Review: VAMPUS HORROR TALES, Spanish Horror Anthology Pays Tribute to The Past With Tales of Love And Tragedy
Mr. Fettes is the sinister and macabre grave digger, guardian of many creepy secrets. He buries the dead by day and unearths them at night for unspeakable purposes. He likes to be called Vampus and enjoys reading horror comics, especially necrophilia love stories. Vampus introduces us to four of his favourite stories.
The particular take here is that all of these segments were directed by four filmmakers still waiting to make their feature film debut: Manuel M Velasco (La boda), Isaac Berrocal (La segunda cita), Erika Elizalde (Cumpleaños) and Piter Moreira (Linaje). Víctor Matellano is the only seasoned feature film director on the directing team and served as the movie’s creative producer apart from directing the Vampus wrap around segment. In fact, Saturnino García is reprising the role of Vampus which he played for Matellano in his 2018 short film Llámame Vampus.
That doesn’t say that any director is working with a disadvantage here. Choosing directors who have only worked with the short film format ensures that everyone knows how to deliver the story they need to in the time they’re allotted. Every director is on board, delivering segments that would easily interchange with each other without disrupting the esthetic and production design.
There is an upside and a downside to this. On the one hand an all too common hangup with anthologies is that they’re not always consistent in quality or value, especially if all you are doing is hoarding previously made short films, packaging them and reselling them for profit. Even at the best of times, under scrutiny from producers, the odd ducks sneak into and taint the mix and create just as mixed results. By agreeing to stick to a certain format, to replicate and pay tribute to a classic style
The downside to that is that this homogeneity in the delivery doesn’t give us any idea on what each director’s strengths or specialties are. While it makes for a very fun anthology that never waivers from its form and style it may not be a calling card for any of these four directors involved.
Vampus Horror Tales took its cues from films produced by British studio Amicus Productions in the 60s and 70s, and popular anthology series like Creepshow and Tales From the Crypt. With a little ‘digging’ (chortle) we found out that Vampus Horror Tales was intentionally shot in black and white, and in CinemaScope format, as a nod to the popular fantasy classics that it pays tribute to.
The result is a collection of horror tales that chill to the bones. There are sensible displays of gore of horror that will not scare away the timid viewer. Devoid of any color, the shock value of seeing bright red blood gush from slashed throats, a very common method of murder in this collection, gets lost in this spectrum. That is not to say there are not some whoa moments amongst the four tails. One in particular stands out to this reviewer. We hope you will find your own in the mix.
Not unlike the Cryptkeeper, Saturnino García is the sinister gravedigger Sr. Fettes, who insists that his visitors call him Vampus. The wrap around story with Vampus is cheeky, his humor is shades darker than that, say, of the Cryptkeeper’s. But that gets you heading in the right direction when you think of what Vampus is in this realm of horror. If we had a concern it would be that the dark humor in the wrap around doesn’t quite jive with the air of melancholy about these tales. The sincerity of their stories and each director’s approach to the subject matter elevates all of them above the camp of Vampus’ musings about eating meat and reading necrophilia erotica.
Concerns aside, Vampus set out to be a contemporary offering to a classic format and style, honoring the spirits of classic horror cinema. There is an equal measure of laughs and chills. There are also points of sadness and shock that few anthologies have ever strived to attain. The uniformity of pupose and a set goal make for a consistant and balanced experience. Fans of classic cinema, specifically of classic anthology horror films will not be disappointed.