WRITER: David Steensland
DIRECTOR: David Steensland
STARRING: Vincent Price as The Mailman/The Host/Himself
Todd Fulton as Matt Wilson
QUICK CUT: A very random collection of random stories.
TRISK ANALYSIS: Welcome back, Triskelions! The end of summer is upon us, school is starting back up, so once again it is time for our annual look at an anthology movie, because I have decided I like making more work for myself, or something??
This year, I got my hands on an obscure made for tv little anthology called Escapes, featuring Vincent Price himself. And I say featuring because he in no way stars in this. Still, this is an interesting little collection of stories, so let's just dive right into it.
We open up on a mailman, played by Vincent, as he delivers a package to Matt who soon comes home and discovers he has been sent a videotape of Escapes he has no recollection of buying. He plops down, pops it in, and whoaa trippy.
I kinda relate to this guy, since I too receive random bad movies in the mail, and watch them, to my own horror. But anyways, on the tape is Escapes, hosted by Vincent Price as himself, introducing an anthology movie, and augh my heard hurts.
Let me say this, the movie gives a good atmosphere to the intro wraparound, as the movie slowly moves through a hall of mannequins and figures stuck in the walls. There's some creepy production values at work, and what more do I need to say about Price? It's little more than a Doctor Who corridor set, but they somehow sell it.
Vincent tees things up, (and calls the anthology Escape but oh well) and we kick off our first story; HOBGOBLIN BRIDGE.
We meet a little kid whom his brother likes to ignore, and their mom, as she's about to run some errands. She leaves Matt in the care of his brother, and makes them play together.
So Trevor and friends go off riding on their bikes, taking Matt with them very reluctantly. They race through the town, having fun like only kids who existed before the internet possibly could. They take Matt through the cemetery, the desert, and further and further from home, until they come to...Hobgoblin Bridge.
Hobgoblin Bridge is an old, run down, covered bridge, and they give him a spooooky story of local folklore, about the hobgoblin that lives there, as well as teasing him about not knowing what Hobgoblins even are. And look, I've seen THAT movie, and he is better off not knowing.
Trevor and friends tell him all about how the rhythm is gonna getcha if you don't go across the bridge in the exact right way. It's more like the older boys are just trying to scare Matt just for fun and because they don't want to drag him around, but oh my friends...
Matt puts on a brave face, but once he's all alone, staring down the dark bridge, the terror feels all too real. Still, his other option is to go back the way they came, in the dark, and his house is almost just on the other side of the bridge.
There's also a pretty neat shot where he calls out angrily to Trevor, and the movie pulls back and back and back from the bridge until it's almost a speck, and it really helps to make Matt feel small.
With little other choice, Matt arms himself with a plank, and creeps his way across the bridge until he sees a small red figure peek out. Is it real? His overactive imagination?? Either way, he runs back and tries to gather his courage for another attempt.
Matt races across the bridge, and it is REALLY well shot. They do an excellent job of making the bridge seem like an endless tunnel, like running towards a door in a dream, and the door just gets further and further away. It's intercut with the hobgoblin racing alongside the top of the bridge, until it jumps down next to the kid. With some great tense music, it's a pretty harrowing scene...
Until Matt bursts out of the far end of the bridge, his pants-leg ripped as the hobgoblin almost grabbed him. The pay off is a bit anticlimactic, because I'm a bit evil, especially for the long build up, but it's a well made little short, with some nice moments to it, in need of just a little tightening up.
That wraps up, and we kick off the next short, A LITTLE FISHY.
We watch as a fisherman heads down to the lake, and does his thing. However, his lunch is ruined, so after catching a fish, when he spies a perfect apple sitting not far from him, he just can't resist. But as he takes a bite, he starts to choke, and a fishing line has become embedded in his cheek.
He gets yanked into the water, and ends up drowning pretty quick.
