The Merits of Sin: Shivers Down Your Spine (2015) (USA) ****

A microwaveable pizza transforms into a lantern whilst being nuked (No. I’m not having a stroke. Watch the damn movie!), the poor schlub waiting on his personal treat rubs the lantern and out pops a sexy topless genie. His first wish is to have her cover up (Justin ain’t no creep!), realizing he may not be the brightest bulb, she gives him that one as a freebie and explains the rules. His next wish is to have her make him another pizza, with that done, he asks for a bunch of scary stories. The meat of our film is spread over nine tales and in between we get more banter from the two lovable leads.

The hero we deserve

Deadbolt ***

A young girl, home alone on Halloween night, has her popcorn and horror film evening pestered by a malevolent force with a penchant for ringing doorbells. Good way to start the batch of tales off, it gets with the spooky right quick and doesn’t really waste any time.

Same

Convention Girl ***

A hookup at a horror convention ends in death for a poor girl and two friends have to figure out what course of action to take. One man’s claim of a vampire attack is not easily swallowed by his buddy but the removal of a wooden stake may change things. Predictable? Sure. Hilarious? Oh hell yeah! Damn fine banter.

Same

Birthday Dinner ****

An emotionally tense married couple argue over the father’s punishment of the young girl on her birthday. Dad’s trying to curb her bratty behavior but mom feels he’s being far too harsh. A little hope after their conversation reveals something far more twisted than stern parenting. It’s not much more than a conversation punctuated by a lovely sting but it’s so well acted and darkly humorous it is hard not to love.

Daniel Day OhYes

Whispering Board ***

Three sorority girls attempt to contact a murdered boyfriend through a spirit board and some fatal secrets come out between friends.

Eat shit, Wishmaster

I Dream of Djinni ***1/2

Our favorite genie tells the weirdest personal experience she’s had in her many years on this rock. It involves a broke schmuck wishing for money, an ideal woman and the ever important final wish. Of course, every wish has a catch and phrasing is very important. I haven’t laughed this hard at oral in a very long time.

Punchline

Shortly After Nightfall *****

Film noir presented story finds a gumshoe pickup a dame wandering on the road one rainy night. She just wants to go home but he can only take her as far as a nearby motel. He offers to put her up for the night with no ulterior motives, she vanishes from the car when he grabs the shotgun and bag he needs from the trunk. The man has a job to do and that job adds a nice twist to the whole damn thing. This is just excellent.

Joy in Noir

A Bad Heart **

Two years after surviving an attack from her psychotic boyfriend (she was the latest target by a holiday obsessed serial killer), a young woman goes out on a Valentine’s Day blind date. They bond over the big ass scars they have (he had heart surgery) and love seems to be blossoming. She opens up about her past and reveals her psycho ex died in the hospital and it turns out he was an organ donor….Weakest entry which is made all the more hilarious by our lovely storyteller and delightful listener calling it out for being so.

Last Breath **1/2

Depressed Beth has an awful best friend who’s phone calls seem to leave the poor young girl suicidal but things ain’t exactly what they seem and mental illness can be one hell of a monster.

Now with accurate tracking issues!

A Christmas Horror Story ***

80s themed main event has a psychotic killer dressed as Santa knocking off youngsters working at a movie theater overnight, decorating for the annual Christmas party. The cranky boss leaves them to their own devices and the various 80s fashion poster children get it one by one. As usual with this film, there’s just a bit more going on than your standard stalk and slash.

Fashion Forward

Everything wraps up nicely as the genie and the incredibly likable dude, who have been talking and drinking together the whole time, finally come to that pesky last wish. Genuine laughs, likable leads (Megan Shepherd stealing the spot of my favorite film genie from Andrew Divoff) and more hits than misses make for one hell of a fun anthology. There’s still some low-bar humor and so-so acting (honestly, if you’re looking for Daniel Day Lewis at this budget you’re the one with the problem) but it’s really not that distracting. The fact that I didn’t notice it ran past two hours says a hell of a lot.


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