Volume 25, Number 3, Spring 2007

Three tales of terror

Others: The Tales of F. Paul Wilson

Reviewed by Anders Monsen

Three young film makers bring their talents together on Others: The Tales of F. Paul Wilson. Adapting three very different short stories from Wilson, they turn these into brief, well-executed visions of horror and suspense. Two of the stories, “Traps” and “Lippidleggin’” were collected in Wilson’s book, Soft and Others, and may be the most familiar to his readers. The third, “Foet,” is both the ickyest and more obscure of the group, dealing with an unorthodox use of fetal remains.

Marc Buhmann’s “Traps” weighs in at 18 minutes, the longest entry. The original work is a short, traditional “behind-the-wall” horror tale. Buhmann retains all the elements of the source in a convincing escalation of fear and trepidation of a protagonist who thinks he is dealing with something as simple as rats in the attic. The director, who recently completed a full-length zombie film, Dead in the Water, incorporates an original backstory with a strange pair of neighbors. This stretches out the story, but seems a little distracting from the original focus of the story. Still, the climactic scene is handled with terrific intensity. There’s a minimum of gore, but Buhmann shows true craft in pacing and editing.

For many years I had pronounced the name of the second tale as “Foe-ette.” The second adaptation, directed by Ian Fischer as a student film at the NYU Film School, corrects the pronunciation to “Feet.” The story deals with a woman who believes that the right fashion will make her successful and recapture her lost youth. A strong pro-lifer, she tests her personal views when she is captivated by special purses made from fetal skin. The acting and cinematography seems at times exaggerated and deliberately campy. This effect renders the protagonist’s basic premise absurd, but obsession makes many normal people victims of strange acts. Alert viewers may spot a brief cameo by Wilson himself at a restaurant, midway through the 12-minute run of the movie.

The third and final tale clocks in at a mere nine minutes, yet emerged as my sentimental favorite of the three. Set in a future where such harmful foods as butter pose health hazards and are outlawed, this is a classic libertarian tale with a neat twist. British director David Moore flips the setting, placing the story in the UK. Sadly, both America and the UK are heading in the same direction these days, and neither one is likely to play sanctuary for the other when all is said and done. The props for the story are simple, and could be set anywhere on the planet with a minimum of cost: a general store, some butter and warm bread, and a gun. The acting and premise does the rest. “Lippidleggin’” seems the most relaxed tale of the three, and it’s overt cheekiness is a delight to watch.

Along with each of the three movies, all remastered for this disc, the DVD includes bonus scenes, director’s commentary, and other goodies, all for around $14. Only a handful of Wilson’s stories have made the transition to film, including The Keep, Midnight Mass, “Pelts,” and “Menage a Trois,” with options in effect for several other works. Those productions may have higher production values and greater visibility. Wilson granted right to the film makers for the three tales on this DVD movie essentially for free, as ways for the directors to create calling cards for future movie deals. Converted to film, Wilson’s stories gain new dimensions through the talents of these young directors. Fans of Wilson will certainly enjoy these stories, but any fan of the cinematic process also will gain insight into the fact that talent and drive—and great stories—go far beyond big pockets in creating cinematic art. http://www.customflix.com/215789.

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