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TALES FROM THE OTHER SIDE (2022)
Directed by Pablo Macho Maysonet IV (“Scary Mary”), Jamaal Burden (“Petrified Boy”, “Krampus Vs. Elf”), Scotty Baker (“Flicker”), Jacob Cooney (“Crystal Ball”), Lucas Heyne (“Either/Or”), Kern Saxton (“Either/Or”), Frank Merle (“Blood Red”).
Written by Pablo Macho Maysonet IV (“Scary Mary”), Jamaal Burden (“Petrified Boy”, “Krampus Vs. Elf”), Gordon Bressack (“Flicker”, “Either/Or”, “Blood Red”), James Cullen Bressack (“Flicker”, “Crystal Ball”), Zack Ward (“Flicker”, “Crystal Ball”).
Starring Roslyn Gentle, Anna Harr, Tristan Lee Griffin, Leticia LaBelle, Caitlyn Fletcher, Brooklyn Anne Miller (“Scary Mary”), Rafael Delgado, Donna Morrell Gafford, Maria Imelda Perez, Cynthia Ramirez, Julian Ramirez, Natalie Wise, Monica E. Zendejas (“Petrified Boy”), Vernon Wells, Brandon Thane Wilson, Mike Silva, Kyle Grescovich, Larry Longstreth Iii, Lila Mensing, Roses Prichard, Jovon Times, Matthew Turull (“Flicker”), Chelsea Vale, Nicky Nightmare, Paul Clough, David Gere (“Crystal Ball”), James Duval, Blayke Rose, Nick Principe, Trae Ireland, John Haegele, Tonya Cornelisse, Garrett Lloyd (“Either/Or”), Michael Broderick, Cat LaCohie, Hunter Johnson (“Blood Red”), Andreas Rodriguez, Torres Gramoff, Rafael Delgado Jr. (“Krampus Vs. Elf”)
I’ve always been a fan of anthologies and TALES FROM THE OTHER SIDE is a low budget anthology worth seeking out simply because of the talent behind it. James Cullen Bressack is the madman behind the#JENNIFER films along with his father Gordon Bressack, he’s produced some very cool low budget features. The Bressack’s have teamed with Zack Ward, best known as Scut Farkas from A CHRISTMAS STORY, but has made a new career producing and starring in some impressive horror films of late like FREDDY VS JASON, DON’T BLINK, and the Z NATION series. While low budget, there are some very fun ideas in this collection of seven short stories.
One thing I noticed about the film is that I feel it might have wanted to start out to be a kid friendly horror film as the wraparound “Scary Mary” is very GOOSEBUMPS-esque. A group of kids decide to knock on the door of the creepy house in their town that is supposed to be occupied by a witch. Turns out it’s just an old lady who likes to tell scary stories to kids. But while she fattens them up with treats, she tells the rest of the short tales that make up the anthology. While this is a perfectly workable way to frame an anthology, it did feel a bit too Saturday Morning Cartoonish, even though a few curse words are tossed out. The problem is that while some of the horrors to come are kid-friendly, others really aren’t so don’t be deceived that this might be appropriate for the younger folk.
“Petrified Boy” is a fun little tale about a carnival that owns what they say is the cursed body of a petrified child in its exhibit. And woe to the person who allows sunlight to fall upon this desiccated corpse. While the subject matter is quite morbid, I found this one to be charming and possessing a devious edge to it. It is perplexing that the film turns out to be a story within a story as it takes place at a garage sale containing all kinds of weird stuff, which would have been an interesting way to introduce stories in an anthology.
This is the same case with “Flicker,” the second segment where an editor with Hollywood dreams gets a job making memorial videos at a cemetery. Again, the setting would make for a good wraparound segment with each of the videos he is editing telling a devious story. Again, a missed opportunity occurs and the would-be filmmaker runs afoul of the ghosts that occupy the old photos he is splicing together. I found this one to be kind of predictable, but it has a fun appearance by ROAD WARRIOR’s Vernon Wells.
“Crystal Ball” is definitely not for the kiddies as it features a young couple looking for thrills who steal a crystal ball from a carnival psychic. Of course, nothing good comes from that. I liked this one because it shuffled around who is the aggressor and who is the victim in the relationship. Plus, the acting is pretty solid here, making it one of the more emotionally resonant of the bunch.
“Either/Or” is my favorite of the bunch because it is full of twists and turns. Not only is the script unpredictable, but it really delves pretty deeply into god complexes, delusions, and how religious miracles might be perceived if they were to happen today. THE DOOM GENERATION and DONNIE DARKO star James Duval plays a patient in a mental ward who believes he is being spoken to by god. I liked the simple visuals as well as the well written script of this one.
“Blood Red” feels like a truncated thriller that one might have seen on Skinemax in the nineties most likely starring Billy Zane or Wings Hauser. It’s about a sultry seductress who charms an up-and-coming painter to murder her famous artist husband. Back and front stabbing happen at a break neck pace. Not my favorite, but a fun one, nevertheless.
Finally, there’s the stop motion madness of “Krampus Vs. Elf.” This is the type of short one might see at SPIKE AND MIKE’S SICK AND TWISTED FESTIVAL back in the day. While the animation is rudimentary, as a happy elf has a gory showdown with a Krampus that comes to ruin Christmas, it is definitely effectively creepy and all sorts of wrong.
So TALES FROM THE OTHER SIDE isn’t the best, but it is far from the worst anthology I’ve gandered at. It’s got a couple of high points and a couple of ideas that might have needed a little more time in the cooker. But isn’t that the case with most anthologies? It has a few worth watching, even though the tone seems to be all over the place. Mild recommendation for this one.