What’s It About: An anthology film with three British produced yarns about a killer marionette puppet, a woman who sees ghosts in her new home and lastly, a parable about how you shouldn’t steal from old ladies who are protected by fairies and garden gnomes (I’m not making this up). The stories are intercut with three New Yorkers watching each story on video, which two guys ripped off from a rental store earlier that day.
Here are some of my observations as I watched the film:
- Produced by Manson International. Nice. Always good to see the name Manson and its quality products.
- Two minutes in and we see gratuitous boobies in a shower.
- So these two guys steal 3 VHS tapes from a video store and go over to this girl’s apartment to watch them. Odd way of starting an anthology horror film especially since the fellas are older gents, not teens. Wouldn’t it be easier, safer and legal to rent a few movies for a few bucks?
- The first story involves a struggling puppeteer and his bad seed step son, named Damien. Damien hates his step dad and his puppets. Damien feels second fiddle to the puppets and he burns the puppet stage in public.
- Moments later Damien is beaten to death on the beach with a 2×4 and we never see the killer; only the POV but we’re to assume its Punch the puppet.
- No one in his family likes his puppets. Ungrateful people are being fed with the money he’s not making entertaining kids for free! Leave the guy alone; at least he’s passionate about something!
- Wife now takes a 2×4 beating from Punch. Are people really not able to defend themselves from a ten-inch puppet with a paddle? It takes a few dozen blows to the head to kill these people because the puppet is so weak.
- Which is really sad that the puppet takes so long to kill someone when it’s revealed moments later that it is, in fact, the puppeteer killing people with the puppet and not Punch magically come to life.
- While struggling with the last victim, the puppeteer falls in a garbage truck and is pulverized. That’s it.
- The second story has a newlywed couple move into a new house and the wife starts seeing things and she thinks they’re ghosts. Ever notice that in ghost stories, the ghost usually never appears unless the haunted living people go seek them out? In this story the lady is the only one seeing things like dead kids and blood stains as well as hear noises for a couple of days now and when she hears a noise upstairs, all alone in the house, her first instinct is to grab a knife and find out what it is. Just. Leave. The. House.
- The wife brings in a paranormal expert and the expert finds it funny that most people are skeptical of ghosts and hauntings. Well it’s probably because its incredibly rare and probably hoaxes.
- Not to nitpick but the wife has been wearing the same striped sweater since we met her. Either she hasn’t unpacked her clothes yet or this film was filmed all in the same day.
- Again she hears noises in the attic, alone, and she goes to investigate. She seems very cool with the fact that there was a cat up there. I don’t think they even owned a cat.
- She then witnesses a whole murder spree by a psychopath. By the end she tries to intervene by throwing a telephone but the scene disappeared. Then the killer returns and instead of knifing the previous victim he chokes the guy with the phone cord. The next scene has the husband talking to the new owners and explains that his wife is doing better in the mental ward. It’s then revealed that the new owners are the young guy killed with the phone cord and the kid on the bike is the younger brother so it’s these people that the wife has been fore-seeing the future murders for. As the husband gets in his car his throat is slashed by the killer and then the killer goes into the house. A newspaper in the backseat has the headline “Mass Murderer Escapes.”
- The New York guy puts in a new video as the other guy goes to ask the girl for cigarettes and she’s naked on the bed waiting for him.
- Another English horror tale. I’m guessing that these 3 tales were filmed and were shelved. Then an American producer got a sweet deal on these movies and made a cheap anthology with them and just had to film the New York guys stealing the videos and then watching them.
- Did you ever wish you could see a horror film that had crooks try to rob kindly old ladies of valuable jewels, gold and cash and they were attacked by fairies and little people dressed as garden gnomes? Well look no further than the third installment in Screamtime.
- Young hotshot BMX biker, Gavin, needs money and answers an ad to be a handyman for this old house inhabited by two kindly old ladies. They tell him that the first owner of the house was a nobleman and his wife, Lady Hurley who was a terrible adulterer. Lady Hurley made a pact with fairies to help her dispose of the old lovers when she was done with them by killing them and burying them in the garden with the help of garden gnomes. I’m not sure what the fairies get in return other than a nice garden.
- Gavin discovers that the old ladies are rich and decides to rob them with the help of his two buddies. Why he didn’t wait or plan this heist better is a bit baffling especially since he has free-range access to the house. He could’ve simply robbed them a little at a time, not to arouse suspicion, but I digress. While robbing the ladies he and his chums are killed by fairy magic. One is attacked by a dwarf dressed as a gnome, the other killed by a zombie of one of Lady Hurley’s old lovers. Gavin meets Lady Hurley herself, makes out with her for a brief moment before a few sharp objects fly at his chest. Moral is don’t fuck with old ladies and their fairies!
- After the third film, the New York fella watching is choked to death by a zombie hand coming out of the TV and the other dude is beaten to death by Punch, the murderous puppet from the first tale. Moral is don’t steal VHS tapes or at any rate, don’t steal horror movie VHS tapes. If they had stolen a few rom-coms they probably would’ve survived.
Is It Actually Scary: Creepy for sure, especially the first tale if you’re squeamish of creepy marionette puppets. The second tale is easily forgettable but the third tale is downright hysterical.
How Much Gore: Not too shabby in the blood department. Every tale has its fair share of its victims shedding off their mortal coil’s in violent and bloody ways.
Best Scene: It depends. If you’re looking for good scary/gory then its the second tale with the murder spree the girl sees. When the killer offs the last victim he slashes his throat in his car and that was done fairly decently. But if you’re looking for best scene entertaining overall then watch the third tale’s gnome fight.
Worst Scene: While the movie is kinda dull and mostly predictable at times, there’s really nothing dumb or poorly written about it. The acting is OK but not great and it doesn’t star anyone I’ve ever seen before or after. The little person playing a garden gnome come to life is very poorly executed but its-so-bad-its-good. There’s also a scene where a few sharp objects are telepathically thrown at Gavin pinning him to the wall before a large knife flies at him and kills him.
Any Nudity: The New York gal whose apartment the VHS thieves go to to watch them is topless in a shower scene.
Overall: Not the best anthology horror movie although not the worst either. Its mostly forgettable and not worth seeking out. I only watched it because it was streaming on Netflix and thought it would be a hoot to pick apart and laugh at but it didn’t even deliver on that sadly enough. If you must see it, I’d say it wouldn’t be a complete waste of your time and the final tale with the garden gnomes and fairies might just make you chuckle enough to enjoy it.
Score: 4 Stolen VHS Tapes (out of 10)