Like all good anthologies, a wraparound story takes a stab at clumsy cohesion. Here, Arabian Nights-style, an abducted schoolgirl must tell her captor stories to stay alive. The best comes first with "Don't Answer the Door," in which a two young siblings awaiting Mom's arrival home find their apartment infiltrated by … wait and see. The scariest scenes reside here, as do jolts of genuine humor.
"Endless Flight" borrows a bit from 1997's Turbulence as aboard a plane, a flight attendant fights for her life against a serial killer being transported. A wicked fairy tale updated for our celeb-obsessed age, "Secret Recipe" pits stepsister against stepsister, and takes more than a big bite of inspiration from "Dumplings," the sickest of stories in Asia's 2004 terror triptych, Three … Extremes.
Finally, there's "Ambulance on the Dead Zone," which zombie fanatics will gobble up. The undead-overkilled among us, however, may wish for less-tired subject matter for an exit. Of course, it could be worse, and enough good exists in Horror Stories overall to merit a recommendation for pre-Halloween viewing.
The DVD marks my introduction to Artsploitation Films, a newish label devoted to spotlighting international genre gems. With its presentation of Horror Stories, the group earns my respect; not only is the movie impressive, but Artsploitation has included a booklet — once a DVD staple, now rarely seen outside Criterion — whose three articles combine to make an informative and visually pleasing mini-magazine.
A sequel — Horror Stories 2, duh — was released in the Far East over the summer. Here's hoping Artsploitation follows suit in importing that one. —Rod Lott
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