Directed by: Brad White, Michael Haney and Richard L. Anderson
Written by: Steven Armogida, John Willey, Michael Haney, Tori Covell Buchanan, Brad White, Bruce Onder and Jeffrey Sullivan
Starring: Sally Kirkland, Cameron Watson, Barbara Wilder, Perry Lang and Bruno Maucere
Reviewed by: Josh G.
I purchased Grave Images at a local library on July 4th, 2008. While the tape said thriller, it was the words in white text that grabbed my attention: ďIn the tradition of Tales from the Crypt...Ē I knew it had to have had some horror elements in it. So after my blind buy, I researched it on the internet. At the time, Grave Images was not even listed at the reliable Internet Movie Database. ďWeird,Ē I thought. After all, it was a film released by Astral Video, in association with Columbia Tristar Home Video. But it remained a mystery tape. More searching about, and I finally found what little more information this rarity had going for it. A closed EBay auction had it up for fifty dollars! Wow! What did I just stumble upon? With a 1992 video release, this Ď91 low budget collage of short films has finally been unearthed. Behold. The horror universe now recognizes Grave Images.
The first story, entitled Made for Each Other, is a serial killer plotted thriller involving Nancy (Barbara Wilder), a woman who loves romance but canít get over her old lover Jake from two years before. Then comes Paul (Cameron Watson), the notorious screwdriver killer, who stalks women by calling them Susan, fixated on the belief that they share a past with one another, right before he stabs them to death. Now, Paul befriends Nancy. Will she too fall as the latest victim of the psychoís rampage? Made for Each Other is directed by White, and written by Armogida and Willey. The second story, Art Lover, (the only one from 1989, not 1991) stars Sally Kirkland as Catlin, the wife of a rich man named Jerry (Allen Garfield), who falls in love with a beautiful expensive painting. Anthony (Tim Brod), the owner of the painting, falls for Catlin, and so, a fling begins. But how far will Catlin go to keep her relationship a secret? Or worse, what will she do when exposed? Written and directed by Michael Haney, Art Lover is a thriller of deceit and cold-blooded murder.
Following story number two is Whodunit to Whom?, a very short film about young Byron (Perry Lang) who sits next to a crazy bum (John Furlong) having a conversation with himself, believing his other self to be ĎDr. Kasnerí. When the man raises a knife up to kill himself, Byron attempts to stop him, but as the bus driver steps on the break, the knife plunges into the poor bum. Written by Tori Covell Buchanan (also starring as a concerned passenger) and Brad White (who also directed), Whodunit to Whom? is a psychological mind wanderer, where the cause of death remains undetermined. Finally, in the partly kiddie horror short Avid Readers, two boys, Marty (Bruno Maucere) and Adam (Danny Cole) go to their favorite bookstore, where Mr. Bullfinch (Robert Grindlinger) has an array of horror novels for their little minds. Curiosity gets the better of Marty when the front page to a book called ĎNecromancerí is found. Both he and Adam hide out in the store one night to find the rest of it. Spying on Bullfinch, Marty catches a mysterious cloaked customer (Eugene Mandelcorn) selling a human head in a jar to the store owner. What horrors lie beyond the back door of the shop for our tiny heroes? Written by Onder and Sullivan, and directed by Anderson, this short story is exactly why Grave Images can somewhat be considered a Ďlost terrorí.
Of all of these stories, the best include Made for Each Other and Avid Readers. They are the longest, as well as the closest to actual horror films, rather than the other two shorter thrillers. The acting in all of them, save for Art Lover, is so-so, and the expected talent one would presume an early 90s low budget chiller would contain. Art Lover is probably the best made, but itís not shocking, and Anthony always appears to be a little suspicious. With this in mind, falling for Anthonyís end of the feature twist isnít easy to do. Art Lover has some interesting scenes, including a no-nudity sex rendezvous in paint. Blue, orange, and yellow colored hands grasping at each other is nice and original. The acting is pretty good too. Other than that, itís just alright. I guess ďsome interesting scenesĒ has become ďone sex scene with paint that was kind of artistic.Ē Oh well, thirteen minutes of mediocrity isnít that bad, as the other three can still make up for its downfalls.
Made for Each Other has a twist, just like the other two thrillers. You donít see it coming until it starts to show itself in broad daylight. Nancy is innocent and appealing enough that you feel a little nervous for her when sheís having dessert with the screwdriver killer. However, the story isnít very tense most of the way through. When a cop comes into the diner where Nancy and Paul are eating, Paul runs off to the bathroom to hide. Why he does this, Iím not sure. Itís never explained whether or not the police have an identification on him or not. I like Paulís disorder, whatever it is. Thinking that thereís a whole story which connects to your life with a random woman is a freaky problem to have with you, I think. We have off screen stabbings, which leaves behind a little blood on the chests of the victims. No gore here Iím afraid. Itís lighter violence, but remains interesting with the continual thoughts of what Paul may do next. Donít expect much and you might enjoy yourself.
Whodunit to Whom? is even shorter than Art Lover. How odd. Thereís not much to mention here. A crazy person dies, a bunch of passengers fight over what really happened, and main character Byron doesnít have a chance. The ladies arguing over what they saw with one another is kind of funny, but overall this story is weak. To be honest, the real reason to watch Grave Images is for the final film, Avid Readers. Sure, Danny Cole and Bruno Maucere arenít very good kid actors, but they are part of the most interesting adventure. Havenít you ever wondered what was behind a closed off door at your library before? I thought so. Although itís mostly kiddie horror, with tame dialogue for the younger actors, thereís still some satisfaction in watching. The dark figure who bargains with Bullfinch never shows his face, and the head in the jar isnít something youíd find in an episode of Barney. Avid Readers is not creepy, and heaven forbid I call it scary. Merely a dip into some interesting effects and a cruel payoff.
The music in Avid Readers is silly, setting the tone for a horror short that knows itís not to take itself seriously. If anything, it teaches a lesson: little boys shouldnít play around with dark magic, or zombies will come alive and kill your best friend. Ooops! Slight plot spoil. But at least it has the guts to kill off children. The makeup for the zombies is kind of amateurish, but at least we receive something. Being an extremely rare movie, I wasnít expecting much blood. However, somebodyís head is mutated and their ears bleed out goo. Yucky. Grave Images is not a terrible collection, and even if the stories vary in content, they all turn out to be nice collective surprises. Shot on film that reminds me of a 90s soap opera, itís just what you need when craving something thatíll satisfy the want for silly TV-like movies. If you see it, buy immediately. Remember, itís a hard one to find. But if it were to ever resurface again in the market, my recommendation would be to Rent it!
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