Sundance Review! “S-VHS” Is An Uneven, Occasionally Thrilling Sequel To The Horror Anthology “V/H/S”

Oooookay. Now that I’ve read several reviews, I want to see this sequel just for the Indonesian segment (“Safe Haven”) that comes from the makers of The Raid: Redemption  (which I loved so much I could barely still during).  Add horror, gore, what one reviewer called “EC Comics – like” rand batshit-crazy in?  DEAL!   Take a wild guess as to which segment the “featured image” from this post is from.

I found V/H/S  to be uneven (and I totally agree with Drew Taylor about the misogynism; almost every male character was an asshole, and that the whole tone of certain segments dripped of hatred, which was one of my main complaints about the movie as a whole, especially that exceptionally sloppy wrap-around), but …when a piece worked… it fucking worked.

So far, from what I’ve read, everyone agrees that S-VHS is more intense, tighter, scarier, and gorier. That might not mean a bunch when the writer couldn’t stand the first one, but it’s still a recommendation to me!

Doodle Dandy

Sundance Review: ‘S-VHS‘ Is An Uneven, Occasionally Thrilling Sequel To The Horror Anthology

Last year, the indie horror anthology “V/H/S” was released and promised to be chock full of truly in-your-face terror – these were fearless directors, given complete creative freedom, and squeezed together under a tight, blood-soaked package. Of course, the promise of “V/H/S” and the actual movie itself were quite different, and while there were certainly some gems (including entries by Ti West and Joe Swanberg that blurred the line between mumblecore and horror even further), most of them were overlong and uninvolving and (worse yet) reinforced some of the worst traits in the horror genre, including an undercurrent of ugly misogyny that was knotted through almost every section.Well, the conceit seemed too irresistible to leave alone and this year we have “S-VHS” making its grand debut at the Sundance Film Festival

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Shorter Is Scarier: Why Horror Anthologies Need to Make a Comeback! By Ian Buckwalter of The Atlantic

What I should be doing is writing an article on the subject of horror anthology flicks myself. What I have  been doing is getting very little sleep, at odd hours,  causing me to do things like walk into a room, forget why, try to remember by going back in the original room, then ending up trying to take a nap. The other day I blanked on the correct title of An American Werewolf In London,  which I literally saw in the theater over ten times as a kid (thanks Mom) and probably 30 more times on VHS, then a dozen on DVD. I had the movie poster in my bedroom as a kid for, like, over a year. This leads me to believe I need to get some rest.

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Now… what was I saying?


There’s a very special place in my heart for horror anthology film;, so special that I am currently unable to articulate how and why when I’m this sleep-deprived, so I’ll rhapsodize about them when I can start a long sentence and then not have to stop at least once partway through because I lost my chain of thought.

While we don’t agree on everything (full-length horror needs to stick around), the writer is definitely onto something when it comes to why horror anthologies work so well.:


…short horror needs only a simple central idea, a few minutes of tension buildup, good scares to follow, and a clever resolution. Get in, get scary, and get out.

There you have it. Until my brain is firing on all cylinders, click on the big red link below to  read this great piece from The Atlantic Post by I

Shorter Is Scarier: Why Horror Anthologies Need to Make a Comeback – The Atlantic.


Mr. Buckwalter spends time focusing on the recent anthology films V/H/S  –it looks like we differed on which segments were best, but I’m not going to go into that when I haven’t even written a review yet*– and brings up the highly anticipated ABCs of Death.  You know, the one that Magnet Releasing keeps pushing back the fucking release date on when we’ve been waiting, along with quite a few others, since last July, goddamnit! I doubt the directors, especially the ones whose work is appearing in a film  for the first time, are feeling especially patient right now either. He just articulates so well why horror anthologies (that have at least two decent segments, though sometimes one segment that is exceptionally good can make up for the rest of the bad or mediocre ones). An uneven horror anthology film beats a shitty 90-minute horror feature any day of the week.

Ian Buckwalter is a freelance film writer based in Washington, D.C. He contributes regularly to NPR, Washingtonian, and DCist.


Do you like me?

Do you like me?


*though we paid $9.99 to watch it On Demand in August, I do want to rent it for the deleted scenes from “10/31/98” and behind the scenes featurettes on “Amateur Night”,  the ones I almost levitated watching, but… oh yeah. Sleep deprivation and ADD are a terrible combo when trying not to go off on tangents.


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Horror Boom Halloween Treat! Mountain Devil Prank Fails (Short Movie)

Hey! I highly recommend going into this one clean. Just give it a watch.  Relax, though! It’s just one of those funny prank fails, happens to be Halloween-related. Would you wear this lame costume to scare your friends? Watch the short (it’ll fly right by), THEN read my piece underneath (trust me).  Perfectly safe for you to shut off the lights and crank to volume up while you watch this viral video below! What could possibly go wrong?

