In a post-apocalyptic version of the wild west, folks covet a storytelling device (itself a primitive tattoo needle) and relate tales of a strange orb, the arte factum (think Heavy Metal‘s Loc-Nar) and it’s passage from owner to owner…you guessed it my fine fiends, we have an arcane anthology on our horrid hands (and I’ll be giving my two cents on each segment as we go)!
Our wrap around takes place in a saloon in that nightmare world mentioned above, and it acts as a hub for each yarn spun…also the Four Horseman show up because…who the fuck cares; it’s cool!
First up we get a tale of a warrior tattooing himself with the artifact as a creature comes to collect a the glowing orb he possesses. This was brief, but cool…I’d like to see this tale expanded.
Next up we get the story of an omniscient being who possesses that special sphere watching the lives of a couple in love from triumph to tragedy. This was arty and poignant, but was more human drama then crazy sci-fi thrills which may leave some viewers cold.
Following that, a cadre o’ cowboys go exploring a haunted graveyard and suffer nightmare visions on a quest to find…you guessed it, that magic ball that has become oh so familiar to us by now! Me being me, I loved this horror comic book style tale and all of the ghouls and mayhem it had to offer!
Moving on, we have the tale of a young girl taking revenge on her abusive patriarch by way of the Arte Factum. This one was okay…the abuse was hard to watch, but it justified the comeuppance so there was that…
Next comes a story of a young woman targeted by the C.I.A., but they are little match for the psychic abilities the orb has granted her. This one was a real stand out for me, and I would actually like to see it fleshed out into a feature…but my lord did it have some slip shod CG effects…
After that we are treated to tales of a mentally damaged young woman and the therapist that hopes to make a breakthrough in her healing process (cool twists in this one), cousins that must contend with an escaped lunatic, a man trying to clear his name of a crime committed in the past, A Victorian yuletide yarn involving Krampus (a fun monster design, near fairy tale narrative, and a gorgeous mansion made this one a real treat!!!), a story of intrigue and arcane secrets set in World War II Germany.
Soon things take a turn for the cosmic as we get the adventures of a space jockey encountering an evil planet, and the journey of a salvage worker on a distant world…both are solid, but man oh man is the former a real treat; featuring low-tech classic special effects (read: fuckin’ Grade-A awesome!!!) and a great score…like the psychic woman and Krampus yarns this too needs to be a feature!
As you can tell by my wicked words above, some of the segments featured in Arte Factum are massively kick ass, and others fall a bit lower on the Rad-o-meter; but none of the stories presented are bad in any way. My biggest qualm with the film is that it runs nearly 2 hours and goes overboard with the amount of stories presented. I would have liked to see some of the pieces run longer and be more fleshed out by reducing the number of segments presented (hell, give us two films…I’d gladly watch ’em).
All in all, Arte Factum is a fun, well made collection of terror tales and I believe it truly has something to appeal to the taste of any horror hound within it’s creepy collection!