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Scary Tales - Scary Tales(Blu Ray) [101 Films - 2022]

Scary Tales is one of the top-tier examples of the SOV horror form- as it features some neat & creative effects/kills, it’s full of quirky lo-fi charm, and the acting is largely fairly good for the genre. The early 90’s film is a three-story anthology, and each story has its own memorable moments/ characters. Here as part of 101 Films UK's reissue of the AGFA cult film library, here’s a region B blu ray release of the film- with the disc taking in a commentary track, a bonus film 1994 Darkest Soul, and a selection of early horror shorts from the director.

Scary Tales was made in the year 1994- it was co-directed/ co-written by Doug Ulrich (Snuff Kill ,7 Sins Of The Vampire, Darkest Soul) and Al Darago(Snuff Kill). I was already aware of and enjoyed the pair's 1997 sleaze ‘n’ gore fest Snuff Kill aka Screen Kill (this got a release on SRS last year, and is well worth a look!).  Scary Tales certainly has more humour and cheesiness in its make-up than Snuff Kill, and it stands as a classic of 90’s SOV horror form.

The film runs just over the seventy minutes mark- which may not sound long enough to tell three tales, but each is given enough time to tell its story and make its impact. The stories are each introduced by an in-the-fog and darkness-gowned glowing green-eyed figure- and I guess you say it has a low-grade sort of crypt keeper vibe…though we never get to clearly see it. The first story is Satan's Necklace- this opens in a bar, and a slightly tubby twenty-something guy starts up a conversation with a middle-aged/ moustached cop who has just clocked off. The pair get on so well, that next time we see them they are out in the daytime metal detecting. They detect something, hurriedly digging into the ground- and it’s just a bottle top, but there still seems something in the ground- and out comes the brass and red gem necklace.  The twenty-something guy heads home to his girlfriend and starts wearing the necklace- which slowly but surely seems to be altering his mood, and in time he starts seeing a fire-breather figure, his face seems to start shifting, and towards the end of the story, he sprouts horns & goes all demonic with some neat effects.

Next, we have Sliced in Cold Blood- and this is a simpler, but still effective slasher-focused tale. A guy finds out his girlfriend is cheating on him, so kills him (with a crossbow), and her (with a machete) before going on a spree- which features heads getting hacked in half, eyeballs squeezed out of heads, decapitations, and more impressive looking kills. The whole spree is scored by sustained synth cord and lower body stalking shots- sure there is not any real stalking tension here, but the haphazard brooding tone and great kills more than make-up for this.

Lastly, we have Level 21- here we find an office worker & father who gets obsessed with a PC-based fantasy game, to the detriment of his family/ work. He can’t seem to get passed level twenty, then one night while gaming in the basement- he drops into the game, wearing a ropy looking roman soldier- he encounters an evil dwarf, jumping ninjas, growling bald skull-capped monster man, and a tied-up maiden. We get some bloody head pummelling, brutal spear jabbing, and more.

Each story features the same selection of actors/ buddies- with Al Darago playing the role of the ghoulish storyteller. All of the acting is rather good, and at times rather intentionally amusing- with a great line of cheesy fun running through the whole thing. All in all, Scary Tales is a great ride of an SOV film.

 

Moving onto this Blu-Ray disc, and we get a few neat extras. First off, we get a director's commentary from Doug Ulrich- which is most interesting. He begins by explaining in what order the segments were filmed- with slasher Sliced in Cold Blood being the first. He talks about how he and his fellow director Al Darago first met in 1987 but didn't start making films/ collaborating until some years later. We get a rundown of the first segment's locations, and the different members of the cast, who were friends, family, or work colleagues. He discusses the original version of Scary Tales (which is featured here), talking about it varies from the 1993 version. We find out the influences on each of the stories. He talks about effects set-up/ plus those that went wrong- so on the former we find how they made squibs out of condoms, and on the latter plaster gets stuck in one of the actor's ears. And much more- an informative/ entertaining track.

Otherwise, we get Scary Tales 1987(22.03)- and this is interesting to see how things developed/ changed. There’s just under a minute of outtakes, we get an eight-minute interview with the two directors on a local TV show, and forty-four minutes worth of horror shorts. Finally, we get Darkest Soul (1994) which is just over an hour-long film from Doug Ulrich. And what we have here is more of a drama- following two buddies Tommy (Al Darago) who is always looking-for-trouble bearded, leather jacket, and ear-wring-wearing. And Mark (Jeff White) his tubby more mellow, if gullible friend. We follow the two getting hired and fired from one job after another, hanging out playing pool and drinking. Around the middle of the film, they get a job as grave diggers, and Tommy starts stealing from & messing with the corpses. Towards the end, we do get light horror elements/ tropes- but it’s mostly a drama, and sadly it’s rather unevenly paced feeling longer than it’s just over hour runtime.

 

So, if you’re a fan of SOV horror, or fancy checking out the genre for the first time I’d say Scary Tales is a must! It is wonderful how many SOV horror films we’ve been getting reissued in recent years, and long may this last- because at its best it can be one of the most rewarding and creative of horror subgenres. 

Rating: 4 out of 5Rating: 4 out of 5Rating: 4 out of 5Rating: 4 out of 5Rating: 4 out of 5

Roger Batty
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