Here it comes boils n’ ghouls; another arcane anthology that will assault our putrid peepers with a multitude of fun-sized fright flicks! Let’s see how Hi-Death stacks up, and if it’ll contain more hits than misses…
The obligatory wrap-around segment comes in the form of Terror Tour (written and directed by Brad Sykes) which features two comely lasses taking a horror based tour of L.A. while watching a series of tremble inducing tales along the way. In my opinion these are always the most superfluous of segments in these things, and this gets the job done okay.
First up comes Anthony Catanese’s Death Has a Conscience; which tells the story of hardcore music fan and addict (of the fictional drug Spit) Erin (Jensen Jacobs) who decides to come down in a rank-ass motel room. Sounds prosaic enough, except the ol’ Grim Reaper makes the scene to have a heart to heart with our heroine!
I enjoyed this one quite a bit; the chatty Death angle was fresh and well handled (as was his make-up…rendered practically, Dagon be praised), Erin was a flawed, yet easy to relate to protagonist, and the Reaper’s minions were executed in such a simple and creepy way…all of this made the entire affair a solid watch and fun through and through…and I didn’t even mention that sweet Argento-esque lighting scheme…
Next comes Tim Ritter’s Dealers of Death, which concerns the misadventures of serial killer addict and snuff film aficionado Marty (Todd Martin) has a thing for serial killer memorabilia and snuff films. Of course he soon gets balls deep into actual filmed murder and mayhem…but can he survive the ordeal?
This one was a tad on the overly long side, and lacked the visual panache of the previous installment. Martin was great in his role, I just wish the events that surrounded him had a bit more punch and originality (though the gore was fun and reminiscent of Herschell Gordon Lewis’ oeuvre).
Moving on we have Amanda Payton’s Night Drop which details the bizarre goings-on at the local video store (right in the nostalgia feels, amirite?) after the doors close for the day. Long story short; blood is accidentally spilled on a disc that when played shows a series of outre images that lead to an Evil Dead by way of Lovecraft nightmare for our hapless employee!
Filled with disturbing imagery, great make-up, and effective “found footage” aesthetics; this sequence is absolute horror biz bliss, and the strongest entry so far!
Following that we get a returning Sykes presenting a story titled Cold Read that concerns Julianna Morris (Fabiana Formica) auditioning for a role that ends up being a bit more than mere acting.
This one was a solid lil’ psychological thriller…well done, with nice gore make-up…but ultimately not really my bag.
Finally we get Todd Sheets’ The Muse; the story of an obsessed painter (Nick Randol) being groomed by a demon for eventual communion with the Elder Gods…a task made possible by creating paintings with the blood of the freshly murdered!
This was by far my favorite segment. I love Sheet’s previous work, and this piece delivers the spookshow goods as well with copious amounts of boobs (courtesy of the always welcome Dilynn Fawn Harvey as a hapless call-girl, not to mention a showstopping dark ritual later in the tale), blood, monsters, and lurid, Bava-esque lighting. Add some serious Lovecraft vibes to the mix and you have a solid gold wicked winner sure to please any horror hound!
In the end, Hi-Death delivers five terror tales in varying styles, and there isn’t a stinker in the bunch (which is no small feat when it comes to these anthologies). In the end it’ll be up to personal taste as to which you enjoy the best…but there’s a lil’ something for every fear fiend within this flicks runtime!