Scare Package Movie Review

Written by Stuart D. Monroe

Premiered on Shudder

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Directed by Emily Hagans (“Cold Open”), Chris McInroy (“One Time in the Woods”), Noah Segan (“M.I.S.T.E.R.”), Courtney and Hillary Andujar (“Girls Night Out of Body”), Baron Vaughn (“So Much to Do”), Anthony Cousins (“The Night He Came Back Again Part IV: The Final Kill”), and Aaron B. Koontz (“Rad Chad’s Horror Emporium” and “Horror Hypothesis”)
Written by Emily Hagans (“Cold Open”), Chris McInroy (“One Time in the Woods”), Frank Garcia-Hejl (M.I.S.T.E.R.), Courtney and Hillary Andujar (“Girls Night Out of Body”), Baron Vaughn (“So Much to Do”), Anthony Cousins and John Karsko (“The Night He Came Back Again Part IV: The Final Kill”), Aaron B. Koontz and Cameron Burns (“Rad Chad’s Horror Emporium” and “Horror Hypothesis”)
2019, 103 minutes, Not Rated
Premiered on Shudder on June 18th, 2020

Jeremy King as “Rad” Chad Buckley
Chase Williamson as Pete
Joe Bob Briggs as Himself
Dustin Rhodes as The Devil’s Lake Impaler
Hawn Tran as Hawn
Jocelyn DeBoer as Wife
Noah Segan as Husband
Byron Brown as Sam

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What do all the good anthologies have in common? From the holy grail of anthologies, Creepshow, all the way down to the hokiest of the hokey, The Monster Club, and then even further down to the bottom of the barrel for the borderline unwatchable like Snoop Dogg’s Hood of Horror? The common thread is a sense of humor. Some of them keep it pretty straight with just a little bit of that vicious sense of black humor, like V/H/S and V/H/S/2, while others go for openly comedic – John Carpenter’s “The Coroner” character in Body Bags is a great example. Virtually all anthologies give you a reason to chuckle, though, and it’s a necessary part of the formula.

Oversized anthology Scare Package is the first to go so far into the realm of comedy that you’d be tempted to say it isn’t horror…except for the next-level gore and gags balanced with every horror trope imaginable (and at least a couple that took me by surprise).

Scare Package bucks a trend right out of the gate in that it has a pair of wraparounds and uses them to occasionally side-splitting effectiveness. It features a couple of solid cameos to add some sizzle for both horror fans and wrestling fans alike, bringing in genre icon Joe Bob Briggs (TNT’s “Monstervision”) and professional wrestling legend Dustin “Goldust” Rhodes (in a surprisingly bloodthirsty role). Scare Package also makes some history by being the first horror film to debut on The Last Drive-In with Joe Bob Briggs. Yes, Joe Bob is in it…but that’s still a pretty damn big deal for an anthology loaded with first time director who are mainly writers, producers, and even actors.

Still, I wanted to experience it without the admitted distraction of Joe Bob’s amazing commentary breaks and the ever-hypnotic Darcy The Mail Girl. So, I took a hard pass on the true premiere and screened it at home. I’m glad I did it that way, because this uneven but obscenely ambitious anthology is one of my favorites of the last few years.

Scare Package introduces its segments in a number of interesting ways through the wraparound in “Rad Chad’s Horror Emporium” – videos playing on the store’s TV, VHS cover art, found videocassettes screaming “Watch Me!” in ragged letters, and even an oral tale from “Rad Chad’s” resident: obsessed loser customer, Sam, in a cringeworthily brilliant performance from Byron Brown (The Mangina Exit).

