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Case Number 09531

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Macabre Pair Of Shorts

Troma // 1996 // 80 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Judge David Johnson // June 22nd, 2006

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All Rise...

Judge David Johnson is just grateful this wasn't a documentary about Michael Herz's underwear.

The Charge

A comedy of terrors!

Opening Statement

Another Troma helping, but this time with David Boreanaz, star of TV's Angel and Bones! All 14 seconds of him!

Facts of the Case

Macabre Pair of Shorts is a collection of horror-themed vignettes. The gimmick is this: a pair of slacker employees of Panavision stumbles across an obscure movie titled Macabre Pair of Shorts. Got it? Basically, the film chronicles a vampire couple watching TV, and then we, as the audience, watch what they're watching. It's like meta-meta-filmmaking.

What ensues is an anthology of Halloween-themed spooky stories as well as some parodies of popular films. Starting things off is a tale of two lipstick lesbian vampires on the prowl, who capture a hapless dude but are disappointed that he's got a rare blood disease, making him very unsavory. Then you get a modern riff on The Legend of Sleepy Hollow, where horses are swapped for bicycles and dirt bikes, followed by a surreal Twilight Zone-meets-Dr. Seuss spot, all of it capped off by a Die Hard spoof.

The most amazing thing? This is Troma and there's not a bare breast in sight!

The Evidence

First things first: the much ballyhooed appearance by David Boreanaz needs to be downplayed. Troma is quick to trumpet the former Angel-star's "role" in the movie, and on the commentary track, director Scott Mabbutt even mentions that most people buying this film are doing it because of Boreanaz's inclusion. Truth is, the guy has a few lines of dialogue and an extended scene where a vampire—ironically enough—is gnawing at his arm. Yeah it's a minimal hoot to see him show up, but to validate the purchase of a movie simply on what is more or less a cameo, nope, not seeing it—unless you're his stalker of course.

Now that that's out of the way, I am happy to say that Macabre Pair of Shorts is pretty decent. While not laugh-out-loud funny, I did find the flick consistently amusing throughout. The movie-within-a-movie-within-a-movie gag is a bit contrived, sure, but it gave the whole thing a light, non-pretentious feel; the tactic isn't used as a kind of artsy-fartsy deconstructive strategy, but rather an excuse to string together a lot of disparate, weird crap.

My favorite segments were the Twilight Zone homage and the Die Hard denouement. The former was well-shot in black-and-white, and featured a mime force-feeding green eggs and ham to the narrator; that right there equals quality filmmaking. The latter proved to be the funniest—and cheesiest—portion of the movie as the film itself comes alive in a mass of writhing celluloid and pursues the Panavision employees, launching us into the Die Hard parody. It's fun and dumb, but mostly fun.

Basically, the overall feel of this film is of good-natured, fairly harmless parody. Blood and guts and debauchery are held at a minimum, the production values are better-looking than most homegrown Troma fare and the acting is appropriately ham-fisted. The laughs aren't copious (especially in the lengthy female vampire first story, which pretty much plays it straight), so those of you looking for a funny-bone stimulant may be disappointed.

Sadly, sound (2.0 stereo) and video (full frame) are both underwhelming, with a muffled audio and grainy, muddy transfer, respectively. Standing out amidst the usual assortment of Troma bonuses (trailers, book spots, some film festival snippets) is Mabbutt's commentary, a funny, self-deprecating track.

Closing Statement

Macabre Pair of Shorts can stand on its own merit without resorting to a cheap marketing ploy proclaiming David Boreanaz's miniscule role.

The Verdict

Not guilty. Hey, was that Seth Green's big toe?!?

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Scales of Justice

Video: 70
Audio: 70
Extras: 80
Acting: 80
Story: 80
Judgment: 80

Perp Profile

Studio: Troma
Video Formats:
• Full Frame
Audio Formats:
• Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (English)
• None
Running Time: 80 Minutes
Release Year: 1996
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
• Comedy
• Horror

Distinguishing Marks

• Director's Commentary
• Deleted Scenes
• Llyod Kaufman Interviews
• Deleted Intro
• Trailers


• IMDb

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