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DVD Review: The Horror Vault 3

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The Horror Vault 3 is an anthology of five horror stories: “A Christmas Haunting,” “Zombie Office,” “Undone,” “Unchangeable,” and “The Psychomanteum.” Since I knew I’d be watching it alone, I chose a sunny Saturday afternoon, surrounded by my bodyguards (dog and four cats). I hadn’t considered that the afternoon I chose was the dreaded Saturday the 14th. Nevertheless, I swore to remember my mantra, “It’s only a movie, It’s only a movie.”

Well, it’s true. The Horror Vault 3 is only a movie. A very, very bad movie. Friends, you know I love bad movies, but The Horror Vault 3 is a different kind of bad. Oh…it does have some inferior sound recording and terrible acting, I’ll give it that. And the camera work doesn’t quite make it to the level of average. We know those are good things in bad movies, but The Horror Vault 3 is one of those culty violence-for-the-sake-of-violence movies in which bad things happen. (If you didn’t notice, that was a period at the end of the sentence, as in “…movies in which bad things happen PERIOD).

Imagine watching Psycho or Memento up until the final fifteen minutes, and then the movie ends. That is the Horror Vault 3 experience, except that it’s not well made. The stories have no resolution; some are not even stories, but set-ups for stories that never happen. If this sounds vague or confusing, it’s because I’m trying to avoid plot-spoilers (I was let off with a warning the last time I revealed too much).

Try this: imagine (again) that I make a movie called The Horrible Things that Happened at Bob & FCE’s House.”  The camera draws you into an idyllic little love nest where you see Bob and FCE sitting at the table. Bob asks FCE what he would like for breakfast. There’s a knock at the door. A person in a Good Humor Man costume enters (it’s important that he’s wearing all white). He or she goes into the kitchen, rummages through a drawer while being totally ignored by Bob and FCE, then pulls out a meat cleaver and hacks them to pieces. The end.

While you may be thinking, “What an appropriate ending for two hack writers,” you might also wonder “What the hell was that all about? Was that just violence and gore for the sake of violence and gore?”  That’s what I wondered after watching The Horror Vault 3 (the second thought, not the first, although…). I know that there are people who are big fans of this stuff; I actually had the pleasure of appearing in a movie with an actor who was also the director of this very kind of bloody entertainment. I still don’t get it.

“A Christmas Haunting” tells the story of a man separated from his wife and family who stays alone in a cabin on Christmas. (He’s not such a bad actor, but the person he calls on the phone is. This entry in the anthology is distinguished by having both the best and worst actors in the entire film.) The cabin is haunted—sort-of—by three topless women who apparently were slashed and then left out in the snow to die by a cult leader who had butchered his entire cult. Its highlight is some really awful CGI.

A fellow goes to work one day and finds his work place has been turned into “Zombie Office.” This short makes Office of the Dead look like the Citizen Kane of zombie flicks. There’s a new boss; she seems to be a dominatrix in a shiny black vinyl minidress and thigh-high boots. Her wide tie is a nice afterthought. The boss tells the fellow that she has turned everyone into zombies chained to their desks (typical office atmosphere), and her goal is to turn this guy into one as well. This is the humor piece in the anthology, although I didn’t find it particularly amusing. One question: since she’s not a zombie herself, how did she turn the staff into a building full of the undead? I guess she hired a voodoo consultant  to handle that detail.

“Undone” shows us a man getting revenge on the pedophile/serial-killer that murdered his daughter. He tortures the man in some pretty disgusting, gore-producing fashions and the story ends. This is not a plot spoiler, this segment didn’t have a plot. What it did have was one of the highest ratings ever recorded on the icky-ness scale.

Apparently aiming at something David-Lynchesque, “Unchangeable” introduces a man whose wife may or may not have been murdered, who may or may not have murdered a homeless man. What is reality? What isn’t? What am I doing watching this film?

Finally, there’s the black and white “The Psychomanteum,” an experimental piece that fails (bringing back memories of my Experimental Psych class). A young woman appears to be insane. (She’s so bad at it, I actually fell asleep and had to rewatch it. Having done that, my bad karma has been worked out.) In case you’re interested, “psychomanteum” is not a made-up word.

The only bonus feature on the DVD is the trailer. If it’s true that moviemakers put only the best footage on their trailers, I don’t think many people will watch The Horror Vault 3. Neither I nor my five bodyguards managed to stay away throughout the film’s 103 minutes; my best advice is “skip the movie and go right to bed.”

Bottom Line: Would I buy/rent/stream The Horror Vault 3? No!/No!/No!

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