Thursday, June 25, 2020

Rad Chad's Bite-Sized Horror Deal: Scare Package (2019)

Scare Package (2019)
Rating: ***1/2
Starring: Jeremy King, Noah Segan, Toni Trucks

It has been a long while since I treated myself with a good anthology horror film, among the last I recall seeing and sincerely enjoyed being the mostly amazing sci-fright cluster Galaxy of Horror (2017). (Not to be confused with 1981's Galaxy of Terror) The reason for this is that plenty of modern horror anthologies just couldn't tip their scales right in giving enough fun horror shorts and I normally find myself enjoying one or two segments out of, let's say, five or six. Anthologies are a gamble and it's a rare chance to have one where all, if not most of the segments work. (Hence why I hold films like Trick' R Treat (2007), V/H/S/2 (2013) and the first two Creepshow movies with high regards.)

Scare Package is another modern outing for anthology movies, one that markets itself as a cheesy horror-comedy throwback ride maneuvered by seven directors which I find rather endearing considering its trailer looked fairly produced (and bloody as hell) and, from the looks of it, majority of the shorts are slasher centered. So will it sink, or will it swim?

The movie cold opens with, um, Cold Open; it's about a very average looking guy named Mike who seems to be the personification of horror story cliches in a literal sense. He's the guy who makes sure a haunted house is sold, a creepy doll is cursed and so forth, all instructed through a piece of paper from a mysterious source. It appears that he isn't the only one who makes sure the horror trappings you know and love happen as his friend is always given a hero role, a fact that Mike envies greatly to the point he decided to break the rules one night and tries to be a character in a slasher movie. It ends terribly for some.

This opening more or less sets the running theme of the rest of the movie, a meta-humor look at all of the horror traits pushed to cheesy extremes that borderlines parody. It's a cute and clever way to start a film that delivers some modest chuckles, shifting the segment's end to our the movie's main hook, Rad Chad's Horror Emporium

In Emporium, we follow the titular Chad, quirky owner of a VHS rental store, as he trains a new employee named while brushing off an annoying horror buff who really really wants to work in the place but can't because, well, he's a jerk. It's a wraparound that feels the least like a horror film and more of a work place comedy with a horror genre aftertaste, filled with funny exchanges, genre references and witty grounded gags that center in the on-goings between colleagues and customers. In between all of their shenanigans, we get our segments through random VHS tapes these guys would come across, starting with One Time In The Woods

Woods follows a small group of campers who gets encountered by a man warning them that he's dangerous, he's going to kill them and that he's going to change to something. Never really explained what he'll change into but involves melting into goo for reasons. A Howling IV (1988) werewolf maybe since silver pauses the transformation. (as in if the guy's in the middle of his melty transformation when silver gets applied somehow, he's stuck as a melting pile of steaming meat ooze) Fortunately for these campers, one of them happens to be carrying a shiny pair of silver hand-cuffs. The problem with this, though? He's a backwoods slasher!

This is hands down one of my two favorite segments in the entire movie as it's practically a deep woods hack-a-thon exaggerated to cartoonish extremes with something like a single bear hug (from a deceptively lean man) can squeeze out organs or a rock throw can destroy heads with explosive results. Punctuate it all with a guy who's proceeding to melt nonchalantly and have all of this gore and body horror done with sticky and rubbery practical effects, and you have me as giddy as kid laughing at the short's often deadpan tone to all of the carnage.

The next segment, titled M.I.S.T.,E.R., is about a husband who plans on joining a small motivational group where figuratively neutered men come together to try earning their place back as the top of the food chain by being aggro. It turns out these men are not what they seem to be, but neither is our leading husband. Wouldn't say that this is a bad segment as it does have its share of funny gags and clever lines, but I didn't find the punchline to the whole short's joke that clever or inventive and the ending is just weak as it is random. It's without a doubt the weakest entry, but at least it has some good kills.

Girls Night Out of Body is a more artsy short, described as a post modern feminist slasher revenge body horror. In here, a trio of girls in their night out steals an ominous looking candy from a small convenient store, not knowing the odd effects the treat have in store for them, nor are they aware that a masked intruder is prowling around outside. It's only a slasher as an afterthought, with the segment branding itself greatly on the body horror aspect and its giallo-inspired art house direction of trippy-editing, creepy score and slow-mo dance sequences. The humor in this may leans on the dinky look of the resulting deformity that befall on the girls and maybe even some of their lines, but as a whole, it's more interesting than comical and I can't argue much with the results.

