Twisted Tales (1996)

Rating:

USA. 1996.

Crew

Production Company – Brimstone Productions Nothing But the Truth:

Crew

Director/Screenplay – Rita Klus, Story – Mick McCleery, Photography – Gary, Mick & Kevin, Music – Tim Molzer.

Cast

Freddie Ganno (Joey), Olga Jimenez (Susan), Jim Resnick (Mike), Gary Putz (Randy), Shea Ramando (Phil)

The Shooting:

Crew

Director/Screenplay/Photography – Mick McCleery, Music – Sean Townsend.

Cast

Brett Heniss (Tommy Witten), John Collins (Robert Witten), Monica Baxanavis (Louisa), John Innocenzo (Emmet Axelrod)

Hungry Like a … Bat :

Crew

Director/Screenplay/Photography (some scenes b&w) – Kevin J. Lindenmuth, Music – Mike O’Brien, Special Effects – Brimstone Productions.

Cast

Mick McCleery (Charlie), Laura McLauchlin (Allison), Theresa Oliva (Dr Goodman), Anija Bareikis (Tracey), Joe Mauceri (Jack), Rick Poli (Second Doctor)


Plot

Nothing But the Truth:- Joey is prone to exaggeration of the truth. When he is beaten up by a hood in the street, he exaggerates the numbers, only to be attacked again, the same way that he told it. The Shooting:- Tommy Witten flees from a shooting but is then guided by a mysterious man who taunts him and urges him to kill again. Hungry Like a … Bat:- Charlie begs a psychologist for help, explaining that he was bitten by both a werewolf and a vampire on the same night. Now a combination of both creatures, he has difficulty being accepted into either community.


Twisted Tales is a horror anthology from Brimstone Productions. Brimstone is headed by Kevin J. Lindenmuth who has made the likes of Vampires and Other Stereotypes (1994), Addicted to Murder (1995) and Addicted to Murder: Tainted Blood (1998). Lindenmuth also independently distributes and sells his own product and that of other low-budget genre filmmakers. The greater bulk of Brimstone’s productions are horror anthologies, such as this, The Alien Agenda series (see The Alien Agenda: Out of the Darkness [1996]) and the Creaturealm series (see Creaturealm: Demons Wake [1998]) and singletons like Blood of the Werewolf (2001) and Monstersdotcom (2003), in which Lindemuth invites other filmmakers to contribute short pieces under a loose common umbrella theme. Twisted Tales was the first of Brimstone’s anthologies. Kevin J. Lindenmuth directs one episode, with other contributions from his frequent actor and sometimes director Mick McCleery and Rita Klus, who had worked as sound person on Stereotypes. The result is a an impressively worthwhile little film.

Especially good is Rita Klus’s Nothing But the Truth, which opens the film. Klus creates a uniquely offbeat story about a habitual liar’s tall tales – his exaggerations of the number of people beating him up – that suddenly start coming true. Klus generates an extremely weird atmosphere. The episode never deigns to explain why this is happening – it just is, hovering in an eerie twilight zone. Freddie Ganno is surprisingly likable as the put-upon liar of the show. The just-when-you-thought-the-hero-had-willed-it-away twist ending is great.

The second episode, Mick McCleery’s The Shooting, works well too. You are not sure where McCleery is going with it. It seems like an interior monologue piece and you are not sure even if the episode is going in any direction, but then McCleery pulls all the strands together in a dazzling twist ending. It is a surprise that has been used several times in films in recent years, but is no less effective for being used here (which in fact prefigures these others). To say any more would be to give the surprise away.

Kevin J. Lindenmuth delivers the third segment, Hungry … Like a Bat, which is the slightest of the three. Its’ proliferation of supernatural menaces – the protagonist being bitten by both a werewolf and a vampire then encountering a demon – is gimmicky. There is some cute amusement to some of the ideas – the poor hero being rejected by support groups for either creature or trying to end his life by eating garlic pizza. Given a feature length and a better budget this could have been the cute basis for a comedy. Unfortunately, the piece wavers between being a comedy and Lindenmuth playing it as one of the tight, intensive character studies in non-human psychology that he does well. Certainly these scenes – one with Mick McCleery trying to stop a woman (Anija Bareikis) coming onto him as he is about to change, and another with Laura McLauchlin as the neighbour who develops an interest in him – are well done and contain fine performances from the two respective actresses. It is just that they feel like they belong in another film, not a comedy. The cut-price monster effects are amusingly downplayed with an end credit ‘Not So Special Effects by Brimstone Productions’. The final scene in the film is a striking coda that suddenly makes you doubt whether you were right in your assumptions about the ending of The Shooting.



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