Originally published at Fangoria.com on August 8, 2011
DRIVE-IN HORRORSHOW is an independent anthology (now out on DVD from Midnight Releasing) consisting of five twisted short films about torture, monsters and serial killers. Its mix of scares and humor grabs the audience and holds them while the tone switches from one segment to the next.
“Pig” maintains a brutal mood as it tells of a college frat boy enduring agonizing torment while trapped in a small, enclosed bathroom. “The Closet” focuses on a young boy who discovers a monster in the titular space. “Fall Apart” delivers a raw and disturbing body meltdown as a doctor develops symptoms of a terrible skin disease. “The Meat Man” is a clever tale about two young brothers who think they may be related to a serial murderer, and is the segment that stands out for this writer, telling its narrative from three different points of view as its central siblings argue over whether or not their relative is actually a mad butcher. In the last entry, “The Watcher,” a crazed hunter stalks a group of campers—including SURVIVOR winners Jenna Morasca and Ethan Zohn.
The DVD includes audio commentary by director/co-writer Michael Neel that reveals his great admiration for the horror genre and his extensive knowledge of photography. Neel explains the particular difficulties of making an anthology feature on a limited budget, which forced him and his team to deal with six times the casting issues, six times the prop changes, etc. He examines how the characters needed to appeal to an audience in a brief amount of time, while sufficient details had to be provided in order for viewers to comprehend the stories. While “The Closet” may be my least favorite in the collection, after listening to this track, I finally understood what Neel and producer/co-writer Greg Ansin were aiming for: This entry has a cartoony look and over-the-top style meant to suggest a perspective of childlike wonder—even though it didn’t work for this reviewer.
The bonuses also include music videos (the movie’s soundtrack consists of local underground Boston bands such as The Coffin Lids and Hotblack), deleted scenes and behind-the-scenes footage. Among the latter is detail about the makeup process undertaken by the special FX team—Rob Fitz (director of another Midnight title, GOD OF VAMPIRES), Nick Flanagan and Jeff O’Brien—with one segment focusing on the collaboration between the group and actor Larry Jay Tisch on the impressive body-horror sequence in “Fall Apart.”
Neel and Ansin demonstrate great imagination and creativity in DRIVE-IN HORRORSHOW, while the special features complement it by offering insight into a production made with neverending enthusiasm and appreciation for the gorier side.