Necrologies is available on Blu-ray from SRS Cinema and digitally on Vimeo. Screen images in this review are captured from online streaming sources and not representative of the Blu-ray image quality
Created by a handful of different directors working together, the horror anthology Necrologies is a gleefully macabre film that hasn’t gotten a whole lot of attention.
Most anthologies struggle with consistency. While Necrologies certainly mixes tones and ideas (from mournful to hilarious), none of them come off as boring or bad. All are pretty interesting, and even if you don’t like them all, they’ve each got a hook or two and are relatively short so it’s not long before you’re whisked away on another tale.
If you’re familiar with distributor SRS and their output, you might know them as purveyors of ultra low budget SOV and DIY fare, which is their primary area of expertise. Necrologies isn’t one of these, but rather a really well-made film with high production values.
Compared to Nightmare Cinema, another recent and similarly constructed anthology with far more famous names attached, I would have to say Necrologies is handily the better overall film. That’s not to badmouth Nightmare Cinema, which is fine, but to provide a comparative analysis that might be familiar. This one’s worth checking out — here’s thoughts on the individual segments.
In the wraparound tale, a dorky horror blogger breaks into a gated cemetery for some spooky fun, but instead gets caught by the watchman (Jean-Claude Dreyfus), who takes him back to his shed in order to call the cops. But homing in on his trespasser’s fascination with the macabre, the cryptkeeper can’t help but regale his uninvited guest with tales of the bizarre and horrific deaths of some of the occupants of his graveyard.
This is a rare film where the wraparound is as entertaining as the segments. Jean-Claude Dreyfus is an incredible presence with his crazed, bug-eyed appearance and exuding a ghoulish mania as he tells his weird — and according to him, true — stories.
Appel Mortel / The Call of Death
Similar to When A Stranger Calls or the opening of Scream, a woman gets a series of increasingly frightening and harassing phone calls. With moody colored lighting, this one has a gialloesque old-school feel while being set sometime in the 21st Century (the character owns DVDs and uses a cellular flip phone).
There’s a good chance you’ll see the twist coming, but it’s nevertheless a worthwhile watch.
La Bête / The Beast
Glimpsing an injured figure disappear into the woods along the road, a driver pulls over to help — only to find he’s stumbled into an insane situation in which it’s impossible to know who to trust: the injured werewolf woman, or the small band of armed men hunting her. Both effective and effecting, it’s one of the film’s best segments and certainly the most dramatic, with sequences of rapt suspense.
Le Retour des Hommes-Lézards / Return of the Lizardmen
A rather goofy and comedic found-footage short. You’ve heard of the concept of lizard people or reptilian aliens who secretly run the world. In this segment, an amateur documentary filmmaker infiltrates a cult of “Duckmen” meeting in a crypt — essentially nerdy cosplayers — who claim to be the ancient order secretly protecting the world from the lizard people. But then things go sideways…
Une affaire d’enfer / A Hell of a Bargain
Tired of asking a resistant resident to sell her home, a representative of a greedy real estate developer tries to hardball her into signing their contract, accidentally killing her with his tough guy tactics.
Unfortunately for him, her pet demon Pozu (sounds a little like Pazuzu, yeah?) is none too happy at this injustice, and is ready to exact revenge.
This was definitely my favorite of the bunch. It’s violent, funny, dementedly moral (in that particular EC Comics sense), and has fun creature effects. Pozu is a practical puppet, reminiscent of like classic 80s fare like Ghoulies, and scream queen Linnea Quigley pops in for a supporting role.
L’oeil de Taal / The Eye of Taal
A woman plagued with murderous visions of a mysterious ghoul — the “Angel of Taal” — commits her detailed dreams to drawings, trying to convince her psychiatrist of their veracity as insights into actual murders that have taken place.
The Angel of Taal is similar to, and representative of, fictional urban legends like the Slender Man or Candyman.
In some ways it’s the most stylized segment, as the nightmarish visions take place in a surreal black and white fashion, starkly contrasting the clean, colorful, and brightly lit environs of the psychiatrist’s office. It’s also perhaps the only segment that’s actually rather spooky (the other segments tend to be more thrilling and fun than “scary”).
Overall, this is a really solid watch. The wraparound and best segments are great, but even the lesser ones aren’t bad. I personally found Call of Death and Return of the Lizardmen to be the most middling entries, but even so they are still quite entertaining, bringing some unique ideas and stylistic choices to the table, and are short enough to not outlast their welcome. Most of the segments end with a twist or surprise, keeping things zippy and rewarding. Definitely recommended for horror fans!
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