Combustible Celluloid
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With: James Wright, Karl E. Landler, Nicole Alexandro, Marem Hassler, Chris Mammone, Stella, Charrington, Melanie Zanetti, Kathryn Marquet, Edie Vann, David Breen, David Nerman, Ingrid Falaise, Kevin Dee, Gregory J. Fryer, Marina Romero, Adrian Lopez, Abbi Chally, Strange Dave, Maria Forque, Ramon G. Del Pomar, Rachel Winters, Isabelle King
Written by: Mauro Croche, Michael L. Fawcett, Guillermo Lockhart, Matthew Richards, Santiago Taboada, Oliver Park, A.J. Briones, Juanlu Moreno Some, Jason Bognacki, Aline Bognacki, based on a concept by Michael Kraetzer
Directed by: Oliver Park, Jason Bognacki, A.J. Briones, Joshua Long, Sergio Morcillo, Adam O'Brien, Luciano Onetti, Nicolás Onetti, Pablo S. Pastor, Matthew Richards
MPAA Rating: NR
Running Time: 105
Date: 09/01/2020

A Night of Horror: Nightmare Radio (2020)

3 Stars (out of 4)

'Radio' Graves

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

This low-budget horror anthology with eight short tales is actually much better and spookier than I would have dared hope. The wraparound sequence takes place in a radio station, where bearded, long-haired DJ Rod Wilson (James Wright, who looks and sounds a bit like Alexander Skarsgård) tells horror stories on "Nightmare Radio." Over the course of the night, in-between stories, he starts getting strange calls and seeing weird things.

A prologue ("In the Dark, Dark Woods") tells a period-piece "Invisible Woman" story, with some cool FX. Then, after meeting Rod, we get arguably the best story, "Post Mortem Mary," in which a little girl is tasked to take the tintype of another young girl's corpse, but, of course, the corpse isn't very cooperative. The next one ("A Little Off the Top") begins on a close-up of a hairdresser presumably working on a client, but the reveal is something else. In the darkest story ("The Disappearance of Willie Bingham"), a prisoner is forced to undergo several cruel surgeries to "make an example of him."

Next up, we have a Spanish-language entry ("Drops"), but the video I saw had no subtitles (and I sadly do not speak Spanish), so I'm not sure what happened, except that there may have been a demon. "The Smiling Man" is very creepy, perhaps more of a nightmare than a story, and benefitting from an actor known as "Strange Dave." A naked woman in the woods is the main character in another very short one ("Into the Mud"), but with a powerful ending, and some great makeup FX. Finally, there's the sharp, effective story ("Vicious") of a grieving Englishwoman who comes home to an empty house and realizes that it's not so empty.

Each segment comes from a different filmmaker, and the shorts string together nicely, achieving a good pace. The movie is 105 minutes long in total, but 10 minutes of that is credits; each film gets its own, entire list. Weirdly, in the video I saw, I caught quite a few misspellings, especially in the closing crawl. "The Smiling Man" was spelled as "The Smilling Man," "Vicious" was spelled as "Viciuos," and "A Little Off the Top" was spelled as "A Little of the Top." I suppose the filmmakers didn't have any budget left over for a dictionary. But that's a minor quibble among what is really a decently solid anthology.

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