BET // 2008 // 93 Minutes // Unrated
Reviewed by Judge Gordon Sullivan // February 4th, 2009
The Fright Fest You've All Been Dying For!
If we're honest with ourselves, most anthology films and shows are memorable more for their hosts than their stories. The Crypt Keeper's horrible puns stick out in my mind more than any of the Tales from the Crypt, and even the often-great episodes of The Twilight Zone are overshadowed by the creepy comforting voice of Rod Serling. So when BET decided to get into the horror-anthology game, they made the brilliant decision to involve the always memorable Flava Flav. Sadly, that's where the brilliant ideas ended, because the cliché -ridden horror stories of Nite Tales have entirely too little Flava.
Night Tales opens with some shots of a Masterpiece Theater-style reading room where we are introduced to Flava Flav, our host. He explains how new and wonderful it is that we, the viewers, get two action-packed films in one. Really, who's gonna argue and tell Flava Flav that there have been other horror anthologies? This part of the film is really short, and aside from Flava exhorting the audience to get some popcorn there's very little setup or explanation. The film then segues into the first story, "Karma."
"Karma" follows four African-American gentleman as they rob a town in what appears to be Hicksville, Pennsylvania (even if it is California). It should be an easy score, but the guard has a hideout piece and wounds one of the robbers. The foursome escape with the money, but their car breaks down later that night. With their car broken, the group decides to go to a nearby house to steal the owner's car. When they get there, they're invited in by the inbred-looking residents of the house. Things begin to get weird, and the robbers realize they're going to have a difficult time leaving this lonely house.
Wow, was this story lame. Some caricature-level black criminals get "gangsta" and rob a bank, but then everything goes wrong, including a mysterious car ailment. It's so tired I hardly even know what to write about it. There was some possibility at the beginning as the foursome try to escape, but as soon as they arrived at the lonely farmhouse any possibility of originality went out the window. The rest of the story's 20 minutes involves watching a bunch of criminals we don't care about being terrorized by a bunch of inbred rednecks we don't care about. The acting isn't anything to write home about and, combined with the lame characters, makes this difficult to sit through.
Sadly, Flava Flav doesn't offer any color commentary between the story segments.
The next story is called "Storm," and it's about a group of young people trapped in their house during a terrible storm. They decide to invoke the legend of "Blood Mary," and when nothing happens they allow a clown (Tony Todd, Candyman) to come in and use their phone. Things begin to get weird, and the people in the house start to die.
"Storm" is as equally lame as "Karma." However, a few minor aspects make it worth sitting through. First, Tony Todd is his usual mesmerizing self. Tony Todd in clown makeup is easily one of the creepiest things I've ever seen. It helps that he seems to be taking his role seriously, making for the best acting in the entire film. There's also a tiny moment in this story that shows how the two parts of this anthology fit together. It's not earth-shattering, but it's a tense little moment that I enjoyed. Finally, my favorite part of "Storm" was watching a character with a lip-ring. When we first seem him, it's on the left side of his mouth. From then on, all bets are off. About half the time it's not even there, and then when it is it changes sides constantly. Combine that with his disappearing and reappearing five o'clock shadow and you've got comedy gold. Yes, the "plot" of this film is bad enough that I found watching for continuity errors more fun than paying attention to the characters and their plight.
After "Storm," Flava comes back for a little bit of commentary, but it makes even less sense than the usual Flava pronouncements (and that's saying something). He admits there might be future installments, but don't believe the hype.
Nite Tales screams cheap. The video is widescreen, but not anamorphic. The whole show looks like it was produced for no money, and compression seems to have done the film no favors. The audio was mixed very low, so I had to turn the volume knob way up to hear anything. The lone extra is an 18-minute making-of featurette that includes interviews with director Deon Taylor and behind-the-scenes footage. I can appreciate what Taylor was trying to achieve, but even he can't explain why Nite Tales is so bad. Inexplicably, this extra isn't listed under its title, but is accessed by clicking on the "Coming Soon from the Nite Tales Brand" logo.
Even diehard Flava fans will want to steer clear of this horrible horror anthology. Low budgets, questionable acting, and lame stories can't be saved, even by Flava's antics. The DVD doesn't offer fans much either technically or in supplements.
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Scales of Justice
* 1.85:1 Non-Anamorphic
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (English)
Running Time: 93 Minutes
Release Year: 2008
MPAA Rating: Unrated