Gallery of Fear (2010) – By Duane L. Martin

Gallery of Fear is an anthology film from Alan Rowe Kelly and Anthony G. Sumner, and includes three separate horror semi-shorts wrapped into the containing story of a fourth.

The containing story involves a bitchy art critic played by Debbie Rochon who is invited to a private gallery showing. When she shows up, first she’s taken to the wrong place by a silent driver, who drops her off and then disappears. Fortunately, she finds the right place shortly thereafter, which is a large house next to where she was dropped off. Heading over, she enters and finds some wine waiting for her, and a note telling her that the show is in the adjoining room. As she drinks the (drugged?) wine, she enters the room and finds four covered easels waiting for her. Each has a small item, and a note with a small poetic sounding saying about the story contained on the canvas. When she uncovers each canvas, she’s shown the story contained within each. The stories are as follows…

By Her Hand, She Draws You Down – This story is about a woman who makes sketches of people in touristy spots like beaches, only these are no ordinary sketches. She’s possessed by…something that causes her to have a great hunger. The tool to fulfil that hunger is an ancient artifact, an old red coloring crayon, or something of that nature contained in an old box with an ankh on top. She sketches people for money, but always draws the mouths in last. There’s an obsession about the mouths, and we soon find out why. Under her sketches is another identical sketch created by the carbon paper in between. The customers are given the originals, and after they leave, she pulls out the artifact and colors in the lips on the copy sketch. This causes some life force or something to emanate from them, which she inhales and consumes. It’s this life force that the entity possessing her needs to consume to survive, otherwise, she’s left feeling nothing but a terrible, all consuming hunger. Unfortunately, in consuming her victims’ life force, they rot away and die. Her husband loves her and is helping her move from town to town, finding people who preferably have no family and or children, but when she gets desperate, she doesn’t care who she sketches. She wants to stop, and her husband wants it all to end, but how?

Down the Drain – A very weak willed and simpering man named Mr. Moffett works as a substitute teacher at a local high school and talks much like Bill Murray’s character in Caddyshack. He’s terrorized by his students, dominated by his ex-wife, treated with less than no respect by the principal, and basically goes through life being a constant victim. That all changes however, when a creature that lives in the pipes takes pity on him and helps him to eliminate the people who have bullied and tormented him.

A Far Cry from Home – This is the story of an age separated gay couple out on a vacation, trying to get past both the problems of their age difference and the problems it causes in their relationship. While out driving around in the Pennsylvania wilderness, they happen upon a backwoods hex shop run by a crazed sect of homophobic killers (Katherine O’Sullivan, Jerry Murdock & Benzy) led by "The Preacher Man" (Terry West). The vacation comes to an abrupt end when the younger of the couple, Kayle (Don Money), disappears into the store and doesn’t return. After Lane (Alan Rowe Kelly) goes in looking for his lover, their car suddenly takes off, leaving Lane thinking that Kayle has abandoned him out in the middle of nowhere. He soon discovers however that something far more ominous has happened, and now as things become more and more frightening, Kayle just wants to get the hell out of there. Unfortunately, he escapes right into the grasp of The Preacher Man, and soon finds himself in a desperate and nightmarish quest for survival. (Description copied from my previous review of the standalone film which you can check out here.)

This last film is followed by the conclusion of the art critic’s story, which I won’t reveal here.

The stories contained in this anthology are simply just first rate. I’ve been a huge fan of Alan Rowe Kelly’s work for a few years now, even since I had the pleasure of reviewing his film, The Blood Shed. I know that whenever I receive anything from him that he’s been involved with, it’s going to be simply excellent, and this time was no exception. Props to Anthony G. Sumner as well, who was the co-creator of this genuinely first rate anthology.

What I really love about this anthology is that it starts out with a pretty serious story, followed by one that’s more goofy and fun, and then gives you a serious knockout punch with A Far Cry from Home, which is just…man, it’s harsh, and just seriously brutal and awesome.

To bring truly great stories to life though, you need not only a superb cast, but you need a quality production crew that really knows how to put together a professional, high quality production. This anthology had both…in spades. The attention to detail and set design in A Far Cry from Home especially is just something special to behold. There’s really not a single thing to complain about with this anthology, unless you REALLY want to get nit picky about stupid little things.

The whole look of this anthology is highly professional, but I’d like to make a few special notes about a few things I particularly liked.

First, I’d like to mention the visual effects in the first story, By Her Hand, She Draws You Down. The way the vapors would come out of the mouth of the sketches and the way the person affected would simply decay as their life force left them really went beyond what one would expect to see in an independent film. Also, the sketches themselves were really high quality and detailed. The talent on display there was simply amazing.

Next, I’d like to mention the monster in Down the Drain. It was fun, and rather goofy looking, like an old b-movie monster from the 50’s. You never really got a great, full on look at it in its entirety, but the various parts you did see really take you back to those fun old films with the goofy looking creatures terrorizing people.

Lastly, I’d like to mention the gore effects in A Far Cry from Home. In this one, you get to see a guy ripped in half, and someone else (I won’t spoil who it is here) taking an arrow through the throat. There’s also a scene where a guy gets his face bashed in with a pickaxe.

It really inspires me to see the professionalism on display here. I watched this and all I could think was, "This is what independent film can and should be! Solid and creative stories, professional looking productions and an eye for detail." These things are all achievable nowadays on a limited budget as long as you have the talent, creativity and desire to bring your visions to life. We really live in a great time right now, where these things are not only possible, but affordable for your average independent film maker to pull off as long as they have the drive and the stamina to put the work into creating a quality production. Really, when things like this are possible, Hollywood should start worrying, because it will only become easier and better as the years go by. Look at how far things have progressed in just the last ten years with camera quality and affordibility, computer software and hardware, production and sound equipment, etc…. Now think what it’ll be like in another ten.

Gallery of Fear is really a must see anthology. It’s over two hours long, but it’s worth every second of its run time. This, my friends, is how to do it right, and I’d like to congratulate Alan Rowe Kelly, Anthony G. Sumner and their entire cast and crew on creating something truly special.

So, how can you see Gallery of Fear? I honestly have no idea. I saw the film online in a private screener. I’m unsure of where or when it’ll be available, but I really hope it’ll be available soon. If you’d like to keep up with the latest news about the anthology though, you can check out its Facebook page here.