Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Door 1 of the 5 Doors to Hell

Director - Chuck Conry (Morbid, Chuck and Goob Go to Crystal Lake)
Starring - Ryan Grooms (Morbid, Necronomicon Part 23), Kelly Carver (Room 101, Morbid), and Blaine Gilliam
Release Date - 2017
Genre - Horror
Tagline - "If you're seeing this you've already opened the first door"
Format - Streaming (online screener)

Rating (out of 5):
     Chuck Conry is a fucking legend!  No really, he is.  Well, he kinda is.  This man is a huge supporter of the genre.  He's ran a very successful horror site for well over a decade and worked on his own films.  Throughout his career he has directed several horror shorts and one feature length film.  Recently, Chuck set out to make his own anthology film set around a single VHS tape.  I enjoyed Chuck's first film and appreciated what he was trying to achieve.  I was excited to see how he would tackle an anthology film.  Chuck recently reached out to me to review his anthology flick Door 1 of the 5 Doors to Hell.  I want to thank Chuck for allowing Horror Society and myself the opportunity to see his new film.
     The film follows two horror snobs and their girlfriends who visit a local video store to score a movie for the night.  It is almost closing time and when they fail to pick one out the video clerk recommends they check out an old VHS tape he keeps secured behind the counter.  The accept it and take it back to their place where they pop in the horror anthology.  The first tale finds the girlfriend of one of the men in a rural setting with a man who is about to break into a barn to score some weed but what they find is backwoods killer family with a love for horror films and blood.  The second tale finds one of the horror snobs witnessing a hit and run.  The police interrogate him and suspect his is innocent but when a young woman arrives they quickly learn that the car responsible is supernatural and she is the key to stopping the specter speedster.  The third tale follows the other horror snob who is now a scientist working on a special serum but when another takes it unexpectedly they learn of the drugs real affects.  The final tale follows the horror snob from the last tale and the only surviving girl who are tossed in a tale where an experiment accidentally raises the dead.
    By this point in my review career you may have noticed that I'm tough on horror anthologies.  Growing up I loved horror but some of my favorite films to rent was horror anthologies.  I loved Creepshow, Creepshow 2, Twilight Zone: The Movie, Tales from the Darkside: The Movie, and Two Evil Eyes.  What I really enjoyed most about these films were the wraparound segments.  Especially Tales from the Darkside.  That one was always a favorite.  When I watch a horror anthology now for review I always hinge my review on the wraparound segment.  Door 1 of the 5 Doors to Hell has a damn good wraparound segment.  It is very similar to the V/H/S/ series with a little Warlock Home Video tossed in for good measure but it is more suited for the S.O.V. era of horror cinema.  The acting in this one is a little rough.  Some of the performances was pretty funny while others were shadowed with inexperience.  Some of the characters were written a little over the top and crazy like the character of Ebenezer which is portrayed by director Chuck Conry.  These types of characters are fun and require no real skill to play as long as the actor has fun with the role.  However, some of the more serious characters were a little awkward to watch at times.  They overreacted at times and underreacted at others.  This doesn't mean the cast is bad it just means they need a little more experience.  The story for this one is fun and fits well with the horror anthologies of the 80s.  The wraparound segment was easily my favorite part.  It was similar to V/H/S as I stated earlier but was very effective for this no budget production.  The first tale following the backwoods family with the mongoloid was solid.  It had a little trouble with pacing but was able to find it's footing and deliver.  The second tale following the phantom driver reminded me a lot of an episode of Are You Afraid of the Dark? that I really enjoyed growing up.  It did lack the atmosphere but was fun nonetheless.  The third segment was good old fashioned science run amok fun.  Who doesn't want to see a no budget story following a killer dick?  The final segment following the two fighting to survive in the backdrop of a zombie epidemic had it's moments but does fill like it was tossed together last minute.  Finally, the film does have some bloodshed which is expected from the director of Morbid.  The kills use practical effects which are hit and miss.  Some of the kills are effect and use classic camera tricks to pull the gags off while others show their budget and constraints.  The film does use a little CGI that, honestly, doesn't look that bad.  Overall, Door 1 of the 5 Doors to Hell is a rough, no budget flick that pays tribute to the horror anthologies of my youth.  Fans of Tales from the Darkside: The Movie and From a Whisper to a Scream should really check this one out. 

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