Here’s a rarity for you: an anthology that’s not only entertaining from beginning to (nearly) end, but containing films that are much better than the wrap-around segments, which, as a normal rule, are usually much more interesting and creative. In the case of “The Nightmare Collection Vol. 1”, the wrap-around and bumper consists of a single horror host named “Necro Nancy”, an undead schoolgirl sitting alone on a couch, talking to the audience in a single, badly-composed shot with low sound. Nancy herself seems quite personable, but her dialogue falls flat (when you can actually hear it). It’s as if the filmmakers thought having a pretty zombie girl in a schoolgirl outfit was enough—who cares about the techniques? So unless that truly is enough for you, disregard Nancy and jump to the movies.
“My Skin” is a very strange and stylish ode to Poe and Edward Gorey directed by Christopher Alan Broadstone. Death is collecting the soul of a murdered young woman, but takes the time to call her killer and completely incriminate him. Broadstone’s Death, it seems, has a lot of time on his hands, but that doesn’t take away from the mesmerizing imagery on display here.
“Monster” is by fan-favorite Garrett White, who produced and directed the amazing indie spectacle “Necropolis Awakened”. “Monster” is a tongue-in-cheek retelling of Mary Shelley’s “Frankenstein”, with a nasty, bloody twist. Complete with all the low-angles and hyper-kinesis on display in “Necropolis”.
“Bad Company”, by Aaron Cartwright and cinematographer Julian Halloran, is similar in structure to “Monster”, in that the principal characters are unpleasant gun-toters with foul mouths. This time, though, their Australian, so the accents make the bad words pretty. It’s an unpleasantly fun revenge story set in the middle of the desert and it gets the viewer pretty charged up near the end.
“The Wretched” is the stand-out of the collection. Martijn Smits, a graduate of the Utrecht School of Arts in the Netherlands, Europe, crafted this beautiful dialogue-free tale of two men—one who awakens chained to the floor of an unlocked prison room, and another who is awakened from sleep by noise outside his sunny bedroom window. The stories meet at the end—and the resolution won’t be too much of a surprise to anyone who’s ever seen an episode of “Night Gallery”, but the beauty of the filmmaking will keep the viewer captivated throughout.
“Don’t Worry, It’s Only Your Imagination” is directed by Bill “Splat” Johnson and is the one touted most loudly by the producers of the collection. It’s a film that won a bunch of festivals, written and directed by a Hollywood pro effects artist who worked on “Eight Legged Freaks” and “The Patriot”. So it’s a high-profile number. It’s also dull, badly shot in grainy video, and doesn’t hold a candle to the movie right before it, namely “The Wretched”, which created dread where this one creates a sense of painful familiarity. And it’s not even that “Don’t Worry” is awful. The story has an interesting premise—a young man cleaning up after the decomposed corpse of a scientist who, of course, harbored a secret—but a lackluster execution. Perhaps it was the build-up that this particular segment was given that makes it a letdown. Whichever, this and the “Necro Nancy” segments belong on a separate collection altogether.
Ultimately, “The Nightmare Collection” is a must-have for fans of short horror movies, if only for the quirkiness of “My Skin” and the beauty of “The Wretched”. Unlike most anthologies, there really is something for every horror fan here, even if all you’re looking for is a cute chick in a plaid skirt who is willing to talk to you for an hour.