If horror movies were transmuted into an actual human being it would most likely end up looking like the old guy from The Fog; a craggy and ominous storyteller by a fire spinning various yarns as the night grows darker. Which is a way of saying the anthology film is to horror movies as bread is to a sandwich, a perfect and ultimate final form that distills all that the very concept is designed for. From the originating campfire tales giving way to Edgar Allen Poe, E.C. Comics and Creepshow, bite-sized spooks are the DNA of the genre, which is why it’s so surprising that anthology films are traditionally the toughest nut to crack.
There’s a myriad of reasons for that and you can’t help but go into one of these wincing and skeptical, as it’s often a long ride and it may be very, very bumpy. Thankfully, the only bumps found in A Night of Horror: Nightmare Radio are of the ‘in the night’ variety as this anthology boasts eight spine-tingling horror shorts, each of which are worth your time!
Plot: As the host of a popular horror-themed radio show, disc jockey Rod Wilson shares tales of terror with his eager listeners. But tonight the announcer begins to receive strange calls from a child who desperately asks for help. At first, he thinks it’s a bad joke until he discovers the calls hide a dark secret…
Director(s): Luciano Onetti, Nicolás Onetti, Joshua Long, Adam O´Brien, Matt Richards, Oliver Park, A.J. Briones, Sergio Morcillo, Pablo S. Pastor and Jason Bognacki.
Writer(s): Mauro Croche, Michael L. Fawcett, Guillermo Lockhart, Matthew Richards, Santiago Taboada and Michael Kraetzer.
Cast: Adrián Barriopedro, Rachel Winters, Marina Romero, David Nerman, Kevin Dee, Strange Dave, Gregory J. Fryer, Clara Kovacic, Kera Obryon and James Wright (Rob Wilson).
Runtime: 100 minutes of ghastly and grotesque chillers!
WHAT NAMELESS EVIL LURKS ON THESE TRANSMISSIONS?
Full disclosure, Nightmare Radio is ultimately a collection of YouTube uploaded horror shorts, a few of which can still be found on the platform, that have now been linked together by a brand-new wraparound segment featuring the storytelling disc jockey, Rob Wilson. This could be seen as a markdown for the film but, personally, it’s a unique and interesting strength. One need look no further than David Sandberg’s Lights Out, which eventually became a feature-length film, as proof that YouTube is a justifiable place for new talent to experiment and show off what they can bring to the table.
What’s special about Nightmare Radio in that regard is it serves up some of the choicest shorts to a greater audience, boutique festivals and just those that don’t traverse the more haunted areas of the internet. If this horror movie succeeds at anything, it’s that it shows off a lot of burgeoning talent all at once in a highly inventive way, along with the ingenuity and variety of the horror community. That by itself makes it worth watching, honestly, as several of these directors have now blipped onto the radar where they may have remained unknown previously.
JOLTING TALES OF TENSION IN THE GRAND TRADITION!
Not to say that this horror collection is only here if you want to scope out new talent like a non-creepy pee wee football scout. This is one of those horror movies that is a perfect collection for that ready-made for your popcorn, blanket and dark and stormy night. Not all might be terrifying, such as A Little Off The Top, which is darkly comedic in its hair-raising absurdity, but each one is either fun or boasts a neat twist you weren’t expecting like all good E.C. Comics used to.
When a particularly effective horror short comes on though, it delivers on the scare factor. Be it lingering psychological horror in The Disappearance of Willie Bingham, whither a murderer is slowly transformed via dehumanizing surgery into a cautionary tale for school children as to what crime does to you; or Gotas, featuring one of the most unsettling monster designs in ages and stomach-churning terror, all wrapped in a tale of truly heinous trauma.
Vicious is a standout of atmospheric tension, expertly crafted from its framing and sound design to how it picks on classic unconscious fears of what lurks in the dark right in front of you. There’s such a variety of voices, tones and even settings that you can never settle into the complacency of expectation. There’s always something new coming up and no short overstays its welcome. If you’re looking for horror movies that move along at a nice pace, this anthology should satisfy you.
The simplicity of many of the stories is particularly gratifying, which is where that DIY ingenuity comes from, making it almost better these weren’t shot with an eye toward a theatrical anthology film since it retains that lowkey aura. Post-Mortem Mary is such a small and uncomplicated tale that it feels like you’re being told a story and not some larger bombastic bit of strangeness that jumps and music cues overtake. Allowing for what the tale is and the elements in it to dictate each beat, each scare, each ratcheting up of suspense.
Unfortunately, the weakest aspect of the film is its wraparound segment that slowly morphs into the final short of the film. It’s a very cool concept, that of a scary story radio show, and one worth continuing or revisiting, but between so-so dialogue and a relatively flat performance, you never really engage with anything happening in the radio station. It never grinds the film to a halt as it still holds enough of a unique look and idea to keep the story flowing, but it’s unfortunate and ironic that the one bit filmed for the movie is the one that doesn’t work.
DARE TO TUNE IN TO THESE WEIRD YARNS OF EERIE TERRORS!
More of a collection of short films than a Creepshow or V/H/S styled anthology where a cohesive tone, style or even story connects anything, A Night Of Horror: Nightmare Radio is still a perfect way to spend a spooky Saturday night or even throw on for a Halloween party. It’s a film ready to make you think twice about what’s at the end of that dark hallway outside your bedroom door. But even when you’re not so easily spooked, it also provides a glimpse at what the future of fright could very well look like as each one of these directors gets a much-deserved spotlight.
Uncork’d Entertainment broadcasts A Night of Horror: Nightmare Radio onto VOD and DVD starting September 1st! Featuring eight unique horror movies in one chilling package.