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News Article

A Tribute to Our Favorite Horror Anthology Segments


The great thing about anthology horror is that a single film can contain both good and bad efforts. The appealing thing about it is that it panders to horror fans with a short attention span that don’t always want to sit through a single story line for 90 minutes. The other advantage to anthology horror films is that if you don’t like a particular segment, you know it will be over in a matter of minutes. With The ABCs of Death making its debut via VOD and a theatrical release planned for March 8th, we’ve opted to take a stroll down memory lane and bring you our picks for some of the most memorable segments in anthology horror cinema. 



The Diary of Anne Frankenstein (Chillerama)
This drive in movie throwback film is a great example of an anthology horror film that has both good and bad wrapped up in the same package. On the good end of the spectrum, "The Diary of Anne Frankenstein" was absolutely hilarious. It’s 100% historically inaccurate and totally fun. Eva Braun is portrayed to be a complete tramp and Hitler as a fuddy-duddy who can’t screw in a light bulb without getting confused. This segment is the easy choice for the best segment in Chillerama.
10/31/98 (V/H/S)
V/H/S was a big part of the recent resurgence of interest in the anthology horror film.  This flick intertwines the use of ‘found footage’ and a series of vignettes. It has already spawned a sequel and was followed by the recently released ABCs of Death. If you can look past the absolutely nauseating camerawork, V/H/S is a mostly great collection of shorts. The "10/31/98" segment is completely bonkers. The trio known as Radio Silence helmed the segment. This vignette delivers the scares. It’s atmospheric, spooky, and a favorite amongst the film’s fan base. "10/31/98" is highly original and completely unexpected. 
The Cat From Hell (Tales from The Darkside)
The television show turned feature film serves up three tales of terror as told to a witch, by a young boy who is trying to keep her occupied so as to avoid becoming dinner. Deborah Harry plays the witch. Harry also appeared on the Tales from the Darkside television series in the episode "The Moth." The standout segment in this collection is "The Cat from Hell." The cat and mouse tale (no pun intended) of a contract killer hired to take out a seemingly homicidal cat is ridiculous, but so fun. Tales from the Darkside featured a terrific ensemble cast. In addition to Deborah Harry, we see appearances from Christian Slater, Steve Buscemi, and Julianne Moore.
The Black Cat (Two Evil Eyes
Argento’s segment in Two Evil Eyes, "The Black Cat" is the superior of the two shorts. Harvey Keitel is brilliantly smug. The segment is suspenseful and has a great surprise ending. It rises above the George Romero segment "The Facts in the Case of Mr. Valdemar." "The Black Cat" marks one of Dario Argento’s last great works, before going on to direct a string of less memorable films. For more on the famed director, check out our Crash Course.   
Amelia (Trilogy of Terror
Along with Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark, Trilogy of Terror is perhaps one of the most beloved made-for TV horror films. The stand out piece in this anthology film is the "Amelia" segment. Mommy issues and killer dolls take center stage in this vignette. This short is by far the most frightening of the trifecta. It’s the only segment that really goes for scares. The other two are more about build up to an unexpected ending. "Amelia" is the only one of the bunch to show any bloodshed. The stop motion effects are primitive and the entire concept is ridiculous, but that’s part of its charm. The farcical nature of this short is precisely what has landed it a place on our list. The homicidal doll makes absurdly comical noises when it comes to life and begins trying to kill Amelia. 
Quitters, Inc. (Cat’s Eye
One of several anthology pieces that Stephen King was involved with, Cat’s Eye is an enjoyable collection of shorts with the wrap around being that they all involve a cat named General. As all of the segments in Trilogy of Terror feature Karen Black, all of the shorts in Cat’s Eye feature at least a cameo appearance from a young Drew Barrymore. The "Quitters, Inc." segment in Cat’s Eye is the clear winner. James Woods delivers an inspired performance as a man trying to quit smoking by any means necessary. "Quitters, Inc." is darkly humorous, as it chronicles Dick Morison’s (James Woods) journey to quit smoking with the assistance of a mafia-like organization. I find myself laughing out loud every time I watch Dr. Donatti karate chop Dick’s cigarettes. References to King’s other works abound; Dead Zone is playing on the television that Dick is watching and a car similar to the one used in Christine drives by in once scene. 
It’s a Good Life (Twilight Zone: The Movie
A shroud of tragedy surrounded the production of this film, when actor Vic Morrow and two child actors were killed, filming the "Time Out" segment. Twilight Zone: The Movie featured a talented creative team with Joe Dante, John Landis, Steven Spielberg, and George Miller each directing one of the vignettes. Twilight Zone: The Movie provides instantaneous nostalgia for the television show on which it was based, as the film spins its tales inspired by episodes of the classic series.  The Joe Dante helmed segment is the most memorable of the bunch. It features a young boy who possesses the ability to make whatever he wants happen by wishing for it. "It’s a Good Life" is an interesting and memorable segment and ever so slightly reminiscent of the original Stepford Wives. The effects are dated, but fun. Particularly enjoyable is the scene where Anthony wishes Ethel in to ‘Cartoon Land’. 
The Raft (Creepshow II
"The Raft" starts out a lot like many of our favorite ‘80s slasher films. We see a car full of college-aged idiots driving down the highway, smoking drugs, and acting stupid. Shortly after arriving at their destination, a raft in the middle of a lake, they fall victim to a malevolent blob in the water. Creepshow II downsizes from five segments in Creepshow to just three in this follow up effort. "The Raft" doesn’t waste time on character development or trying to make the audience like the cast, it just puts them straight in to peril and lets us enjoy the result. Tom Savini did a phenomenal job on the effects and also made a cameo appearance in the film. 
Pumpkin Carving Segment (Trick r Treat
The pumpkin-carving segment with Dylan Baker as a high school principal, takes the cake. It is perfectly depraved and completely unexpected. Learning that not only is Baker’s character, Mr. Wilkins, a cold-blooded child killer, but that his son is following in his father’s footsteps was so unexpected. Trick ‘r Treat takes a unique approach to anthology horror, in that it bounces around, rather than telling its story in a completely linear fashion with segments that don’t overlap. The entire film works well and Trick ‘r Treat has become a major fan favorite in the years since its release. You can see more on Trick ‘r Treat in our picks for horror films that should have had sequels
Father’s Day (Creepshow)
“Where’s my cake, Bedelia? Where’s my Father’s Day cake? I want my cake, you dirty bitch.” The dialogue in the "Father’s Day" segment of Creepshow is nothing short of brilliant. "Father’s Day" shows that nothing, not even death, should come between a man and his cake. This segment has a wicked sense of humor. It features terrific effects by Tom Savini, some truly awesome disco-esque dancing, and also a reminder of what Ed Harris looked like with hair. This Stephen King and George A. Romero teaming served to set the bar for anthology horror films to come after its release. 
Honorable mention to the Tales From The Crypt segment "And All Through the House."
Did we miss any of your favorite segments or nail them all? Let us know in the comments below.