Theatre of the Deranged (2012) review

By Jesse Miller,

As you enter the empty theatre, you hear the sounds of circus blaring from the speakers and as your eyes scan the room, you notice a horribly burnt man standing centre stage, who introduces himself as ‘Andy the Arsonist’.

“Welcome to THEATRE OF THE DERANGED” He proclaims, before proceeding to introduce the program for tonight’s entertainment – five short horror films, each by a different writer/director – and into the deranged we go.

First up on the program is writer/director M. Kelley & Shawn C. Phillips’
LUST FOR BLOOD, a tale about a man that wakes up one particular morning with – yep, you guessed it – a lust for blood and oddball short follows his violent escapades across town.

LUST FOR BLOOD feels like a first year film student’s love letter to splatter films, complete with over-the-top cheap effects, musical sound effects from Mac’s IMovie, some poor writing and terrible acting and really, a lot of this feels like crew and cast here are inexperienced.

At first, I thought it was having a laugh with us – y’know, being a satire of the melodrama you can find in theatre, which would tie in with the movies’ wrap around segments, and I’m still not sure whether it was supposed to be this bad – but either way, it comes off as a bizarre comedy and one that is quite funny.

Next up is Writer/Director Liz Gilbert’s BAD DENNIS, a tale about a group of friends heading out to a local site of some macabre history to get up to shenanigans and there, they uncover a disturbing secret.

BAD DENNIS plays out like a low budget slasher - complete with some poor acting, ridden with the usual horror clichés and featuring some brutal effects work – but the execution with some of the set pieces here are pretty poor and suspense here is sorely lacking, undermining what strengths this piece had to begin with.

Third on the list is Writer/Director James Cullen Bressack’s SPEAK EASY, a short that builds suspense from the start with a tale about two friends confronting each other over a heated argument that took place the night before we meet them.

SPEAK EASY is actually one of the better segments of this film and one of the better written and better preformed pieces, with a neat little twist in the narrative and some nice touches brought to the performances by the actors that really brings these characters to life, however, there is a synth musical score here that I feel is out of place with the drama and really softens the tension that is slowly building here.

Writer/Director Brian Dorton’s DOLL PARTS is next up and presents an intriguing little mystery/thriller that follows a man in his murderous ways, from his childhood to fifteen years later as an adult.

What was most frustrating about this piece was the atrocious dialogue and acting and to be frank, it really feels like this is on the same level as Troll 2 here – I feel dirty saying that but this is the comparison I was thinking of when I was watching a scene play out here, with some utterly terrible lines of dialogue and performances

This Is disappointing because underneath all this is an intriguing mystery working away and I do applaud Dorton for attempting such an interesting character study – one that has a few neat little twists of its own – but ultimately for me, it is let down by a poor script.

The final act on the program is Writer/Director Creep Creepersin’s CANNIBAL BLOOD GIRL, a wonderfully demented, gratuitous and oddly humorous short featuring porn star Sophie Dee as the titular character getting her oddball revenge (by spraying what appears to be acidic red mist out of her privates, no less) on the people that tried to rape her a few days before hand.

CANNIBAL BLOOD GIRL features some of the same problems that has plagued the previous entries but I think what makes this entry work is that it is so over-the-top, so unapologetic that it actually becomes a little fun watching a bloodied porn star squirt the bad guys in the eye with some magic acidic mist from her nipples – and that’s it for the remainder of the short – acidic nipple mist, death and some effective gore thrown in for good measure – and it’s loopy enough that it actually raises a chuckle and works.

Overall, I can’t really recommend THEATRE OF THE DERANGED as the horror anthology to go too on that movie night of yours, because too much of it is poorly written, executed and poorly performed and while all of the five shorts here have great ideas, they each are weakened by these problems.

No, if you’re looking for a great horror anthology, better try the recent Chillerama or CREEPSHOW 2 but if you enjoy examining indie or underground horror, these stories here just might appeal to you.

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