This a short, simple little story, played almost silently, and I just LOVE it. It's the right way to make horror work in a few minutes, and the irony is a lot of fun. It's maybe a bit on the nose, but it works, and gets in and out quickly.
Next up is COFFEE BREAK, which starts off with a couple finding a friendly older farmer in the middle of nowhere, searching for Highway 49.
The farmer rambles on and urges them to enjoy the peace and quiet and serenity of nature, and let me tell ya, folks. As someone who lives in the country, the whole 'take your time enjoy the scenery' laid back nature is so spot on, even without the horror trappings.
Following that setup with the nice, polite, quiet couple, we get the polar opposite of a delivery man barreling down the back roads, rock music blaring, and being incredibly rude and angry when he finds the farmer to try and find the highway and get back on track.
He asks for directions, and the farmer says he needs to slow down, chill out, just go down the road a bit, and when you get to the cafe, sit down and have some coffee, and you'll find your way out.
The delivery boy promises *wiiinK!* that he'll stop for coffee, and heads off, continuing his ways and even laughing at the silly farmer. But as he tries to leave, he keeps going around in circles and getting nowhere.
He finally notices he keeps going by the cafe, and decides to stop and get real directions. At least he says please! But when the farmer comes out to offer him some coffee, the kid gets angrier and angrier, yelling about his job, but things take a sinister turn as no one has an answer for him and they just laugh.
The guy storms off, gets in his van, and drives aimlessly some more, hoping to find something he missed, until he runs out of gas. Right in front of the diner.
It's a solid little morality play, and yes as I said, people out here are just Like That. It gets a little campy and silly at times, and maybe goes on with too much driving, but again the story mostly works. The longer story is refreshing after the really short fish story, and it makes decent use of its time.
Next up is WHO'S THERE? and this is another long one. It at least starts off with a good creepy vibe of someone or some thing watching kids playing tag, from the safety of the woods.
But we are soon told that OH NO something has escaped from a nearby lab! I'm sure everyone in the area is in grave danger, because nice things don't tend to escape from labs!
We then watch a VERY LONG scene of a jogger doing his thing, until the creatures start coming after him, chasing him through the forest trails. It's not bad, it's pretty tense, but really goes on for a little too long. We get the idea.
It does at least have some nice creepy vibes though, as the jogger as chased, even if it does go on for a long time. But hey, a chase is always good. RUN RABBIT! RUUUUN!
But then the creatures catch up with him, as they were inevitably due to do, and...BOO. BOOOO! I am throwing things and flipping tables. Because after ALL THAT BUILD UP, the creatures, with some decent makeup! pop up and just say HA HA! Tag! You're it, you're it! and scamper off.
That...is one hell of an anticlimax, way too cutesy, and more suitable for some other show. Am I a bad person for wishing it was more conventional, because I *do* respect mixing up the tropes at least. Also, it is a LOT of makeup effects for such a dopey gag.
Sigh. Maybe JONAH'S DREAM will fare better?
This is a genuinely sweet little story, about a kindly old lady, working the claim of her husband Jonah, who passed away some time ago. Her husband had a dream that there was gold in them thar hills, and she finds just enough to keep going, and give some treats to the local children.
Everyone loves her, and urges her to sell the land, because it IS valuable in other ways, like logging, but she is honouring her husband's memory, and continues to search for gold.
It is a VERY long setup though, as she pans for gold, pays a visit to town, entertains the kids in town, and then pans for more gold.
She heads back up the mountain, mills about for awhile, has a dream, and then while making some tea, hears a whoosh, and a crash. She heads out to the barn to see what it is and finds a crashed vessel of some kind.
I guess she shall adopt this strange visitor from another planet, and raise him as her own son, who will then confront a vigilante and stop him from killing her son by using her name...
No wait, that's someone else. Ahem.
She spends a lot of time digging the craft out of the wrecked barn, and what is the point of all this? We veered wildly through "there is gold in them thar hills" to "alien ship destroyed my barn". A ship that then proceeds to explode or disintegrate to remove all traces of itself. SO WHAT WAS THE POINT.
