Horror fans of a certain age fondly remember a time, long ago, when they would wander the isles of video stores as children, their eyes popping at the lurid, ghastly cover art, beckoning impressionable minds into a netherworld of sex and violence, seducing them with images of torn flesh and twisted monsters promising more than the actual movies usually delivered. That era has, in fact, become something of a fetish for adult horror fans, who wax nostalgic over their misspent VHS youth. And it’s that audience that will get the most out of SCARE PACKAGE, a raucously entertaining anthology that acts as a grue-streaked love letter to be-kind-rewind terror.
Seven tales of comic horror from eight directors, SCARE PACKAGE is less an anthology that a sketch comedy tour through a lineup of tropes, cliches and expectations one associates with the genre, a freewheeling cavalcade of wisecracks, sight gags and splatstick aimed at a knowing horror-hungry audience. It’s the KENTUCKY FRIED SPLATTER MOVIE.
Emily Hagins (MY SUCKY TEEN ROMANCE) opens the film with “Cold Open,” the charming story of Mike, last name Myers (Jon Michael Simpson), a horror film “employee” whose job is to cock it up for the protagonists, whether is be fixing a decrepit sign to point the wrong way or act as a shady realtor, underselling the truth about a haunted abode to his eager buyers. But Mike (never Michael) has dreams of being something more, something bigger, something grander. He wants… an arc. To be a real character, with a journey, and when he has to shut off the electricity on a couple of teen babysitters, then, by golly, he’s going to go against the grain and make himself a character. Even if the bloody results aren’t exactly what he expects.
SCARE PACKAGE is centered around Rad Chad’s Horror Emporium, a video store run by the eponymous Chad (Jeremy King), a gregarious chatterbox who’s training his new hire Hawn (Hawn Tran) over the objections of an intense frequent customer (Byron Brown) who spends his days at the emporium angling to get a job. Hawn is told to keep a constant supply of cassettes playing in a loop, and the strange, grody VHS era horror flicks that Hawn chooses make up the stories found within.
From slashers to werewolves to occult antics and slippery, slimy body horror straight out of STREET TRASH, Hagins and her fellow directors —Aaron B. Koontz, Baron Vaughn, Noah Segan, Anthony Cousins, Chris McInroy, and the team of Courtney and Hillary Andujar — comment, goof on and parody a slew of horror cliches. The humor is non-stop, and more often than not covered in blood and goo. And here’s the kicker: it’s often riotously funny as well, with more jokes landing than not. SCARE PACKAGE takes a very spaghetti-at-the-wall approach to the humor, and not all of it lands, and, in true anthology fashion, not every segment works as well as others — though many of the valleys here don’t ever dip as low as the valleys in other anthology features.
SCARE PACKAGE is a movie very much made for and by horror fans, with inside jokes flying left and right, creating a crazy patchwork of winking, gloppy horror comedy. Everyone involved looks like they are having fun, and that infectious energy shows throughout. With this giddy bit of absurdity, the filmmakers have given fans a — ahem — scare package for the ages.
SCARE PACKAGE premieres on Shudder on June 18th.
Tags: Aaron B. Koontz, Allan McLeod, Anthologies, Anthony Cousins, Baron Vaughn, Byron Brown, Candice Thompson, Chase Williamson, Chris McInroy, Courtney Andujar, Emily Hagins, Hawn Tran, Hillary & Courtney Andujar, Hillary Andujar, Horror Comedy, Jeremy King, Jon Michael Simpson, Noah Segan, Parody, Toni Trucks