The Merits of Sin: Terrorgram (1990) (USA)

Tales of terror can be delivered by many a weirdo. Crypt keepers, tarot reading doctors, children buying time before being cooked, even kindly old antique dealers have dealt out nightmare scenarios to various jerks and guilt ridden ass-bags for longer than most of us have been on this earth. But Terrorgram decided to make our deliverer of frights a delivery boy. It makes sense, in an incredibly brain dead kind of way. I can’t really think of anything less frightening than a young man in a dumb uniform and shorts serving as your guide to a world of horrors. But what the fuck do I know? I’m not from Long Beach and I’ve never been an awful enough person to get some EC style comeuppance.

At least I hope not

James Earl Jones…wait. What the fuck? *checks notes* Yep. James Earl Jones lends his gravitas via narration to open up the film proper. Mail themed warnings and an endless stream of bloviated nonsense lull you into a baritone nap and you already begin to question your sanity. “Here is where evil is stamped and posted. Fate is wrapped and sealed.” Oh yeah. That’s the stuff. A trilogy of nightmares awaits…

A young James Earl Jones… probably

Heroine Overdose is our first terrifying package delivered right on time. An insecure and misogynistic director (which pretty much goes hand in hand) name Alan Smythee is filming a horror flick called Driller. A gimp suited psychopath with a power drill is brought to his knees when the starlet ad libs and gives him a swift kick in the balls. Alan freaks the fuck out. He doesn’t want any tough chicks with brains in his movie. He wants meat with breasts. They decide to call it and Alan goes to his office to shoot up some heroin. Our delivery boy makes his appearance and gives Smythee a box containing his old scripts. Justifiably confused, Alan heads on home. Things get weirder as his journey progresses. Everyone he comes across is some gender swapped version of characters in his film. Super horny garage mechanics talk about his johnson, two randy big gals give him a ride and eventually he runs into an all female biker gang who have their boys ride bitch. Alan is convinced he’s dreaming but when a female version of his leather clad killer pops up he realizes his life is in danger. It’s a whole lot of fun turning the testosterone fueled film market on its own authors but it’s so damn goofy it never feels preachy. The drill carrying gimp with his constant playful screaming and superhuman pain threshold is a bad ass boogeyman/woman that I wish showed up more often.

Getting Smythee with it

Next up, Pandora is signed, sealed and delivered. A young boy playing with a jack-in-the-box on the side of the road at night is run down by a car because what the fuck was he doing. The driver of that car is a newscaster named Angela and follows the golden rule of reporting: never become the story. She manages to use the tragedy to climb the corporate ladder but there is obviously going to be a price. Said price is a late night visit by the vengeance hungry ghost kid. There’s some cool rubber monster work (not anything jaw dropping but cheaply charming) but this one was pretty forgettable.

Dead kid blues

Our final delivery, Veterans Day, fares better than Pandora but lacks the madcap fun of Heroine Overdose. A real piece of shit wakes up to find his family missing. Turns out his abusive fathering and spousal technique has finally come to bite him on the ass. He doesn’t really give a shit about his wife and kids, but he definitely doesn’t want her coming for his savings. That will be of little concern in the very near future. The spooky delivery boy shows up with an old journal. Turns out not only is Eric Keller (the abusive shit head) an awful family man, he was a prick long before that. He managed to avoid the draft, which is fine, but he also ratted out a fellow classmate and got him put into the shit, which is so not cool. The journal in his possession belongs to said student he fucked over royally. This poor guy died in the Nam and he blamed Eric for everything. His zombie/spirit shows up to guide Eric into his own personal experience of what it was like to die in those foreign jungles. Probably the closest to an EC style just desserts, Veterans Day works just fine. The acting is overblown and there’s a lovely backyard epic feel to the whole ordeal.

VD

Anthologies are usually a pretty good time. Various horrors combine to keep things fresh and if ya come across a bad time it hopefully doesn’t last too long. Terrorgram plays out like a particularly good episode of Tales From the Darkside got its fuck on with a boring episode of Night Gallery and had triplets…and that’s just fine viewing in my eyes. 7/10


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