Dark Stories 3 (Video 2002) Poster

(2002 Video)

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more creative & entertaining short films that are worth a look
FieCrier15 August 2004
Dark Stories 3: Tales from the Grave is another collection of interesting short films from New Zealand in a series of such collections.

"Dream-Makers" starts with an ad executive sitting on a toilet trying to think up a television ad for a toilet cleaning product. We then see a family watching the ad he thought up, in which a creature in the toilet is defeated by the product. Three people in some sort of control booth seize on the creature as good fodder for a nightmare, and the little girl who saw the ad goes to bed. (The Dream-Makers may be inside her head.) She has a particularly horrible nightmare involving the toilet creature and bedbugs. The end credit roll is quite amusing, but I'd prefer not to spoil it.

"I'm So Lonesome I Could Cry" takes place in the 1950s and has a travelling beachwares salesman driving along who hits or thinks he hits a cowboy standing in the road. Meanwhile, the salesman's wife who has left him is talking to an older mustachioed man in a cafe. The salesman gets out of the car, and the cowboy seems to have disappeared, but then he sees him apparently unharmed and he hitches a ride. The hitchhiker is named Hank Williams, and may or may not be the deceased country-western singer of that name. Meanwhile the wife hops a train and meets up with the mustachioed man again, and we glimpse some scenes of when the salesman and his wife were still together. Are the husband and wife moving apart from each other as they travel along, or back together?

"Dirty Creature" was produced by, among others, WingNut Films and Peter Jackson. It involves a young girl covered in mud who is playing at being a crocodile along with her dog in a pond in a botanical garden. She sneaks up on a wedding party and attacks, muddying everyone and causing more than a few to fall into the pond. The angry, muddy, wet bride chases her, but she and her dog escape into the woods. She continues to play, finding an isolated home, and stealing a figure from a small fountain. She's caught by an old man who locks her up in a shed. It gets quite a bit more interesting from there. Could make for interesting viewing along with Peter Jackson's own Heavenly Creatures (1994), which also deals with the fantasy lives of young girls.

"Time Is a Spider" I had difficulty following. An older couple share a key to their home; he drops the key through the cat door as he leaves, and then reaches back through to retrieve it when he comes home. They have several children, some who play tennis, and others playing alongside a pool. There is a recurring image of some sort of drainage or exhaust pipe, and also of a man running towards a camera in slow motion. The mother prepares to join the children at the pool, but gets distracted by things from her childhood: books like Babar the Elephant, Curious George, Tin-Tin, etc. She paints age lines onto her own face with watercolors. Things get stranger and stranger. I didn't understand what the story was trying to say.

"Lovelock" is black and white and starts with a solitary man on a seemingly deserted train platform in Brooklyn, New York in 1949. We hear German announcers, and the man seems to be preparing to jump in front of a train. Then we're at the Berlin Olympics in 1936, where the man is representing New Zealand is is psyching out his main opponent from the USA for a sprinting event by staying in the locker room as long as he can. There's some more jumping around in time and space, showing conversations between the man and his trainer. He talks about running a "perfect race" and has some unusual strategies. Apparently this short is based on a real New Zealand athlete, Jack Lovelock.

"A Woman's Heart" starts with blood dripping on a ripped photo of a man with a golden mask tipped back on the top of his head. A woman was jilted by him, and she is sending him a package addressed to "The Tiger." The delivery boy, wearing an Aleister Crowley T-shirt, drips soda on the address, and obliterates part of the house number. It is delivered to the wrong house and the wrong man. He opens it, and finds an apparently human heart inside. He is surprised for a moment, but sets it on a saucer and watches a movie on TV. He sleeps, and has a dream from the perspective of the woman, meeting the man from the photo. He later encounters the man. There are some bizarre elements to the story, dark humor perhaps,.

All the shorts were pretty enjoyable, but once again packaging them all as straight horror is a bit deceptive (particularly for Lovelock, which I'm not sure was meant as horror at all). However, if one watches them in mind of just seeing some creative, off-beat short films, one is more apt to enjoy them.
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