative, the commentary is a little too on the nose for my tastes. Still, I chuckled quite a few times at this over the top quickie.

“The Death, Dad, and Son” is a Claymation-esque fairy tale about how the grim reaper balances his day to day business of being there when a soul passes and taking care of a pre-teen son. When Death Jr. disappoints his father once again, he wanders into the city and attempts to do some good, but that only triggers a zombie apocalypse. Fans of WALLACE & GROMMIT who long for a grittier and more macabre take on stop-animation madness are in for a treat with this imaginative toon.

“Entity” is a 2001: A SPACE ODDYSSEY tribute. This one, about a cosmonaut whose ship explodes and casts her adrift into deep space with a limited air supply, has less of a story and is more as an artistic montage. There are some fabulous sights and sounds in this one and the ending is quite epic, but ultimately, this is another one where the narrative is flimsy, but that lack of depth is made up by how good it looks.

“Bloodbath” is a grim and twisted punchline style film with a semi-long lead in. There’s less of a story here and more of just a long build-up to a big reveal. I sort of got the joke a few minutes in, but it delivers in terms of grotesque horror, though I think a longer, more detailed story might have benefitted it. I don’t want to say much else because giving anything away spoils the end.

The final short is just that, more of a concept than a story with a beginning, middle, and end. “The Last Show” focuses on a group of kids going to a carnival and finding themselves in the crosshairs of a bunch of homicidal clowns. As the clowns wreak havoc upon the crowd, some of them toughen up and try to fight back. The ending is abrupt and anti-climactic, but I did like the way the short switched back and forth between live action to animation. It makes it much more of a visual treat.

ASYLUM: TWISTED HORROR & FANTASY TALES is a mixed bad of decent short films and quickies that I would categorize as more proof of concept pieces than actual narratives. The film flies by pretty quickly for a two hour anthology and features some electrifying visuals that occasionally work narratively too.

Click here for the trailer!!