“The world is not made up of atoms; it is made up of stories.” Thus begins a brand new horror anthology to fall in our lap because… who doesn’t like a satisfying collection of well-developed tales? Add the always-excellent Clancy Brown as your cryptkeeper and you’ve got a fantastic recipe for success. Ryan Spindell brought his first feature film to Fantasia’s International Film Festival as “The Mortuary Collection” made its Quebec premiere.
As the owner of Raven’s End Mortuary, Montgomery Dark (Clancy Brown; “Starship Troopers”, “The Shawshank Redemption” and “Pet Sematary II”) greets a young woman into his morgue who wishes to get a job. He welcomes her and attempts to set the table by recounting tales of his former “clients”; how they passed away, but especially, why. A short tale of a woman who steals wallets during a party and gets what she deserves. A college boy, trying to get around to every girl he can, sleeps with the newest girl on campus, ignores her demands to wear a condom and gets the surprise of his life. When a husband decides to put his very sick and barely conscious wife out of her misery, he must now find a way to get rid of the body. What he didn’t know was that his emotional suffering was nothing compared to what awaits him now. Finally, a babysitter is terrorized when a nearby asylum sees a psychopathic child killer escape, only to come knocking at her door in a Michael Myers-esque homage with a twist.All of these tales tied with a beautifully grim bow in the name of Montgomery Dark.
After a bundle of short horror films, writer-director Ryan Spindell gives it a shot to the motion picture aspect of cinematography and does a respectable job. Granted, a horror anthology is sort of a compilation of horror shorts, so it is a little of an intelligent transition into the feature film business. Spindell succeeds in throwing us into a very old-school horror atmosphere with the correct soundtrack and lugubrious lighting in the story-telling portions. The length of each tale differs from one to the other, and while some give off more of a campy horror vibe, making you laugh as explosive gore bursts onscreen, others may feelmore emotional and evoke moral questioning.
The visuals involved in each tale are quite impressive, stemming from a collaboration of talented make-up artists, as well as their visual effects and special effects coordinators. Some appealing make-up, gooey and in-your-face practical effects, with just a hint of well-timed CGI will definitely keep your eyes entertained throughout.
Clancy Brown as the cryptkeeper is, simply put, perfect. His look and presence give off a Julian Beck aura as Reverend Kane from Poltergeist II. His ultra-deep voice only adds to his creepiness. From the very first scene we see him in, scaring off a young boy, he’s eerie enough, yet grows on us as the tales go on. I must say that I have a childhood trauma involving Mr. Brown when I saw a televised presentation of “Pet Sematary II”. His performance in that film creeped me out for years and still does to this day. Every other actor in each segment is genuine and perfectly casted for their role, the result of great casting by Megan Lask and Tiffany Tynes.
All in all, “The Mortuary Collection” is a great addition to the world of horror anthologies, with a feel-good throwback to campy, fun horror. With a clever ending, riddled with numerous twists of fate, it should satisfy that craving you’ve felt for a good horror anthology ever since you saw the disappointing “Tales from the Hood 2”. Ryan Spindell’s first feature film deserves a solid 8/10 rating.
Article written by SIMON ROTHER