Yeah, you could say that prank failed horribly! I love the idea that someone on You Tube might just think it’s a regular “fail” viral video and have no idea it’s made by a team of talented horror filmmakers. Surprise! Hopefully including the idiotic tweener trolls that now seem to make up half of You Tube’s viewers base, or the elitist hipsters who go out of their way to find something to insult in every video/trailer/clip, no matter how good it is. Actually, I kind of feel sorry for that last group, they’re missing out on some cool stuff.

I found this one while I was looking into the directors of the various segments of V/H/S.; I was most impressed by the first and last stories. The most memorable and fun ones, the ones that actually frightened and even disturbed me.  I was fairly sure of the direction “10/31/98” (the segment where three guys go to what they think  at first is a really inventive haunted house on Halloween) was taking, though that was due to the fact that one reviewer spoiled the hell out of it by not understanding the fucking difference between writing a plot set-up and a plot synopsis.

That’s on the reviewer, though, because knowing where the plot was going was not due to the writing and acting in the segment itself, which was outstanding. Even with the spoiler for everything but the last five minutes lurking in my brain, things got so freaky and wonderfully chaotic in that final segment that I was 100% in for the ride, and the dénouement was a brilliant and fun payoff. They definitely made the right call saving their segment for last, because it was a show-stopper. Both David Bruckner’s “Amateur Night” and especially “10/31/98”  brought something fresh and thrilling to the found-footage genre that’s been given a very bad name in the last ten years by dogshit movies like The Devil Inside, Apollo VII   (I don’t respect that crappy movie enough to research the correct Roman numerals in the title),  8213 Gacy House, and many, many WAY too many more.  You know, the all-too-familiar kind; the ones that don’t have an ending, and instead just …stop.

Yup, the short you just saw and the final segment of V/H/S are indeed both the work of Radio Silence, AKAthe team Chad, Matt & Rob.  Like “10/31/98”, the above video sure didn’t end the way I thought (I knew something scary was going to happen, but not ...that ). This “Mountain Devil” short is one of their highest-rated on You Tube, but you can bet your ass I’m going to start watching the rest and posting the best. Let’s hope their work appears in more movies soon and gets the wider audience it deserves!

Nope, I do NOT mind waiting for the fresh popcorn.

Red Band Trailer of the Day- V/H/S (2012)


I’d been previously informed that V/H/S was a found-footage torture porn film, at which point I mentally scratched it off my ‘must-see’ list. Then I found out that I’d been misinformed. Still, I was getting lazy about posting this, until I saw Wednesday’s “Attack of The Show” (we’ve been watching the show this week for the first time to see guest host Marc Maron) wherein one of the two grating, shrieky-voiced, bony chicks who pretend to be edgy pop-culture geeks* and appear to have been born in 1999 (the blonde one) proudly presented the “first look” at the V/H/S trailer.

I’ve been getting burned out on found footage movies. However, an anthology format of five, helmed by five different directors,  plus what I’ve heard is a pretty decent framing story from a sixth director?  You’re on!

So that gave me the kick in the butt to quit being lazy and post the first red band trailer for the found-footage anthology film V/H/S. I discovered it yesterday but was a little unsettled by this new version. Some new imagery was enough to make me decide that maybe it might be a good idea to go ahead and wait until it was light out to delve into it more…

Honestly, I’ve been getting burned out –just a little, but still–on found footage movies. However, an anthology format of five of them, helmed by five different directors (several whose work I’ve enjoyed, decent odds) plus what I’ve heard is a pretty decent framing story from a sixth director?  You’re on!  Suddenly, I can’t wait till it’s released this fall. Here’s the summary, directly from the official V/H/S website:

When a group of petty criminals is hired by a mysterious party to retrieve a rare piece of found footage from a rundown house in the middle of nowhere, they soon realize that the job isn’t going to be as easy as they thought. In the living room, a lifeless body holds court before a hub of old television sets, surrounded by stacks upon stacks of VHS tapes. As they search for the right one, they are treated to a seemingly endless number of horrifying videos, each stranger than the last.

Bringing together some of the top filmmakers in the game today, this wickedly conceived horror anthology sends the viewer through a gauntlet of suspense, terror, shock, and downright brutality—instantly distinguishing itself from a sea of lackluster found-footage horror flicks. The diverse and deviously creative minds behind V/H/S shatter any preconceived notions about the genre, making it feel inventive and captivating once again.

OK,  V/H/S,  sold!


If you’re out there reading reviews, beware The Hollywood Reporter review from Sundance, as the reviewer blurts out nearly the entire content of the first two stories, including jump scares and twists. Not so much as a retroactive spoilers warning!

*Yeah, I have PMS. So what? When I have a headache and am not feeling too glamorous, I have less patience than usual with seeing two motor-mouthed valley-girl sounding model-hostesses apparently trying to out-shriek (and out-cute) each other. They’re good at reading teleprompters energetically, and good at… uh…  drawing a blank here! The highlight so far for me was when Robert Kirkman finally told the brunette (politely) to stop interrupting him.  Ahhh,  that was as refreshing as a cold drink on a hot summer day; I seriously felt like someone had been blowing a kazoo in my ear for 45 minutes.