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  • “Cold Open” tells the story of Mike Myers (Jon Michael Simpson; V/H/S), a guy who’s always a bit player tooling away on his proverbial second fiddle. Well, in Mike’s case it’s more like eighth fiddle. He’s a nobody who wants to be a somebody. Knowing more than that spoils the fun of this wraparound with a twist.
  • “One Time in the Woods” is the tale of a camping trip that goes horribly wrong when a monstrous shape-shifting man shows up to crash the party…and that’s before the masked psycho crashes the already crashed party! The transformation(s) are straight out of Street Trash, and the jokes that come from that puddle of goo will make this segment one you’ll present to your friends with pride. It may be my favorite of the bunch just for the silliness and gloopy SFX.
  • “M.I.S.T.E.R.” starts off looking like a cautionary tale about male empowerment but ends up being one of the more cleverly set up werewolf outings I’ve seen in recent years. It also continues the trope about the power of silver that was started in the previous segment. This segment starts off a little soft but finishes strong.
  • “Girls Night Out of Body” is the most standard fare of the bunch, but it’s also one of the best looking in its haziness; a slumber-party fever dream that bursts with color and joyous violence. It reminds you why you simply don’t fuck with the fabled girl’s night out.
  • “So Much to Do” is the weakest of the bunch. It’s funny in an empathetic way and has echoes of the classic segment from Creepshow, “The Hitchhiker”, but it’s not as zany, funny, or splattery as the rest of the entries and feels a bit off as a result.
  • “The Night He Came Back Again Part IV: The Final Kill” is the slasher parody that so many early 2000’s spoof films were trying to get right. In it, the final girl and her friends fall victim to every possible trope. To make matters worse, they legitimately cannot kill the slasher no matter what they do. It reminded me of that great joke between Sean and his Dad in Monster Squad about the killer being chopped up in a blender and sent to space, only to come back for another sequel. The painful truth of slasher films is brutally satirized here.
  • “Horror Hypothesis” / “Rad Chad’s Horror Emporium”: The final segment and the wraparound(s) combine in one mildly brain-damaged and extremely ‘80s finish that’s got unbelievable set design and a ton of great jokes and lines to go with those aforementioned cameos. I dare you to not enjoy yourself here! “Rad” Chad Buckley is literally me if I owned a video store.

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It’s clear that a large portion of the budget was spent on gooey, wet practical SFX. It’s also clear that a lot of talented up and coming horror voices got together to have some good, old-fashioned, bloody, irreverent fun. There’s plenty of satire (both hidden and slapping you in the face). It’s smartly layered and smoothly written; none of the humor feels forced or awkward.

It’s got flaws, but what anthology NOT named Creepshow doesn’t? Aside from the undisputed king, there’s no such thing as an anthology that doesn’t have lesser segments and even dead spots. Scare Package is no exception, but I think we can live with that. Horror fans know what to expect from anthologies by now, and they’ll find this exceptional entry to their liking. I mean, how can you complain about lines like, “I didn’t mean to kill everyone…it just sort of happened!”, “You’re watching HBO, bitch! This ain’t TV!”, or (my personal favorite), “There is no good incest!”

That last one made me piss myself a little.

Scare Package plays like a Zucker Brothers film with a fetish for fourth wall fuckery. It’s full of sight gags, background jokes on repeat, and questionable taste that still makes you think. Essentially, it’s Airplane! as a splattery horror anthology with some genuine satirical proclamations about the genre thrown in for good measure.

When you can do all that, you really don’t have to be as good as Creepshow.

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Movie: 4.5 Star Rating Cover

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Stuart D. Monroe
Staff Reviewer
Stuart D. Monroe is a man of many faces – father, husband, movie reviewer, published author of short horror, unsuccessful screenwriter (for now), rabid Clemson Tiger, Southern gentleman, and one hell of a model American who goes by the handle "Big Daddy Stu" or "Sir". He's also highly disturbed and wears that fact like a badge of honor. He is a lover of all things horror with a particular taste for the fare of the Italians and the British. He sometimes gets aroused watching the hardcore stuff, but doesn't bother worrying about whether he was a serial killer in a past life as worrying is for the weak. He was raised in the video stores of the '80s and '90s. The movie theater is his cathedral. He worships H.P. Lovecraft, Stephen King, and Clive Barker. When he writes, he listens obsessively to either classical music or the works of Goblin to stimulate the neural pathways. His favorite movie is Dawn of the Dead. His favorite book is IT. His favorite TV show is LOST.
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