The form may be familiar, but the message is timeless. Writer/director Ryan Spindell’s The Mortuary Collection follows in the footsteps forged by classics such as Tales From the Crypt, Creepshow and The Vault of Horror, a self professed love letter to EC Comics offering up moral parables in a horror anthology package.
I’m going to be honest here… this is my ultimate brand of horrific goodness so there may be some bias based on that fact alone. I am one hundred percent the target audience for this. I was raised on the same fare as the filmmakers and I partook heavily. It speasks to me. “Romance, suspense, horror, social commentary… everything a story should be and more”. What I crave most is to be transported by cinema and more often than not, where I want to be transported to is a gloomy October day on the East Coast or Pacific Northwest where leaves change color and fog looms low. “Perpetually longing for Autumn” could have been my nickname in school, but that’s pretty fuckin’ long and not all that catchy.
From the opening frames, The Mortuary Collection is distinctly Autumnal. In reality I watched from a couch in Los Angeles on an August evening, with an afternoon high of a hellish 105 degrees and an early evening temperature still lingering in the mid 80’s. But as I watched from within the mouth of the devil’s very own furnace, I was instantly transported to a gloomy, cool October evening. Whimsically macabre is my jam and that is what this collection delivers.
Aesthetically the look weaves consistently throughout; artfully designed, intentional, lending itself to this Autumn fantasy world. The colors are gorgeous, the lighting is crafted. The soundtrack is amazing, the actors in each segment really sell it, the costumes are drool-worthy, the FX are one hell of a gorefest feast. These are the kind of FX that are fun to watch with a group because you collectively groan at the screen in a strange combination of horror, empathy and appreciation you can’t quite watch full on but can’t quite fully look away from. THE LOCATIONS! Kudos to location scouts/set design/set builders because the locations really helped build this world, making each story distinctly different while absolutely woven from the same cloth, in the same tone and clearly existing in the same world. The main story involving Sam (Caitlin Fisher) and “creepo” Montgomery Dark (Clancy Brown) linking the pieces together is a great one. There are no weak links here.
The vibe of this is perfect spooky Halloween fare. If you grew up with the likes of Are You Afraid of the Dark, The Halloween Tree and the animated Tales From The Crypt Keeper, this feels like a grownup version, tonally speaking. Take the vibe of those childhood classics, up the scares, add gushy gore.
This ambitious anthology may be touted as “a love letter to EC Comics on an indie budget” but more often than not, it certainly did not feel like an indie budget. It never felt lacking. Original cautionary tales and the occasional self aware meta commentary, delivered in a delightfully polished package ready to transport you from your couch to a gloomy Fall day at Raven’s End Mortuary. Grab some candy corn, pop some popcorn and prepare to party like it’s the end of October.
The Mortuary Collection is available to screen on demand during the run of Fantasia Film Festival, August 20th – September 2nd get your ticket here
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