Tales of the Dead (2008) – By Duane L. Martin

Tales of the dead is a collection of five different horror stories that, while not connected, are generally linked with props and what not that keep appearing in some of the different stories.  There’s a huge amount of talent in this film too, including Rachel Grubb, Brooke Lemke, Heather Amos and Scarlet Salem.  So what could go wrong?

Well, unfortunately, despite the great talent, this film fell far short of even the mildest expectations you could have for it.  Three of the stories are generally pointless.  Of the other two, one has an obvious ending and is only saved by the fact that it has Rachel, Brooke and Heather in it, and the other, while well done as a silent type film, drags on for so long that it gets a bit tedious.  Rachel, Brooke and Heather are always great in pretty much everything they do, and it’s always a pleasure to see them on the screen.

Scarlet Salem, who is also a very talented actress and who I greatly respect for her work ethic and the incredible job she’s done busting her ass in film after film to create a great career for herself, only had one short scene in one of the stories and was completely under utilized.

As for the horror aspects of the film, I don’t know if we’re meant to take it seriously or not, but it’s all very cartoony.  Unrealistic costumes, unrealistic gore, etc…  

The editing, at least in some of the stories is all a bit strange, and the first one especially was a bit of a mess.  Some of the video effects used seemed like…well, video effects.  Not sure how else to explain it.  They were just sort of there, but didn’t add much to the overall feel of what was going on.  It’s kind of like painting a chair.  You can paint it, but it’s still just a chair.  The lighting is generally good and you can generally see everything that’s going on in every scene.  The sound is ok, and the dialogue is mostly clear and understandable, however, I found myself wishing through most of it that it had been recorded better.  The original music used in the film was actually quite good and suited the film well.

I guess my biggest disappointment with this film is just the fact that there was so much great talent in it and it still ended up not being a great film.  It’s not their fault at all.  They all did a great job with what they had to work with.  The best thing that could have happened to this film was to have two or three of the scenes cut out completely and replaced with new, completely re-written scenes, and to have the other two scenes re-written so that there’s actually a feeling of terror throughout the film.  As it is now, I just can’t recommend this movie.  The only thing I can recommend are the four actresses I mentioned here, and hopefully you’ll seek out their other films and help support their work.

I do genuinely hope the makers of this film learn from the experience and apply those lessons to their next films exponentially so they get better and better.  There is some talent behind this film, but it’s still in the very raw stages and needs to be developed over time.  This will come I’m sure if they just keep at it.  For what it was though, I believe they did a decent job working with what materials they had available.  The stories just needed a lot more work.

If you’d like to find out more about this film, you can check out the Haunted Autumn website at http://www.hauntedautumn.com.