It’s been a while since I’ve delivered the Shorts Round Up of the Week as I was previously incapacitated with the flu for most of December. Now that we’re on a new year and a new chapter for the site, I thought it only fitting to unveil the first “Shorts Round Up of the Week” for 2021.
Chris De Pretis’ indie horror scifi film has its heart in the right place, but at the end of the day, I can’t say he re-invents the wheel here. I was never quite sure if “Death Blood 4” was intended as a meta-horror movie or not, as it puts up this gimmick of it being a sequel to three movies that never quite existed. It goes about this “Grindhouse” novelty until the introduction of the actual narrative where it’s played fairly straight faced and with a stern tone bereft of any notable satirical content.
With many calling the death of physical media and some studios switching over to streaming for some of their titles, the market for collectors is as interesting as ever. What with the theaters closing, studios are rushing to release a lot of their films on new formats or present them in a new way for movie fans. Sadly there haven’t been a lot of really big unveilings in terms of titles unleashed. Save for a few surprises here and there (“Rad,” “The Gate II,” “36.15 Code Père Noël”), it’s all more of the same ad nauseum (Do we really need yet another edition of “E.T.” or “Back to the Future”?) there are still so many movies out there that have yet to see a release on Blu-Ray, 4K UHD, and yes, even Standard DVD.
That said, these are five very good movies that deserve a home media release.
Creator Julian Carlile’s “The Meeting Chronicles” is certainly one of the most bizarre and fascinating comedy movies I’ve seen all year. That’s by no means an insult as “The Meeting Chronicles” concocts an unusual tale of people trying to find their goal in the writing field and end up just falling in to an endless stream of nonsense including confrontations with homeless speakers, and overly enthusiastic porn stars. I can’t say I loved “The Meeting Chronicles” but I enjoyed its charming, minimalist aesthetic.
I guess you could classify “Scare Package” as a horror movie, and yes even a horror comedy. But if my arm were twisted I’d be more comfortable just classifying it as a comedy. “Scare Package” is that movie that has a great time breaking down horror tropes and satirizing the clichés we’ve seen in various horror movies, but never actually includes any kind of scary content. Every single segment in this anthology is played with a tongue in cheek, and it’s a shame since a movie with this concept has a chance to re-imagine horror tropes.
Peter Hyams’ horror comedy was way ahead of its time in 1992, and it’s a film that warrants so much more examination, mainly because of its prophetic view of television. Back in 1992 television was humongous and low income houses were finally getting access to cable television, so naturally there was a lot of ballyhoo about its addictive nature. Speaking as a television junky, “Stay Tuned” was a great bit of satire that also dabbled in to the arena of “So Bad it’s Good.” It’s not laugh out loud funny, but it’s often very clever, and never misses a chance to deliver some kind of word horror oriented pun.
Scott Douglas Brown’s “Stadium Anthems” is a movie that is just fine when all is said and done. The direction and production values are very good, and most of the cast keeps the film afloat with their charisma. It’s an okay movie that ultimately feels like with a bit of alterations it could have been great. I am always a fan of mock documentaries about rock bands, and varying shades of egos, et al. It’s just that “Stadium Anthems” suffers from feeling like there are just too many ideas struggling to rise to the surface, and it drags it down big time.
If you haven’t checked out Shinichirou Ueda’s indie horror comedy hit “One Cut of the Dead” by now then you’ve truly missed out on a prime piece of filmmaking. The film has been a festival darling, has become a hit on streaming and is being given excellent treatment for physical media collectors in a deluxe Steelbook. “One Cut of the Dead” is a genuine horror comedy gem that is best appreciated going in with as little information about it as possible. Although most reviews have given this advice of avoiding any and all spoilers, it’s sage wisdom that will only help improve an already excellent film.