Once the smoke clears and the sun rises, the woman investigates the wreckage, and finds chunks of rock with gold running through them.
So, what am I supposed to make of this? It's a long slow story, sweet and touching and well acted as it is, that then throws in AN ALIEN SPACESHIP to show that hey, there IS gold, but it's in the ROCKS!! Thanks, Superman??
Which at least brings us to the final story before the wraparound returns, THINK TWICE. Okay you've got one more chance to wow me.
It gets things going with a mugger doing some mugging, who takes some interest in a homeless man, who pulls out a crystal that starts glowing red, and creates some bread he gives to his friends. He must've gotten that from Jonah's spaceship...
The mugger grabs the guy, and steals his stone, with the guy shouting how it's 'not for you!' as he runs away.
His victory is short lived though, as he races into the streets and gets hit by a drunk driver. However, when he looks for the mugger, his body has disappeared, leaving only the crystal, and a smear of blood on his bumper, behind.
The crystal glows red, the drunk rushes off utterly confused, leaving it behind. The original owner comes along, picks it up, whispers a bit, and the mugger poofs back into existence. All I can say is ????
But also, the police arrive, and the mugger is holding a stolen purse all of a sudden. So what goes around comes around, I guess??
So that's over with, and at least it was short. And from there, we are back to Matt watching the same movies we just slogged through.
Vincent is introducing the sixth and final story starring...MATT HIMSELF. Matt is surprised, and the tv addresses him directly. Although it can do that, but doesn't know if he prefers Matt or Matthew? Pretty lame magical omniscience, Mister Price.
Matt tries to turn off the tv, and Vincent turns it back on, being VERY annoyed at how rude Matt is being. But Matt just goes ahead and removes the tape. Suck on that!
Whew, well that's over w...NO WAIT it's not. As everyone from the earlier segments burst into his home. Well, enough of them at least, and Vincent cackles on the tv.
Matt suddenly wakes up, so IT WAS ALL A DREAM! until he sees his name on the VHS box, and Mailman Vincent cackling in his living room chair. The viewer fades away and becomes another sculpture in the night gallery...er wait no, different show.
I guess the overall lesson here is, don't be a dick, or bad stuff will happen. That seems to be a running theme throughout the stories.
Also, while this has the feeling of being slapped together from a bunch of available short films that had been floating around, and there is genuinely some of that which happened here, bringing back everyone to go after Matt at the end really works, and helps bring it together a bit more.
Video: It's pretty bad, but not terrible. About what I would expect for something made for tv in the 80s.
Audio: An adequate mix.
Sound Bite: "Everyone should have time, for a good cup of coffee" is my new favourite horror moral
Body Count: Yeesh. So so few.
1 - About 25 minutes in when the fisherman gets it.
2 - Matt gets turned into a statue at the end
Best Corpse: My self respect
Blood Type - D+: And those few points are ENTIRELY for the statue gallery and the tag monsters.
Sex Appeal: Is...is there even a woman in this?? OH right, Matt's mom.
Drink Up! every time you feel let down by a story.
Video Nasties: Have a truncated version of the game of tag.
Movie Review: So, as always with anthologies, this is a mixed bag. But I can see some genuine film making technique lurking here, and the stories are well written, for what there is. For me, the best story is the fisherman, and Think Twice, although even that last one is lacking. Hobgoblin Bridge is also a lot of fun, and probably the best made. It's a bit overall meh, with some interesting ideas. If this had become a series, I'd watch more. Two out of five hobgoblins.
Entertainment Value: The biggest issue with this movie is the utter lack of dialogue throughout the thing. They want to rely on the acting, not the writing, which is actually fine, but the lack of words makes for a dull viewing. Vincent Price is a treat, for as briefly as he's here, and sadly the lack of dialogue makes it hard to make fun of or enjoy the campy hammy acting that it could have. Two out of five red crystals.