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The Strange Things Boutique




DVD. Chemical Burn.

Scarlet Fry's Junkfood HorrorfestCaution: the following review features mild spoilers.

The anthology horror film seems to be undergoing a bit of a revival right now, so the re-release of this zero budget movie probably makes some sort of sense. However, Scarlet Fry’s Junkfood Horrorfest turns out to be mostly ineffectual.

Much of the problem is the lack of story to the six horror tales crammed into just over an hour. The classic structure for any portmanteau horror film is to feature stories with a twist in the tail – often dark morality tales where bad tings happen to bad people. No so here. Not only is there zero character development in most stories, there’s also zero plot – instead, it feels almost like we’re watching individual scenes from assorted no budget horror films.

Opening up with a junkie (Calico Cooper, Alice’s daughter and top-billed here) beating a dealer to death after he hands her a VHS tape instead of drugs. The rest of the film is the movie that was on that tape, making this intro a rather pointless effort – especially as the ‘tape’ has its own Master of Ceremonies, Scarlet Fry – who turns out to be a male redneck demon out in the woods who makes bad jokes and keeps girls captive while introducing the stories.

Things open up with Bloodthirsty Butcher, which make the Andy Milligan film of (almost) the same name look polished. A hungry fat guy chats up a new neighbour, then strangles her, chops of her arm and chews of the very fake looking limb. And that’s it: no punishment, no retribution, no characters, no story – nothing. The assumption seems to be that horror fans will be happy to sit through anything if it has some unconvincing gore, which is pretty insulting.

The next story, The Solution, is shot in black and white and could almost be an atmospheric underground movie if it existed as a stand-alone piece, with an off-key music score and weird visuals. But it throws it away with a stupid ending, and within the context of this film, it’s rather pointless.

Scarlet Fry's Junkfood HorrorfestThings take a turn for the worse in the next segment. Griptape Spank has more of a narrative to it, but it’s a thoroughly revolting one. Three stoner skaters earn extra cash by spanking a pathetically clichéd gay man (who would’ve been rejected by 70s sitcom producers as an offensive stereotype), and then mock the guy who fixed up the encounter with a barrage of homophobic crap – as does his girlfriend. Eventually, he snaps, and goes back to beat the gay man to death and then then murders his girlfriend. Art which point, having proved his manhood, he can finally sleep peacefully.

Seriously – what the fuck? If this is supposed to be a critique of homophobia and what it can do to people - and I really hope that it is - it’s pretty clumsily done. Because otherwise, the story would seem to be suggesting that (a) gay men deserve to die and (b) being called a ‘faggot’ is justification for murder.

Quite honestly, I was inclined to stop viewing at this point. But I carried on through Wasted Life, which follows a man as he commits suicide in a bathtub. Again, no back story and no character development – but at least there is a satisfactory bleakness here, though the sudden heavy metal soundtrack intrusion derails it considerably.

The Devil Made Me Do It sees an oafish Satanist killed by his girlfriend and then returning to life to disembowel her – it goes nowhere. Closer Love is Blind turns out to be the best story here – badly acted and basic, it at least has some sort of structure to it, and if the victim is hardly a deserving case – being a bit of a dick on first finding out your girlfriend s pregnant doesn’t seem to be a crime worthy of torture and murder – then at least there is an effort to give it a storyline, however crude. And it’s impressively nasty – at least compared to the rest of the film, which doesn’t really deliver on the lashings of gore suggested by the sleeve.

Much as I want to support indie horror (because every film like this is something of a labour of love), I found this a real struggle – and the third story left such a nasty taste in my mouth that it was hard to find anything positive to say about the rest.

The DVD also contains a 1994 Scarlet Fry short effort Horrorama, that is more of the same, but less technically polished, and a presentation of Carnival of Souls, complete with horror hosts – there are better versions of this seminal movie available, so that isn’t exactly a selling point.





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