Directed by Tom Holland
Distributed by Image Entertainment
Tom Holland’s Twisted Tales is an anthology film complied from a series of shorts produced for FEARnet. Many beloved horror actors appear in the series, which spans a total of nine episodes. To sum Tom Holland’s Twisted Tales up in three words…feast or famine.
Set up like Creepshow or “Tales from the Crypt”, Tom Holland’s Twisted Tales is indeed that, a collection of dark stories, each presented by Holland, who also directed all nine segments of the anthology. And some of them are very entertaining, especially the first few pieces of the collection. Unfortunately, as the movie rolls on, the stories start to lose the creativity and strength of the earlier entries and the whole thing feels like it’s just running for way too long.
Holland does manage to parade some pretty impressive talent out for some of the segments, and that helps quite a bit. In the first few titles you’ll see AJ Bowen, Danielle Harris, William Forsythe, Sarah Butler and Noah Hathaway. And this is all before we get to the best segment in the film, Shockwave. But we’ll take a quick look at all of the twisted tales to let you know what you’re in for.
The anthology opens with a fun little number entitled Fred and His GPS. It’s a short, but entertaining piece starring AJ Bowen and a particularly bothersome GPS system. Through an unfortunate series of events, Fred has murdered his wife and has only this gadget to hear his confession. As with many of Tom Holland’s Twisted Tales, the wicked get their comeuppance and this one is no different. Short and sweet.
The second entry is entitled To Hell With You and features both Danielle Harris and William Forsythe in a sell your soul to get revenge scenario. Forsythe and Harris playing off each other provides for some of the most enjoyable moments of the entire anthology. A nice twist ending on this one also makes it one of the best parts of the collection.
We roll on to another well-crafted segment entitled Boom about two retired bomb disposal experts. When love, lust and revenge get mixed together, boom is certainly one possible outcome. It’s a cross and double-cross story starring the beautiful Sarah Butler and Noah Hathaway. A slickly constructed prop bomb is the centerpiece prop in this story of betrayal and vengeance.
At this point, things are going okay.
However, now things tail off for a while. Although the next story, entitled Mongo’s Magic Mirror features a nice performance by Ray Wise, the woeful digital F/X really do a number on the quality of the short and basically nullify Wise’s performance. Additionally, real life magician Joel Ward provides some cool sleight of hand magic, but his acting is anything but magical. His overacting also took its toll on Mondo’s Magic Mirror.
Bite is the next segment. It’s a story about a designer drug that is turning users into werewolves. This entire thing is just kind of ridiculous. The acting is meh at best, the F/X are seriously limited. And the notion that a designer drug turning users into werewolves could start an immediate apocalypse on the city is just silly. Not good.
Fortunately, Bite is followed by the best segment of the whole film. Shockwave is the story of a group of dinner party attendees who suddenly find themselves facing the end of the world. And when only two people can fit in a safe room to ride out the disaster and there are five people wanting to get in there, bad things happen. In a May reunion, Angela Bettis and James Duval star in this piece. Simply put, Bettis’ performance is nearly worth the price of admission on its own. She is amazing as usual and carries Shockwave, which is hands down in Tom Holland’s Twisted Tales.
Shockwave is followed by Cached. This is the story of a haunted tablet. Anyone who picks up this gadget is doomed to deal with a Beetlejuice-like character named Danny Doyle, The Tablet Man. Adam Rose is entertaining as Doyle and Jose Pablo Cantillo (who played Martinez in “The Walking Dead”) also plays a good part. Overall, this short is moderately amusing. Nothing special.
Next was the real anchor of the project, The Pizza Guy. Aside from a decent performance by Erin Aine Smith, there is nothing salvageable about this segment. The story revolves around a pizza guy who may or may not be a demon summoned through incantations read out of a grimoire. The pizza guy in question is played by Marc Senter. For some reason, Senter decided to play the role in a Jeff Spicoli-esque fashion…and it’s not good. And when you have something that is this irritating the best thing you can do is keep it short. And that doesn’t happen either. The Pizza Guy segment is long. At least it seems long. It’s one of those films that you find yourself watching and saying, “Please…just end.” And when the end finally, mercifully, comes, there is no payoff. Just some weak special F/X and a clunker of an finish.
The final segment is entitled Vampire’s Dance and is just that. It’s a simple short about the turning of a vampire in a dance club with our host, Tom Holland, strangely interjecting himself into the segment through some type of unexplained magic mirror. Nothing really outstanding about this one, except as a viewer you’re just happy to be out of The Pizza Guy segment.
The special features are decent, with a look behind the scenes of five of the shorts, including Shockwave which as stated above, is the saving grace of the entire anthology.
Unfortunately, as a whole, Tom Holland’s Twisted Tales is a disappointment. Although Bettis’ performance in Shockwave was great (as always) and there were some entertaining moments with the likes of Harris, Forsythe, Butler and Hathaway, the low points are very low and the bad special F/X cheapen the entire experience. Even Holland’s hosting segments were extremely dry and without much enthusiasm at all. We love you, but you’ve gotta sell it, Tom! With a run time well over two hours, Holland would have been much better off condensing this project and just using his strongest material. Cutting this down to 90 minutes would have been an excellent example of addition by subtraction.
1 1/2 out of 5
2 out of 5