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directed by Richard Stanley, Buddy Giovinazzo, Tom Savini, Douglas Buck, Karim Hussain, and David Gregory
USA/France/Canada 2011

 

Penny (Virginia Newcomb, MACHETE JOE) stumbles upon a derelict theatre where a marionette-like host (Udo Keir, BLOOD FOR DRACULA) presents six stories by popular horror directors. In "Mother of Toads" anthropologist Martin (Shane Woodward) and his girlfriend Karina (Victoria Maurette, LEFT FOR DEAD) are vacationing in the French Pyrenees where they meet witch Mere Antoinette (Catriona MacColl, CITY OF THE LIVING DEAD) who tempts Martin by professing ownership of a genuine copy of the Necronomicon. Director Ricard Stanley's return to horror has some interesting images and concepts, but is not as impressive as his past efforts HARDWARE and DUST DEVIL. Expanding - but not really adding much to - the short story by Clark Ashton Smith (despite the differences in the characters, it's actually very faithful to the very short piece), it plays as if it were a MASTERS OF HORROR episode directed by Stanley. At best, it shows that Stanley can adapt to contemporary horror aesthetics and sensibilities. Buddy Giovinazzo (COMBAT SHOCK) directs "I Love You" in which unfaithful Mo (Suzan Anbeh, FRENCH KISS) proves more than up to the challenge when her husband Axel (André Hennicke, A DANGEROUS METHOD) asks "How can you hurt me any more than you already have?" Giovinazzo's episode plays like a compressed version of Polanski's BITTER MOON with a gory payoff; but it's twists of perception are groan-inducing. In "Wet Dreams" director Tom Savini (the 1990 remake of NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD) doubles as a psychiatrist treating philandering Donnie (James Gill), who suffers from gory castration-anxiety nightmares involving his long-suffering wife (Debbie Rochon, TROMEO AND JULIET). There's actually no much to the story beyond what psychological resonance Savini is hoping to eek from graphic images of genital mutilation.

In "The Accident", a little girl (Mélodie Simard) witnesses a gory road accident and looks to her mother (Lena Kleine, TERRITORIES) to explain why people die. Director Douglas Buck (the remake of Brian De Palma's
SISTERS) goes for poignancy and achieves it; although, the episode is the most ill-suited to Guignol concept of the film. In "Vision Stains" a writer (Kaniehtiio Horn, THE WILD HUNT) experiences the lives of others by murdering them and stealing fluid from their eyes as their life flashes before them. SUBCONSCIOUS CRUELTY director Karim Hussain's short is a misfire with overbearing and redundant narration (and an even more needless voice-over from an interior voice during the climax that spells out what is already extremely obvious). It might have been better as a longer short without the voice-overs.
Finally, in "Sweets" the "joy of mastication" shared by cold Estelle (Lindsay Goranson, THE POPCORN MAN) and lovelorn food junkie Greg (Guilford Adams, EQUINOX KNOCKS) leads to a gorily-predictable twist ending. Lynn Lowry (I DRINK YOUR BLOOD) co-stars. "Sweets" is rather predictable, but it is also the only one that actually seems thoroughly suited for a film called THEATRE BIZARRE (although this film could also form part of a "relationship hell" anthology with the Giovinazzo and Savini episodes along with a couple others to bring it up to feature length). In fact, my main complaint about THE THEATRE BIZARRE is how ill-matched the six stories are in theme and tone.Jeremy Kasten (
THE WIZARD OF GORE remake) directs the wrap-around segments titled "Theatre Guignol", in which Keir makes only the vaguest comments to set up each episode (testifying to the incongruity of the components crammed together to create this film). I was also really hoping for more with Richard Stanley's return to the genre.

Eric Cotenas

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Theatrical Release: 9 May 2012 (France)

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DVD Review: Image Entertainment - Region 1 - NTSC

Big thanks to Eric Cotenas for the Review!

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Distribution

Image Entertainment

Region 1 - NTSC

Runtime 1:53:32
Video

2.35:1 Original Aspect Ratio

16X9 enhanced
Average Bitrate: 6.93 mb/s
NTSC 720x480 29.97 f/s

NOTE: The Vertical axis represents the bits transferred per second. The Horizontal is the time in minutes.

Bitrate

Audio English Dolby Digital 5.1
Subtitles none
Features Release Information:
Studio: Image Entertainment

Aspect Ratio:
Widescreen anamorphic - 2.35:1

Edition Details:
• Audio Commentaries on all episodes except THE ACCIDENT
• Behind the Scenes Featurettes for:
• - THE ACCIDENT (4:3; 1:27)
• - MOTHER OF TOADS (4:3; 1:16)
• - THEATRE GUIGNOL (4:3; 2:08)
• - SWEETS (4:3; 1:30)
• - VISION STAINS (4:3; 1:21)
• SHOCK 'TIL YOU DROP Interviews for:
• - David Gregory (16:9; 15:03)
• - Buddy Giovinazzo (16:9; 10:25)
• - Jeremy Kasten (16:9; 12:51)
• Theatrical Trailer (16:9; 1:35)

DVD Release Date: April 24th, 2012
Amaray

Chapters 16

 

Comments

The encoding of Image's dual-layer, progressive, anamorphic transfer seems less likely at fault for the occasional blown-out highlights than the uneven cinematography of individual episodes. The disc probably represents the HD-lensed production as faithfully as standard-def can. The Dolby Digital 5.1 track is an overall more consistent experience (although the sound design of some episodes is busier than others).

Directors' commentary accompanies all episodes except for THE ACCIDENT. Wrap-around segment director Jeremy Kasten and actor Udo Keir also do wrap-around commentary (they sound like they are recorded over the phone, with a lot of digital noise reduction artifacts that make their part of the commentary near-un-listenable). Richard Stanley is accompanied by actress Victoria Maurette, producer Fabrice Lambot, and cinematographer Karim Hussain (who also shot "The Accident" and his own "Vision Stains") on "Mother of Toads" while Buddy Giovinazzo goes it alone on "I Love You". Tom Savini is joined by producers Michael Ruggiero and Robert Lucas on "Wet Dreams". Hussain is joined by actress Kaniehtiio Horn and editor Douglas Buck (who does not supply commentary for his own episode) on "Vision Stains" and David Gregory goes solo for "Sweets". Very brief behind-the-scenes segments are also supplied for some of the episodes, but they're pretty disposable. Kasten, Gregory, and Giovinazzo also provide longer interview segments. The film's trailer rounds out the extras.

  - Eric Cotenas

 


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DVD Box Cover

CLICK to order from:

 

Distribution

Image Entertainment

Region 1 - NTSC

 




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