Visual White Noise Theater: Want to watch some “Strange Tales” (1986)

Most horror anthologies have this problem, either most of them suck with a couple of good ones, or if your lucky they’ll be mostly good ones with a smattering of bad ones, “Strange Tales” has total of six and out of those six, three are good and three are boring and/or stupid. The really good ones shine like diamonds in coal. Vidcrest, who put out the infamous “Mondo Cane” movies, a company that is still around and run by Robert Weinbach who is still alive put this thing together, he seemed to specialize in finding weird and unusual shorts and putting them together. At the time, the only way to get a hold of this collection was to get it on VHS, at first when I e mailed him he said he had no copies, then he e mailed me back and said he had found a VHS copy in storage, so I bought it. Watching this, I could tell most, if not all of these shorts were shot on Super 8 and most if not all were probably student films. I searched this one out when a buddy of mine sent me a list of live action/animated shorts, one of the shorts on this VHS, “Twilight Journey” got my attention. The problem is this VHS was recorded to EP mode which makes the picture look kind of shitty, its to jam more stuff on less tape, the picture is soft and fuzzy, sometimes you can’t see what is being filmed. So without further ado, here are the good and the bad of “Strange Tales”.

The first short, “The Visitant” is an OK short, a guy chases the ghost of his dead son through a cemetery which looks like the famous Forest Lawn Cemetery in Burbank, CA, me and my weird family used to have picnics there, many famous people from the Golden Age of Hollywood are buried (and turning over in their graves). As he is chasing his son, a zombie chases him with an axe and various dead people as well as an driver-less van try to run him down, he comes across his daughter who is cursing him for killing himself and his son in a drunk driving accident, the guy finds out he is in purgatory and now destined for hell. This one had some cool make up effects and was at least interesting.

The second short is called “Desire in a Public Dump” and I wasn’t too impressed with this one, though I gotta give it credit for not dragging on too long. When I watched this I figured this one was shot in the 1980’s like the rest of the shorts on the tape, but the whole look of the actors and actress and the whole feel screamed “1950’s” yes I found out that this short was shot in the 1950’s, it is very weird to have all the other shorts be filmed in the 1980’s and one lone one from the 1950’s. In this one a hobo stumbles on a picture of a redhead pin up who comes out of the picture and when he goes to kiss her he gets a pitchfork through his chest, the girl disappears from the picture and is replaced by a gorilla, a kid with a BB gun finds the picture and it ends there.

The third short is “A Day in the Life of Snidley Carmichael” stupid, boring and hated this fucking short. All it is is a guy spazzing out to opera music, running around like a fucking retard pretending to get shot. Not funny and a waste of this tape. Next.

The fourth short is by far the best and most interesting, “Twilight Journey” is a god damn trip and this is the reason why I searched this tape out. I wasn’t disappointed, a hybrid of live action and rotoscoped animation, this one is hard to peg, this is acid for people who never have or will drop acid. From what I can tell the story is about a kid whose mom is prostitute, she wears a pig mask I guess out of kinkiness, now this is where it gets confusing either the boy kills his mom while the John is asleep or the John kills her and sets the house on fire.

As the John runs away in his car he gets in an accident and dies, soon he is tumbling through animated space.

Soon he encounters weird shapes, pyramids and killer orcs, whoever did this put a lot of work into it, looks like the guy was probably inspired by Ralph Bakshi’s “Lord of the Rings, LSD and a lot of pot.

Looking for keys and a sword battle ensues, its marvelous and fantastic and worth the price of this video, I wasn’t as mad when this short met my expectations, it made it worth the three other boring shorts on this thing. My only gripe is the short ends abruptly, wish this had had a longer running time and Robert would’ve knocked the other boring fucking shorts off this thing.

The fifth short is “Crystal Quest”, I loved this one, this one follows a guy who is being chased by something or somebody on what looks like a different planet, he takes the crystal from the mouth of a stone monster then he is actually chased by a monster who corners him near an elevator.

As he pushes the button and the elevator the monster chasing him runs away and he thinks he scared the monster off until he turns around and sees a behemoth of a monster blocking the elevator.

He dives underneath the monster’s legs shuts the elevator and pushes the lobby button. He gets to the bottom and the door opens and you find out the “Crystal Quest” is a futuristic game show. I loved this one, the make up was good and I wouldn’t be surprised to find out that the people who worked on this student film went on to do special effects and make up on bigger projects. This one was goofy fun and the other good short in this collection and the last good one.

The sixth and most certainly last one is “Bus Bench” all I can say is “YAWN”, “Strange Tales” goes out on a huge whimper and not a bang. Some old lady sits on a bench while buses and people go by, she seems to be thinking about her past and her own daughter or something. This was boring, so bad I was looking at the clock thinking about other stuff I could be doing. On the back of the VHS box it says “Award winning shorts” yeah, Weinbach I highly doubt this. So all in all there was three good shorts and three boring shorts, so is this worth your clams? I’ll say this much “Twilight Journey” and “Crystal Quest” will make it worth the price, and you’ll want this if your a horror anthology completest.

So where do you pick this up? Well if you want a tape you’ll have to hound Robert you can go to his geocities looking web site here:

He has a DVD version on his ebay page but talking with one of my friends who ordered a DVD its almost the same version as VHS:

If you want a preview of what your gonna get go here:

By noisepuncher_caiaav

De-scrambling white noise audio, visual and sometimes the other senses.

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