Troma // 1991 // 90 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Appellate Judge Tom Becker // August 10th, 2012
You won't believe your eyes!
Low-budget horror anthology -- '80s style.
Or early '90s style, depending on whose date you trust.
Where Evil Lives gives us the story of the terrible goings on at a large estate that's currently up for sale. A prospective buyer strikes up a conversation with the caretaker, played by the sole "name" in the cast, Claude Akins (Battle for the Planet of the Apes). Despite what you might read on the DVD case or online message boards, this was neither Akins' last role nor his greatest, but it's always good to see him.
The caretaker tells the buyer three "tales of terror" -- or, at least, three tales of moderate discomfort.
Our stories range from really dumb (the first one) to surprisingly decent (the second and third).
I have to say, the first story ("Hubert's Homecoming"), which tells of a mass murderer inexplicably released from prison after 22 years who returns to the scene of the crime, left me cold -- and not in a chilly, scary way. This was just a badly done, one-joke idea that tried too hard to be irreverent and off-beat. As a harbinger of things to come, this did not bode well, as it represented everything that made direct-to-home-video offerings of yore seem so lame.
Fortunately, things pick up considerably in stories two and three. The second story ("Midnight Date"), about vampires, is nicely atmospheric and contains a few solid scares. The third episode ("Saved by the Spell"), which deals with witchcraft and serial killing, works well and includes a good amount of gore plus some welcome gratuitous nudity.
Since this is a 20-and-change-year-old, shot-on-video production, the tech is less-than outstanding, but it's not terrible. Dark scenes are awfully grainy, but overall, it looks OK. The soundtrack doesn't seem especially well mixed, with music and background noise occasionally drowning out dialogue, but it's serviceable.
The release is from Troma, and supplements include a stills gallery, trailers for other Troma films, and Tromatic Extras, which are short, cheap videos that generally appear on Troma releases. The DVD case promises an introduction by Troma honcho Lloyd Kaufman, but damned if I could find it. It didn't start the movie and it wasn't part of the supplement package; maybe it's an Easter egg that I couldn't uncover. Or maybe, it's just not here.
While not exactly a lost treasure, Where Evil Lives is an agreeably quirky little film that's worth a look.
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Scales of Justice
* Full Frame
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (English)
Running Time: 90 Minutes
Release Year: 1991
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
* Photo Gallery
* Short Films