After that comes my second favorite segment, The Night He Came back Again! Part IV- The Final Kill, which satirize the non-dying trope of slasher killers as a group of teens captures a notorious masked murderer and tries to find a way to ultimately end him at the cost of their own life, one by one. This had me laughing my arse off as the murder attempts on the killer gets gradually extreme from multiple knife stabs to electrocution, force feeding fireworks to even a woodschipper mulching, all of this somehow backfiring at the teens as the killer still finds a way to murder them, which in turn gets equally ridiculous.   

The whole segment is a brutally funny watch, with special effects as gruesome as they are splattery and a few unexpectedly clever scenes getting a hefty guffaw out of me, like the moment our killer gets unmasked and our supposed final girl reacted in a way that I've grown curious about. It all ends with an extremely bloody note and I love every minute of it!

The sixth horror short is more inclined into the supernatural with So Much To Do, a possession story about a man who somehow ends up hexed and buried alive by a pair of men in black, his soul then taking the form of a living smoke that possess a random woman. It's not overly bloody or graphic, but the short does feature a funny brawl-out as the two souls fight for control over the body, all because one of them doesn't want to watch a TV show due to spoilers! A fun shallow piece, I'll definitely like it better if they at least give us some idea what exactly is going on.

The last short is certainly the longest and it transitions straight from Rad Chad's Horror Emporium. It's called Horror Hypothesis and without spoiling a lot, Chad finds himself collected with a few others inside a guarded secret testing site where scientists study the probabilities of horror cliches. Chad quickly deduces this and aims to help the others escape with his nerdy knowledge of horror tropes, which is easier said than done as the site's current test subject, a masked hulk known as the Devil's Lake Impaler, has just escaped, massacred nearly everybody and is now making his rounds through them.

Yet another slasher piece, Hypothesis can feel like a standard clunk of meta-humor and title dropping that's been done before with Scream (1996) or Cabin In The Woods (2012), but its abundance of gory demises and a fair selection of laugh-worthy bits still made itself work as a short and cheesy run on horror satire. It can get slightly irritating with Chad annoyingly geeking out assurances on how all of this is supposed to work out. He's funny in small doses but the more he takes the spotlight, the further his scenes become testy, which is a good thing that we get a change of lead/s at the near end and that the kills are splatsticky enough to distract us. It also helps that there's genuine wit in regards to this segment's parody and satire, the best ones being a running gag "good incest" discussion about Game of Thrones, a shaven young Tommy Jarvis gag ala Friday The 13th: The Final Chapter to distract a killer (leading to an equally hilarious montage of the killer being buddy-buddy with a cancer kid) and Joe Bob Brigg's unfortunate incident. (And Chad's reaction to it)

All in all, despite some flaws and a few misses from its jokes, Scare Package (2019) is a competent horror-comedy anthology that caters well with its capable production and lively direction. With all of its segments offering good laughs and decent set-pieces, this movie is set to course as a B-grade favorite, ready to entertain us with cheesy thrills!

1 female trips and gets a pair of pliers to the neck
1 female got stabbed on the chest with a pair of pliers, bled to death
1 male gets an axe thrown to his groin
1 male bear-hugged until guts squeezed out
1 female had her head destroyed with a thrown rock
1 male bludgeoned with his own severed legs
1 male slips face-first to an axe head
1 male and 1 female halfway melting into goo, left for dead (?)
1 male shot with a shotgun
1 male impaled with a flagpole
1 male decapitated with an axe
1 male poisoned with a bar of chocolate
1 male killed offcamera, blood splash seen
1 male knifed on the head
1 male had his head blown apart with an electrical surge
1 female strangled and hanged by the killer's dismembered legs
1 male had his neck crushed
1 male buried alive
1 male bludgeoned with a club
1 victim seen murdered
1 victim bludgeoned with a club
1 male impaled with a bunsen burner
1 male gets a thrown axe to the back
1 female sliced in half with a thrown treadmill
12 victims found slaughtered and mangled
1 male found murdered
1 female found murdered
1 female shot to death
1 female impaled with a lead pipe
2 males and 1 female seen skewered with a lead pipe
1 male stabbed through the head with a dismembered arm's bone
1 Joe Bob Briggs crashed through a wall, dies from wounds
1 male punched through the head
1 male disemboweled with an axe
1 male had his legs split apart
1 female impaled with a lead pipe (dream)
1 male immolated in car explosion
Total: 51 (?)

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