Sunday, February 12, 2023

Vampus Horror Tales

In anthology movies, the host is the most important part. In this case, Vampus is less macabre-looking than Tales from the Crypt’s Crypt Keeper (just barely), but the grave digger does similar work. Unlike most anthology framers, Vampus also ranks up a significant body-count of his own in Vampus Horror Tales, which releases Tuesday on VOD.

Vampus hates it when people call him Mr. Fettes, maybe because it is weird to be named after James Bond’s boarding school. Regardless, those like the obnoxious YouTuber touring his cemetery usually wind up dead. Vampus’s segments are the best parts of his film—by far—whereas the constituent tales are a rather mixed bag
 (but they all share consistently stylish black-and-white cinematography).

It starts with a pretty good one, “La Boda,” directed by Manuel Martinez Velasco, in which a bride and one of the groomsmen find themselves stuck in a nightmarish time-loop. It is still a horror story, rather than science fiction, as you can tell from the blood on their clothes.

Perhaps the best self-contained tale is Erika Elizalde’s “Cumpleanos,” essentially a mini slasher film evocatively set in a carnival funhouse, whose various attractions pay homage to classic horror films. Montse Pla and Dunia Rodriguez are surprisingly fierce as the two women on the not-so romantic ride.

“Segunda Cita” starts as a promising riff on
Wait Until Dark, wherein the blind Margot realizes her new boyfriend is a psycho, who isn’t wearing pants. Unwisely, she agreed to join him for a weekend at his remote summer house, where he intends to kill her. Director Isaac Berrocal sets it up nicely, but turns out disappointingly conventional.

“Linaje,” directed by Piter Moreira, is yet another pandemic horror story, which nobody needed. In this case, it is a vampire plague that originated in street vendor hotdogs, but the moody tragedy of it all is a real downer.

Regardless, the real star is Saturino Garcia, who is terrific as Vampus. He is sort of like a talkative version of Angus Scrimm’s Tall Man, but he is even more entertaining than that sounds. Arguably, the next Vampus film should be all Vampus. Recommended for fans of horror anthologies,
Vampus Horror Tales releases Tuesday (2/14) on VOD.