A young, curious woman stumbles upon an abandones theater and is presented with a showing of grotesque stories, while the puppet-like host slowly comes to life.
Anthologies have finally became of interest again. I say this being a huge fan of them, the idea of them are fun and they're rarely boring. Whether it's some of the classics like "Creepshow", or the slightly worse and more modern "Three Faces of Terror", they're all just fun. When "The Theater Bizarre" was first announced it was met with expected reactions - everyone wanted it. With names such as Tom Savini, Karim Hussain and Douglas Buck, Toetag Pictures and Marcus Koch involved, people were craving it. This was gonna be the anthology that brought it back, and made it more violent and up do date with our current sick needs. Sadly this isn't what we got.
The framing story by Jeremy Kasten is that of an abandoned theater and a woman who visits it. She arrives at a show hosted by Peg Poett - played by the always excellent Udo Kier. Peg Poett is a living puppet, and through-out the show he becomes more and more human. He presents six different stories to her. A simple but entertaining enough wrap-around story.
The first one is "The Mother of Toads". This was directed by the guy behind "Hardware" and "Dust Devil", among others. I think out of the bunch this is the most traditional anthology story, a monster story, basicly, which I think is very common. I won't go into detail because as you can expect it's about a toad-lady. I think this was an alright story to open up with because it's not the most interesting one, but still offers enough to get us going. I would've liked it if the fully transformed toad-lady would've been present a bit longer before ending it, but oh well. Not too good of a segment but overall entertaining enough.
Next up was the cheesy love-horror "I Love You". Directed by Buddy Giovinazzo who also did "Combat Shock". We have an international couple, he is German and she is French, and she is breaking up with him because she has found someone else. And this doesn't end well for her. Very ridiculous, and even more-so with the German accent. It ends with a stupid post-murder suicide and our German silly man repeating "I love you" to his dead wife while dying. Not very good and brought down my expectations a peg. But not enough because what followed was the worst of them all.
And the worst being "Wet Dreams", by everyones favorite (although he's an asshole) Tom Savini. Now this was just confusing and rather boring. Crappy performances, especially by Tom Savini as one of the leads, definitely contributed to making it as bad as it was. The effects by Toetag Pictures weren't bad but they just never manage to excite the audience in a bad film like this. Although I will say that it started out rather interesting with a vagina dentata scene, but it didn't develop it further. Big names on directing and effects didn't help this story at all.
Around this point the anthology takes a turn from the cheesy stuff above, to more strange, atmospheric stories. Douglas Buck's "The Accident" is the black sheep of the bunch as it never really becomes horror, instead it's about a child understanding death by seeing it in front of her. Very slow and focused on philosophical ideas about death. I thought this was pretty good, but definitely placed in the wrong anthology.
I was personally most interested in seeing Karim Hussain's story "Vision Stains". He always have something interesting up his sleeve, why would this be any different? It wasn't. It's about a woman who collects memories from social outcasts by killing them and sucking the memories out of their eyes with a syringe, and into her own. The idea was bizarre and the scenes where she attacks them for the memories were pretty cool - I especially thought the syringe scenes were the strongest parts of the entire anthology. Sadly this one lost me towards the end where it just didn't have a good way of tying it together, which disappointed me after such a strong beginning.
The best one was saved for last. "Sweets" by documentary (and "Plague Town") director David Gregory, with effects from Film Bizarro friend Marcus Koch. This one was gross and stupid, which was exactly what we needed right about now. After the three unintentionally stupid stories, followed by two slightly more philosophical and meaningful stories, "Sweets" was a perfect way to end this anthology, and was the only story I have no complaints for at all. It's about a couple who are just stuffing themselves full of sweets. Sweets are laying all over the place, they eat with their hands and are just being pigs. But the woman is breaking up with pathetic guy, breaking him down. Then it switches to the woman going to a party where the guests are just as disgusting stuffing themselves full with anything food-related they can get their hands on. And eventually the main course is brought in - the boyfriend. As expected, this has some "Sweet Movie"-esque food scenes but for the most part it's intentionally over-the-top silly, gross and sexual. Not to mention that the finale has the best effects in the movie.
"Sweets" is a highlight in an otherwise bland anthology that seemed to focus more on the names involved rather than the stories it was telling. The three first stories are meh at best, and then it gets gradually better from there. If you expected a violent, repulsive and unique roller-coaster then this isn't the anthology you want, this is rather forgettable and uninspiring for the most part. However, die hard fans who are very familiar with what anthologies usually offer will get what they are looking for.