It’s getting to the point where horror fans know what to expect from anthology films. Either the wrap-around is more compelling than the stories told within (as in “Hellblock 13” and “Grim Prairie Tales”), or, if lacking a wrap-around, there will be a decent lead-in, followed by two or three “take-‘em or leave ‘em” tales leading up to a fairly gory finish. “Death 4 Told”, produced by Ohio-based Fearmaker Studios and distributed through The Asylum, the new millennia’s AIP, suffers from the latter problems.
Of the four stories comprising this anthology, “The Doll’s House”, “Folklore”, “World’s Most Haunted” and “The Psychic”, only the last segment shows any sort of promise and originality. The first three are, sadly, utterly forgettable—tales of witchcraft, unseen werewolves and a haunted reality show—featuring leaden pacing and fair-to-awful acting. The final segment promises at first to deliver more of the same, starting out very slowly, and with a similar dead pace, it quickly picks up once we meet the title character, played to the hilt by Margot Kidder.
Kidder is a quack fortune teller, giving the readings that folks want to hear. Until a serial killer rears his head in the area. Suddenly, her psychic powers are no longer latent, and the cards she turns start to reveal very doomed futures for her clients. This segment also boasts appearances by “Rosanne’s” original Becky, Lacy Gorenson, as a plot complication, and Savini as Kidder’s final client. (Sadly, Savini himself ruined the ending for me at Chiller.) While Kidder is the true star of this segment, her scenes with Savini just crackle with energy—to the point where you end up wishing they had been the entire film.
Of the four movies, “The Psychic” is the one that shows some sort of promise for the filmmakers’ careers. Perhaps once they move out of the deathtrap of the anthology subgenre, we might find their talents shining in a single-narrative film.