Clocking in at 75 minutes and originally released in 2010, Tales of the Dead: Grim Stories of Curses, Horror and Gore is a low-budget shocker produced by Chemical Burn Entertainment and masterminded by Kemal Yildirim, who in 2012 won the ‘Van Gogh award for cinematic vision at the Amsterdam film festival for his film Rose.
The structure of this movie hearkens to the old Tales of the Crypt format. The conceit has five friends gathering on Halloween night to share bizarre DVDs. The bulk of the movie then centers on these short films, with spots breaking them up also adding to the narrative of the friends being stalked by a mysterious killer.
The stories cover the gamut of horror films, from the found-footage genre (“Missing”) that deals with paranormal investigators who inadvertently unleash a curse to Italy’s giallo genre (“Penance”) that taps into the hardboiled detective genre to tell its tale of a serial killer who menaces the detective (hints of Clint Eastwood’s Tightrope). As an anthology film, Tales of the Dead: Grim Stories of Curses, Horror and Gore works okay, although the acting is often forced and the storytelling is choppy and unfocused.
The principal problem with this anthology movie is the writing. Yildirim has some interesting tales to tell, with the short “Less is More” a standout. This short deals with a mental disorder, known as Body Integrity Identity Disorder, that drives a woman to seek out hideous surgery to remove what she believes are extraneous limbs. The doctor she finds, however, believes she has more extraneous limbs that even she claims to have. Bloody and psychologically effective, this story is a gem in this anthology.
The other stories pay homage to other genres of horror, but the choppy, incomplete nature of each of these tales will leave viewers more frustrated than scared. Yildirim sets up some solid openings, but he wavers in completing each tale. Moreover, the actors in each of these stories are self-conscious, sometimes even grinning at what is going on about them.
I cannot recommend Tales of the Dead: Grim Stories of Curses, Horror and Gore, although fans of low-budget weird horror may get a kick out of it. This film is part of a collection titled Freakshow Cinema: 12 Horror Films.