Directed by Michael Armstrong [Other horror films: The Haunted House of Horror (1969), Hexen bis aufs Blut gequält (1970)] & Stanley A. Long [Other horror films: N/A]
This British anthology horror film may be cheap, but I think it has a lot of heart and occasional originality. It’s not the most polished movie, but Screamtime does have a decent amount going for it.
I’ve seen this one before, and I remembered a good portion of it (being the framing story, along with two of the three tales here). I remembered that I thought it was decent, but not great. That assessment is spot on, but that’s not at all damning. All three of the stories here are, at the very least, good, and when all the stories in an anthology horror film are good (which doesn’t happen very often), then you know you’re doing something right.
To be sure, the framing story here is laughably weak. It’s not as bad as Slices, but then again, what is? Here, two guys steal some videotapes from a store, and go to a friend’s apartment to watch them. Those tapes make up each of the three stories, being ‘That’s the Way to Do It,’ ‘Dreamhouse,’ and ‘Do You Believe in Fairies?’. Obviously, the set-up is utter weaksauce, but because I sort of like the movie, it doesn’t lose anything because of that.
Of the three stories, the one that comes closest to great is the last one, ‘Do You Believe in Fairies?’, This is partially due to quite an original story dealing with gnomes and fairies, and it’s just a lot of fun, especially with the performances of Jean Anderson and Dora Bryan. Both of the others are pretty fun too – ‘Dreamhouse’ is more a slow-burn about a woman seeing visions in her house, whereas ‘That’s the Way to Do It’ is decently solid throughout, about an older gentleman being put down by his family for running a Punch and Judy puppet show.
There are good performances in all of the stories (aside from the framing sequence, that is), which is nice. From the first segment, there’s Robin Bailey (See No Evil), whose performance reminds me a decent amount of Peter Cushing from his segment in Tales from the Crypt. Yvonne Nicholson wears the biggest pair of glasses I’ve ever seen in ‘Dreamhouse,’ and she’s believable throughout. And from the final story, as I mentioned you have the pair Dora Bryan and Jean Anderson. Both played the sweet older women nicely, and Jean Andersone reminded me of a mixture between Frances Bay (Happy Gilmore) and Myra Carter (Storm of the Century).
No doubt Screamtime is a cheap film. There’s not much in the way of special effects, and the framing sequence is never great (though I do love the utterly ridiculous ending). Even so, Screamtime has a lot of heart and originality, and I deeply applaud this British film for that. If you want an anthology horror film that’s worth seeing, give Screamtime a chance.
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