Framed by old-fashioned, black-and-white spook-show bumpers for "Frightmare Theater," hosted by a balding ghoul (Tom Noonan), director/writer/editor Ti West's affectionate homage to no-frills fright flicks keeps it simple and succeeds on its own stripped-down terms. On Halloween night, with weather forecasters promising lashing storms, four squabbling young people practical Trevor (Karl Jacob), siblings Elliot and Allison ( real-life brother and sister Will Horneff and Vanessa Horneff), and token jerk Brian (Sean Reid) take a wrong turn en route to a wedding and have an accident on a deserted road. Their only cell phone is dead, so they strike out for the nearest house, where we've just seen or rather, heard a kindly old couple (Barbara Wilhide, Richard Little) run into something mighty scary-sounding in their barn. As Allison and Brian wait on the porch, Elliot and Trevor flag down a police car. Officer Mitchell (John Speredakos) calls a tow-truck operator and offers to drive them back to their car. But when they stop to pick up Brian and Allison, Brian is gone he said he was going to check out the barn. And as Officer Mitchell is poking around with his flashlight, he's swarmed by a flock of vicious bats. Trevor, Allison and Elliot take refuge in the barn, and while they debate whether or not one of them should risk going outside to retrieve Mitchell's keys and make a run for the car, his body vanishes. Before they can begin to fathom the implications, Mitchell himself reappears, bloody, frothing and viciously undead. There are no particular surprises in what follows, but playwright Noonan, best known as MANHUNTER's (1986) spooky serial killer, makes a refreshingly straight-faced horror host. West embraces his genre's tropes, right down to the scratchy, grainy cinematography that screams '70s exploitation, with such unbridled enthusiasm that it's hard at least for die-hard horror junkies not to join him. Executive producer Larry Fessenden, whose own richly evocative, low-budget horror pictures include the elegantly gloomy HABIT (1997), appears in the small role of the tow-truck driver.
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- Released: 2005
- Rating: NR
- Review: Framed by old-fashioned, black-and-white spook-show bumpers for "Frightmare Theater," hosted by a balding ghoul (Tom Noonan), director/writer/editor Ti West's affectionate homage to no-frills fright flicks keeps it simple and succeeds on its own stripped-d… (more)