Monday, January 18, 2016

Gallery of Fear – review

Director: Anthony G. Sumner (segment)

Release date: 2012

Contains spoilers

I like anthology and portmanteau movies (in fact I like shorts too) and I noticed Gallery of Fear on TubiTV and so settled down to watch it, without realising that one of the segments was going to be vampire related.

The film is a portmanteau film and the wraparound, “Critic's Choice”, stars the inimitable Debbie Rochon as an art critic (and bitch) chauffeured to a private viewing at a unique gallery. The segments are then the exhibits, that she is drawn into as observer. The third segment, “A Far Cry From Home”, is a murderous red-necks/slasher/torture porn affair. The second segment, “Down the Drain”, was a creature feature that was overlong with poor sfx and, for me, rather annoying.

Zoe Daelman Chlanda as Cath
The segment we are interested in is entitled “By Her Hand, She Draws You Down” and was based on the short story by Douglas Smith of the same name. It concerns a form of energy vampirism and I’m afraid I will have to spoil the full segment to examine that. To begin with, however, we hear tales of mysterious deaths in various locales and then we see husband and wife, Cath (Zoe Daelman Chlanda) and Joe (Jerry Murdock), as they head for their car. She suggests that *it* will want to move soon but when he asks where she doesn’t know.

a family sketch
Cath is sat on an esplanade, set up as a street artist. A man passes by with his pregnant wife and daughter and asks her if she does group sketches. She affirms this and he asks for a sketch of his girls, which she begins. Joe is sat elsewhere and carves an ankh into the bench he sits on. He notices what Cath is doing and hurries over to her. She has sketched mother and daughter and still has to do the mouths. He whispers to her that she had promised (not to do this to children or people who had others relying on them, we later hear) but she replies that she is hungry (importantly she does vary in the dialogue between *it* is hungry and she is hungry). She gives in though and refuses to finish the sketch, saying it just wasn’t right. When the customer complains and suggests that she only has the mouths to finish she states that the mouths are the most important bit.

Jerry Murdock as Joe
They set up elsewhere and Cath explains that the others she has have all been used up, as she was very hungry. A weird looking man named Harry (Terry Shane) approaches – the inference is that the way he is dressed leads Cath and Joe to believe him to be a derelict – he offers $20 for a sketch and Cath agrees. She draws him, doing his lips last. As he walks away Joe tells her to hurry. There is carbon paper below the sketch and a copy has been made. She opens an ankh embossed box and gets a large red crayon (it appears) out and works on the lips. She tells Joe it has to be perfect when he tries, again, to hurry her.

drawing life through art
She starts to draw air in from the picture and an energy in the form of smoke seems to rise from the lips and she sucks this in through mouth and nostrils. On the beach Harry has met his wife (Marianne Smith) but suddenly stops, his face turning grey (almost like the drawing). By the time Cath has finished, Harry is dead, his wife screaming for help. Cath and Joe leave and head to the next town but Cath is still hungry. Joe tells her that it will be dark when they arrive and she won’t be able to draw anyone.

dream Cath
Normally I’d finish the blow by blow here and let you watch the conclusion yourself but what happens next is so very interesting lore wise that complete spoilers are ahoy. Lying in bed Cath mentions that she could draw a perfect rendition of Joe’s face without him being there as she knows him so well. He dreams and, in that dream, beyond the beach and the sea we see pyramids (consistent with the ankh theme and indicative of the source of this curse). He approaches Cath and her face has become twisted, with sharp teeth and almost drawn.

sucking life
On awakening, she is not in bed. He finds her sketching in the dark and she says she needs no light for this sketch and that she is tired of being always hungry. As she starts to suck, and thinking he is the subject, he stabs her but then ends up drawing energy from her (as *it* enters him). The sketch pad shows the picture was of herself (an interesting idea of vampiric suicide by the host depleting the energy of themselves) and we see something move below the skin of Joe’s stomach. What is *it*? We don’t know; a parasite certainly. An energy thing it would seem – given the transfer – but with a physical aspect and an ability to communicate to the host and pass its hunger to them.

a victim dies
This was a shining segment of the portmanteau film. I loved the concept and it reminded me, in part, of Jan Naruda’s the Vampire (1884) in which those that the artist draws die. In that we do not know if he senses death and catalogues it or whether he causes death. In this we know they cause it and whilst we don’t know what the special composition of the ‘crayon’ is, we don’t need to know, we only need to know that it is the conduit for feeding. 6 out of 10 for the vampire segment only.

The imdb page is here.

Available at TuniTV as listed above or at Amazon via ConTV


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