Monday, October 30, 2017

Storytime With Claude Akins

Like the majority of horror fans, I generally look forward to watching anthology films with very particular expectations. If extremely consistent history has taught me anything, it's that most multi-story horror movies tend to be inconsistent, with some parts hitting and others failing miserably.

Then I queue one up and immediately see the Troma logo and edit my expectations to consistently terrible. 

Quick Plot: A prospective buyer comes to take a look at an LA mansion that just so happens to have a rich haunted history. Caretaker Claude Akins is happy to tell it, leading us all into a trio of tales involving ghosts, vampires, witchcraft, and a whole lot of ADR.

Directed by Stephen A. Maier, the first tells the saga of Hubert Whitehead, a hotheaded college student who goes on a murder spree when his fellow classmates don't appreciate his new wheels. Twenty years later, he's released from prison and promptly returns to his killing grounds only to be confronted by the zombified ghosts of his victims. 

Sadly, it's probably the best story of the bunch. 

It is not very good.

The second tale (by one-time director Kevin G. Nunan) follows a typical family whose life is upended when the eldest teenage son succumbs to a vampire seduction. For whatever reason, the segment is told in narration by the youngest (now grown) daughter and comes off like an earnest teenager's attempt to write a romance novel if said earnest teenager had never read one.

Finally, our third and longest (although by this point in Where Evil Lives, time seems to be freezing in an especially cruel way) segment follows the police investigation of a serial rapist/murderer with the help of a sassy, incredibly late '80s-dressed witch. It goes on forever to the point where I started to wonder if I had indeed become a vampire while watching the second story because surely, this part was at least two hundred years long. It's made by Richard L. Fox, a prominent Hollywood second unit director who owes me my soul.

Perhaps the one saving grace of Where Evil Lives (aside from Akins, who's pleasant, even if I started to wonder if in his old age, he had just wandered onto the set when a savvy producer somehow managed to convince him that he had actually signed on to do this film) is that it doesn't bear too many of the obnoxious Troma-isms you come to expect with that studio. The quality is terrible, but I guess I was grateful that it wasn't also loaded with the kind of ickiness so fitting of the brand.

Small favors indeed. 

High Points
This was Claude Akins' last film, and while it's in no way something that should represent his career, it's certainly nice to see him having some goofy fun so close to the end of his life

Low Points
The movie. Seriously, this movie

Lessons Learned
Remember to push "end" when you're finished with your call on a car phone

The best way to rebound from being stood up is to give in quickly to the sexy vampire next door

Witches of the early '90s were not afraid to play with color in their wardrobe


I can't think of a single reason why anyone would choose to watch Where Evil Lives. I suppose anthology completists might feel compelled, but for anyone else with a modicum of taste (I don't put myself in that camp, hence the reason why I can actually report back from finishing the movie) it's best you move on. 

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