I’m a big fan of the concept where studios or a collective of directors take various short films from indie directors and create anthology horror films in the vein of “Tales from the Darkside” or “V/H/S/.” The idea is a great one and opens up a broader audience, and allows them some great exposure. “A Night of Horror: Nightmare Radio,” is one of the many that’s come along, mixing seven stellar horror shorts told by a lone radio DJ in the middle of the night.
Alone in his studio/home, DJ Rod Wilson (James Wright) broadcasts Nightmare Radio into the dark of the night, telling creepy stories, discussing the supernatural, and chatting live with callers, some of whom are skeptical about the connection of his tales to reality. DJ Rod has seven tales, all of which he unfolds for his listening audience, all the while he begins to notice that something just isn’t right in his home. While there’s always bound to be a clunker here and there, there isn’t a particularly bad short in the bunch.
There’s just the one or two flat horror tales that thankfully don’t hinder the overall experience. My favorites include the absolutely horrifying Post Mortem Mary, a period-set piece in the late 1800’s about a mother and daughter whom photograph the recently deceased so that those grieving have something to remember them by. When the mother has to console the parents of a recently deceased girl, it’s left to her young daughter to complete the task. The problem though is that the photography subject is having a problem staying still for the photograph. It’s a tense, chilling and spooky tale about our fear of death, and it reminded me of the equally excellent “The Autopsy of Jane Doe.”
The second tale The Disappearance of Willie Bingham is a dark tale worth of “Tales from the Crypt” about a convict who, rather than face death row, agrees to an experimental punishment. This involves him systematically having pieces of his entire body chopped off. As he loses limbs he starts begging for death, but the iron clad contract prevents him from such mercy. It’s a bizarre, and demented short that will actually make you sympathize with the slimy Willie. The Smiling Man I reviewed years ago and is still a creepy short, as it follows a young girl who wakes in the middle the night to find a trail of balloons leading down to a maniacal mime who will do anything to garner her friendship.
It’s spooky, well made, and packs a horrific punch. Vicius is the finale with a focus on the concept of grief as a woman is haunted by her friends’ death and soon enough the mysterious monster that contributed to her horrific death. It’s an intense, richly created short and offers a creepy final scene. The story frame directed by Luciano and Nicolás Onetti makes up in mood and sincere tension what it lacks in originality. You can see where it’s headed, but the execution is good thanks to the direction and Wright’s performance that it’s forgivable. As someone with a love for the horror anthology, “Nightmare Radio” definitely fills the appetite.
On DVD and Digital VOD September 1st from Uncork’d Entertainment.